History of Pilmuir Works

During the 19th century, Dunfermline became a world leader in the manufacture of table linen.  Although damask weaving had been introduced to the town early the previous century, it took some time to develop.  The scale of this could not have been achieved without the introduction of steam power and Pilmuir Works is credited as being the the first of Dunfermline’s power loom linen mills.  Opened in 1849, it included earlier buildings, dating back to 1816.  It later expanded and acquired a grand Italianate frontage facing onto Pilmuir Street.

img_3866
Pilmuir Street elevation, as seen 17 Sep 2016

Because of its significance, it was given Category A listed status in 1993, accompanied by this Statement of Special Interest from 1999.

An extensive intact weaving factory largely dating from the late 19th century. It has an impressive Italianate street frontage (and some fine interior detailing) to its office/warehouse block on Pilmuir Street. It is thought that Mr Scott started the first steam power weaving factory in Dunfermline on this site in 1847, purchasing (and extending) an existing building of 1816. The business failed and was restarted 2 years later by Andrew and Henry Reid. Henry Reid left in 1860 to set up Abbey Gardens Works, by which time there were 200 looms at Pilmuir Works, making it second in size only to St Leonard’s Works in Bothwell Street. By 1913 it had 700 looms. It was purchased by the firm of Hay and Robertson in 1926 to compensate for a fire at its Caldeonia Works factory. It was acquired by Dunlops in 1947 to weave tyre fabric and is currently (1999) the only working weaving shed in Dunfermline and the oldest in Scotland. The kiln in the handloom factory is the only example yet recorded, as it was superseded by heated drying rollers on sizing machines. Other more primitive factories in Fife and Angus used louvres to dry warps.

To more recent generations, this was the Dunlop factory, whch closed its doors in 2005/6 when Dunlop withdrew from Dunfermline.  Since then, despite several proposals, it has been left to deteriorate, suffering fire damage in 2009, not long after an initiative by the National Theatre of Scotland gave a glimpse of one potential future use. (video)

More recently, plans for Fife College to part relocate to this site fell through and then the current owner called in the receivers, putting the future of this site further in jeopardy.

See also our links to online sources about Pilmuir Works.