"Having long been possessed with an ardent desire to see the Distilleries of Scotland...", Alfred Barnard, 1885

"O Thou, my muse! guid auld Scotch drink", from Scotch Drink, by Robert Burns

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Glasgow Part 6 – Provanmill Distillery

Like Camlachie and Yoker the location for Barnard’s next visit was then a quiet rural setting “a few miles north-east of the City of Glasgow” on the high road to Stirling, and the site is now on the very edge of the expanded city, with the busy junction between the M8 and M80 motorways nearby.

The NLS map from c1850 records it as Mile-end Distillery, further down a track from the actual Provan Mill and about a mile from the small village of Millerston. It was originally licensed in 1815 as Milltown and changed name to Provanmill in 1860 under new owners.

The Molendinar Burn at Provanmill
Provanmill was another distillery citing Loch Katrine as a water source, although the main water used was from nearby Hogganfield Loch, presumably by way of the Molendinar Burn which ran from the loch, through the distillery grounds and eventually through Glasgow to the Clyde. Of interest here is that further down this burn was the site where St Kentigern (aka St Mungo) founded his church in the 6th century, which went on to be the cornerstone for the development of Glasgow.

The burn can still be seen beside the site of the old distillery, where it has been turned into a water feature in a play park before being piped underground. From here to the Clyde it runs through pipes and Victorian brick tunnels that can be seen in this link if you like that sort of thing.

The distillery was closed from private ownership in 1922 and demolished in 1953. Littlehill Primary School was then built on the site but that too is now gone. It was closed in 2004/05 after consolidation of schools in the area and was then vandalised and burned down in an arson attack in June 2008.

The site of the distillery and Littlehill School
The site is now home to a family day centre. One member of staff recalls the distillery being here before it was demolished. I am allowed to take pictures of the area but requested to avoid the centre as there were children playing there. A further sign of change from Barnard’s time when children from as young as five would work in farms, mills or coal mines and concerns for their rights and welfare were only just starting to be given thought by the state.

The 1874 Factory Act required that no children under ten should be employed in a factory but this was not properly monitored until stricter controls were introduced in 1911. Prior to 1874 no children were expected to work more than 10 hours a day!!! The 1880 Education Act required all children aged 5 to 10 to go primary school.

The recent use of the site for education and child welfare reflects changes in society that were just taking root when Barnard visited the area. On the site of the old Provan Mill now stands the Molendinar Community Centre. Where once young children worked they can now go to play.