We embarked on an exciting new chapter in our story, having moved our headquarters to the A-listed Lower City Mills in Perth, a key building in the history of the burgh, and an important and rare survivor of Scotland’s agri-industrial past.
Lower City Mills is part of the wider City Mills complex consisting of the Upper Mills (now the Mercure Hotel), the Lower Mills and the Granary. Although most of the buildings date from the 18th and early 19th Centuries, their origin is much earlier. There were almost certainly mills on the site by the 12th century, when in 1153, David I granted ten shillings from the income of his Perth mills to the canons of Scone Abbey. In 1374 Robert II gave these ‘King’s Mills’ to the Burgh of Perth and they remain in public ownership as part of the Perth Common Good.
By the 1830s the Upper Mills contained wheat flour mills and a granary, while the Lower Mills processed corn and barley. The Upper Mills stopped producing flour in the 1890’s and continued as a granary with one pair of stones producing animal feed into the 1940’s. The Lower Mills continued to operate until 1953 when the demand for oatmeal was falling and the waterwheel and other machinery were in need of repair, however two electric motors were installed to drive a grain cleaner within the building and it continued to operate as a granary until the building finally closed in 1966.
The Lower City Mills were restored by Perth and Kinross District Council from 1982-88 with the surviving machinery renovated to working order by a team employed under the Government’s Manpower Services Commission. Following the restoration, the Mills were operated by Perthshire Tourist Board as a working mill visitor attraction with café and “Perthshire Shop”. VisitScotland occupied the building from their establishment in 2007 and while public access to the mill machinery had ceased, part of the building served as the Visitor Information Centre until 2015. In June 2019 Lower City Mills became vacant and Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust moved to the building which now serves as our headquarters.
The Project and The Vision
Such a rare heritage asset, the mills have significant potential to contribute to Perth’s wider cultural offer as a modern city with an important history. Our vision for the building is:
“to create a centre of excellence for heritage conservation, traditional building skills and Scottish mills and milling; through conservation and restoration, enabling public access that enhances understanding and appreciation of the building’s significance.”
We are developing a project to repair the historic fabric of the building and record and restore its internal machinery and secure a sustainable new future for the building as a conservation ‘heritage hub’ and centre for Scottish mills and milling, with the Trust’s offices at its core. The project will deliver traditional building skills and other heritage-related opportunities for the public, and will afford public access to the mill machinery and associated exhibition space.
We have been fundraising and hope our development year will begin in April 2022 and key to this will be the development of a Conservation Management Plan (CMP), including a Condition Survey, which will reveal the nature and full extent of any works required and the training opportunities these might provide.
A key aim of the project is to engage the people of Perth in uncovering the full history of the mills. Please contact us if you have any information, stories or photographs relating to the mills at any stage of its use – including the 1980s restoration.
Take a Virtual Tour
Whilst we work toward making the mills physically accessible to the public again, why not take a virtual tour of the building and marvel at the machinery preserved within this remarkable gem of Perth’s industrial heritage?
Take a look and see how the water from Perth lade powers the machinery!
Note: the music in this video is from bensound.com