Scotland’s hidden wonders: Mill On The Fleet

Mill on the Fleet is a popular visitor attraction in Dumfries and Galloway that still retains its original working aesthetic. Photo: VisitScotland

Mill on the Fleet is a popular visitor attraction in Dumfries and Galloway that still retains its original working aesthetic. Photo: VisitScotland

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ONE of Scotland’s lesser-known tourist attractions, Mill On The Fleet is an ex-cotton spinning mill in Dumfries and Galloway built at the turn of the 19th century

WHAT IS IT?

Most of the Mill's original fittings, such as this waterwheel, have been retained to this day. Photo: TripAdvisor

Most of the Mill's original fittings, such as this waterwheel, have been retained to this day. Photo: TripAdvisor

This utilitarian textile mile is one of few to survive since its original construction over 200 years ago. Once used to spin cotton and then to store and process oak trees for the leather tanning industry, the mill has been repurposed as a visitor centre which now features the Faed Gallery. Its exhibitions often feature the work of local artists and artisans.

Spread across multiple floors, visitors can also see what the town of Gatehouse would have looked like in the 1800s through the detailed scale model contained within the building, as well as enjoy food and drink served by the Riverside Cafe on the terrace or browse the Garvallan bookshop.

WHERE IS IT?

Mill on the Fleet is situated within the Fleet Valley near the small town of Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway. The southernly attraction can be easily reached via the B727 road and is prominently positioned on the High Street, though there is no direct railway access to the community.

The Mill's cafe even has a terrace to enjoy the outside air. Photo: Whatsonintown

The Mill's cafe even has a terrace to enjoy the outside air. Photo: Whatsonintown

WHEN WAS IT BUILT?

Built in 1788, the mill first saw use in the textile industry before falling into disrepair in the 1850s as the industry declined. In the 1980s, however, new ownership by Dumfries and Galloway Council saw the Mill on the Fleet restored and reopened as a visitor information centre in 1991. It is now one of the most popular attractions in Dumfries and Galloway.

WHO DESIGNED IT?

Though no exact word has been given on the designer of the building, we do know that the mill was built by Yorkshire man James Birtwhistle and was the second of its type to be constructed on the site. The Birtwhitles are widely credited as being responsible for introducing the cotton-spinning industry to Gatehouse.

IS IT A TOURIST ATTRACTION?

Yes – it’s featured on VisitScotland and TripAdvisor as being one of the highlights of Dumfries and Galloway. It’s a free-to-enter attraction that has provisions for disabled patrons, and is open between 29 March and 31 October 2016.

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