Document of the Month - April
In 1862 when Perthshire was surveyed for the Ordance Survey maps, Ashfield was then known as Millash and consisted of just a handful of buildings, including a small mill. The Scottish Central Railway line passed to the east. It was soon to change. In 1865, the land was sold by John Stirling of Kippendavie to the Pullars of Keirfield. A new mill and houses for the workers were constructed; built “for the printing (especially roller printing) and beetling of cotton cloth.”
The operation remained in the hands of the Pullars until after the Second World War. Then in 1946, they sold the mill and housing to the British Silk Dyeing Company (BSD). This brought change, with the printing now being done on new synthetic fabrics instead of cotton. In 1960 it was announced that the BSD was to be acquired by an American company, The United Merchants and Manufacturers Incorporated. At this time, the mill employed about 120 people. The mill continued to operate under this new ownership until its closure in 1976. By this time the textile industry had significantly diminished across the UK, unable to compete with new manufacturers in Asia. An article in the Stirling Observer in 1975 presents the opinion of one local worker:
James feels disgruntled at what has happened to the textile trade in this country. “I’ve no animosity towards the firm at all, but the trade has just gone flat. Every week there’s a new place closing in Lancashire and with Ashfield closing it will mean that the last print works in Scotland has gone.”
Stirling Council Archives holds some records (A1419) from the BSD’s operation of the mill in the 1970s. This includes pattern books with orders showing a range of fabric samples used for children’s and ladies clothing. It appears that after the Ashfield factory closed in 1976, these books were sent for use at the BSD’s larger factory in Balloch.