Ravaged by fire.
Westfield Mill was built in 1836 by a Mr John Milne on the site where once stood a lint mill occupied by a Mr Dollas, whence we get the familiar name given to this mill by the locality, “Dollas’ Mill ”, or more commonly, just “The Dolly ”.
Later the mill was extended by Mr. D. H. Saunders, son of the founder of the mill at Craigmill (higher on the river Ericht). Until then it had stood alongside the Ericht and had only one wing extending backwards from the north end. The “new mill”, a 3 storey addition, was built backwards from the river on the south end, the warehouses being on the higher ground behind the mill.
Sources: Peter Dawson, Meg Luckins
In March 1901 a fire occurred in the new portion of the mill caused by the overheating of a bearing in a spinning frame, and the entire mill was destroyed, the damage being estimated at £20,000.
Prior to this, the mill was driven by two water-wheels, one under the corner of the older part and the other in a low building attached, and by a pair of Corliss engines by Douglas and Grant of Kirkcaldy. The works were one of the finest country mills in the trade and the prices paid when they changed hands indicated this. In about 1880, Westfield and Bramblebank Works, with their respective dwelling houses and store-sheds, were bought by Messrs. Renny and Brown for £31,000, this being less than half of the original cost, the depression in the linen trade having by then set in.
However, in the 1870s Westfield Mill had been one of the largest in the district, producing about 15,000 spindles of yarn per week of jute, flax and tow suitable for the Brechin and Forfar markets.
After the fire of 1901, the mill was rebuilt and started working again in July, 1903. This new mill consisted of 3 flats ; the preparing flat on the ground level, the spinning flat on the first floor and the winding and finishing flat on the top. The building was shaped in the form of the letter L with the longer arm running parallel and close to the Ericht.
In July, 1934 it was again burned down and 100 workers were thrown idle. The decrease in the number of workers over the years gives some indication of the falling off in the importance of the manufacturing industry locally and of the lesser demands made on manpower by the improvement in machinery. In 1876 over 300 people were employed at Westfield ; by 1901 this number had dropped to about 150 and by 1934 to 100.
During 1947 – 49, the Mill was partly rebuilt and additions made by Thomas Thomson (Blairgowrie) Ltd., converting it into a power station for Bramblebank Works, the next mill downstream. A twin turbine capable of producing from 250 to 300 horse-power was installed along with a diesel engine producing 420 horse-power. The old water wheel was repaired and, with its production of 160 horse-power, Bramblebank was well supplied with motive power. All three were connected to the same driving shaft and could work together or independently. A dynamo converted their power into electricity which was carried by cable to Bramblebank.
In 1963 the Westfield Dam was swept away and, when neighbouring Bramblebank closed the same year, there was no longer a need for the power from Westfield.
The buildings have remained in the same sorry state as after the 1934 fire although now almost completely smothered by trees, ivy and brambles. However the tall, octagonal based chimney stack is still standing and in good condition.
The mill was built in the area of Westfields of Rattray and is now surrounded by fruit growing at Westfields farm.