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December 3, 2014

Why ruins are worth saving

In the world of building preservation there lies an inherent tension. On the one hand there are those who simply cannot bear the prospect of a building being lost to neglect or dereliction. On the other hand, there is the view that a building should only be saved if a viable end-use can be found. What both camps share is an appreciation of the intrinsic value of preserving historically significant buildings. But at some point, every preservation project has to resolve this tension.  All this and more lies ahead for the folk of Carluke.



Carluke High Mill –  watch a short film about the mill here

Brief history

The High Mill stands at the top of Chapel Street, which used to be called Windmill Brae. The Mill tower was built in 1797 by Mr David Dick, on land he leased from the local laird Captain Hamilton of Kirkton and Fairholm. The mill must have been successful, as it was mentioned in an advertisement of 1817 which extolled the virtues of Carluke in the hope of attracting people to the Town. Certainly David Dick became a man of some standing in the town, as he was appointed Baron Baillie in 1815.

For some reason, however, plans to build a courthouse in the town never came to fruition. Some years later, David Dick handed over the running of the Mill to two of his sons, James a millwright engineer, and William a miller. They converted the mill to steam power and added several structures to the original tower, including the threshing mill. The family tradition of milling continued right into the 20th Century.

However the mill fell into disuse about 1930, having been converted to gas power by James Dick only fifteen years earlier. As a mechanical mill as opposed to a water driven mill it holds the interest of various organisations within the United Kingdom and beyond. The internal machinery was removed from the mill in 1999 and placed in safe storage. This machinery has been described as “the most complete [set of working parts] to be associated with any Scottish corn-grinding windmill”.


The Steering Group with the guidance and support of the Strathclyde Building and Preservation Trust has been very busy this year working on the plans to identify a potential funding strategy for the work required. We have been in negotiation with Architectural Heritage Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, Investing in Ideas and Historic Scotland. These National groups have all shown a high level of support for our project. Representatives of the High Mill Steering Group have also been in contact with representatives of South Lanarkshire Council.

The Architectural Heritage Fund has pledged a sum of money to the project, although the terms and conditions mean that it needs to be match funded elsewhere before being allocated to specific costs. The national organisations have a critical issue they require to be clarified; this is that the land owner of the site is asked to submit at minimum a letter which confirms that they agree in principal to the plans put forward and the regeneration work.

These longer term plans include the purchase of the land by Carluke Development Trust on behalf of the residents of Carluke. Key discussions have been taking place across this year between both parties and the current owners have demonstrated interest in this vision of a regenerated High Mill to happen. The negotiations however, have reached an impasse and we feel we need to consider an alternative to relying initially on funders providing the income for land purchase.

The aim is to clarify for the potential funders that a future owner of the land is fully committed to the terms and conditions of the funders, who are responsible for issuing public money. One of the issues is the time frame set out by the funders is based on years. Consequently the Steering Group has chosen to campaign to raise funds so that Carluke Development Trust can put forward a proposal to buy the land on behalf of the community.

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