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The Development of Industry
Langholm Railway 1864 - 1969
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Textile Manufacture in Langholm

The Development of Industry

langholm 1947

Many roads were improved and bridges built in the Langholm area during the 18th century. In 1778 the building of New Langholm on the Meikleholm on the west side of the Esk began and eventually produced around 140 new houses.

Soon afterwards the rising tide of the Industrial Revolution reached the town and textile production began to change from a cottage industry to a mill based one. Plentiful water supplies contributed greatly to this process. The Meikleholm Mill was built around 1789 to produce cotton and linen yarns, and it was followed in 1797 by the Whitshiels Mill on the Ewes near the High Mill Bridge. At first it produced woollen yarn, but later cotton yarn. Both these mills are long gone.

In the 19th century woollens became dominant, including the manufacturing of hosiery, blankets and cloth. Various new mills were built including those of Reid and Taylor and Arthur Bell, two companies still in production. Several other 19th century mills went out of business, while others were destroyed by fire, a fate which befell Reid and Taylor’s large factory in 1933. The present mill is a replacement.

The success of the woollen industry, with Langholm cloth gaining a world wide reputation for excellence, helped the town to achieve a population well over 4,000 in 1881, the “Muckle Toon” indeed. Today the textile trade is represented by the two older firms, Neil Johnstone Ltd., the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, the Langholm Dyeing Co. and Drove Weaving.

A valuable new industry arrived in 1974. This was the Border Fine Arts Company, makers of high quality figurines.

A long standing family business is the tannery of Charles Paisley and Sons, which was established around 1850.

The railway came to Langholm in 1864 as a branch of the North British Railway Waverley line. The Beeching cuts ended passenger services in 1964 and goods traffic ceased in 1967.

Hollows Mill, with a history going back at least to the 18th Century, is still in
operation using an internal waterwheel last renewed in 1994.

Coal mining in the Canonbie area seems to have started before 1629 and it continued on and off until 1922, covering the area from Holehouse to Archerbeck. Rowanburn mining village is the most obvious evidence of this industry.

Canonbie was also the location of three attempts by English businessmen to operate iron works between 1699 and 1729.

The Glentarras Distillery went out of production before the the First World War and the Langholm Distillery followed suit in  1917

The Louisa  Antimony mine near Glendinning, Westerkirk, was operated for three short periods between 1793 and 1922.

The lime quarry at Harelawhill Canonbie closed in the 1960s.

Langholm Railway 1864 - 1969 >>>

“Lang Syne in Eskdale” by David J. Beattie 1950
“The Glendinning Antimony Mine (Louisa Mine)”by Alex McCracken, Trans. of D.G.N.H.A.S. 1965
“The Railway to Langholm” by R.B. McCartney 1991
“Eastern Dumfriesshire”  R.C.A.H.M.S. 1997
“The First English Ironworks in Scotland” by A.R. MacDonald, Trans. D.G.N.H.A.S. 1999

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