Published in 1869 this extract from the book The Industries of Scotland: their rise, progress, and present condition: by David Bremner. gives a good description of the mills etc in the Dumfries area at that time.

Woollen Manufactures of Dumfries, Maxwelltown, Lochfoot etc.

DUMFRIES.—The hosiery trade of Dumfries is believed to have originated about eighty years ago, but up till about 1810 it was carried on upon a small scale. Messrs Haining, Hogg, & Dickson are believed to have introduced the business. In 1810 the late Mr Robert Scott (who may be called the founder of the woollen trade of Dumfries) entered into partnership with Mr W. Dinwiddie, and to the first-mentioned gentleman is due the credit of having concentrated the hosiery trade in the town, taking it out of the hands of the smaller makers, and opening up an extensive and profitable connection with the London and other English markets. From that time the trade took a great start, and in making hosiery Dumfries soon rivalled, if it did not surpass, Hawick.

About forty years ago the stocking-making of Dumfries gradually developed into the manufacture of woollen underclothing of all kinds. In 1832 so many as 300 persons were known to be employed in Dumfries and the neighbouring villages in that branch of business; and 400 dozen stockings, socks, drawers, and shirts were made weekly. From that time till now the trade in all its branches has been prosecuted with, on the whole, remarkable success. The leading firms in Dumfries are Messrs R. Scott & Sons; Messrs Milligan & Co.; Messrs James Dinwiddie & Company, Greenbrae; Mr William Halliday, Maxwelltown; Mr Robert Macgeorge, Maxwelltown. Mr Paterson carried on the hosiery business on a considerable scale at Lochfoot, and there are one or two independent makers in a small way in some of the neighbouring villages.

There are fully 500 frames or stocking-looms in Dumfries and the district, of which at present about 300 will be in full work, giving employment to at least 500 persons, including weavers, winders, seamers, trimmers, finishers, and warehousemen. The consumption of hosiery yarns by the whole trade of the district is estimated at 120,000 lb per annum, in addition to a large quantity of tweed yarns. The yarns are obtained chiefly from Hawick, Peebles, Alloa, and Kinross. The capital invested in the trade is about £40,000, and the annual turnover is, as nearly as possible, represented by the capital . Nearly all the work is paid for by the piece or dozen, a different scale applying to every gauge. Hence, it is difficult to estimate the average weekly earnings; but on the narrow frames they will range from 10s. to 13s.; on the broad frames, from 15s. to 18s.; and on the improved frames, from 20s. to 25s. Altogether, the wages paid in connection with the hosiery trade in Dumfries and district exceed £11,000 a-year. In addition to plain hosiery there is a considerable manufacture of what are known as fancy goods, including tweed hose, knickerbocker hose, shooting socks, &c., besides a variety of articles in which bright colours tastefully arranged are employed. Messrs Milligan & Co. are the only firm in Dumfries who employ powerlooms for the manufacture of the hosiery fabric. Steam-power is used in nearly all the mills for the finishing processes.

The tweed trade of Dumfries dates from the year 1846. Two years previously Messrs Robert Scott & Sons purchased premises at Kingholm, about a mile below Dumfries, for the purpose of spinning hosiery yarns, and afterwards turned their attention to the manufacture of tweeds, which they were soon engaged in making in considerable quantities for the London and Glasgow markets. In 1853 the trade greatly improved, and a much larger quantity of goods was manufactured. Prior to that date the senior partner of the firm (the late Mr Robert Scott already referred to) had retired from the business, which was carried on till 1856 by his sons, Messrs Robert and J. L. Scott. In that year the partnership was dissolved, and Mr J. L. Scott carried on the business at Kingholm, while Mr Robert Scott, who had entered into partnership with his brother, Mr Walter Scott, of Manchester, commenced the manufacture of tweeds in a large and handsome mill erected on ground overlooking the Dumfries Dock Park, and called the Nithsdale Mills.

In 1866 the partnership between Messrs Robert and Walter Scott terminated, the Nithsdale Mills becoming the property of the former, who let them on lease to his nephew, Mr Robert Scott, jun., and his partner, Mr Nixon, of London. In 1866 Mr Walter Scott erected an extensive factory on the Stewartry side of the Nith, which is known as the Troqueer Mill. Upwards of 300 hands are employed in it. In 1865 the Kingholm Mills were purchased by a limited liability company, under the designation of J. Lindsay Scott & Co., with a capital of £ 80,000. A new factory was recently completed for the manufacture of tweeds by Mr J. McEwen Henderson, and is known as St Michael's Mill. There are also tweed factories at Newabbey (Mr Robert Laing); at Cample, near Thornhill (Messrs Arrol & Peace); and at Sandbed, near Lockerbie. Mr Thomas Shortridge, Dumfries, does a large business in finishing for country makers.

The number of sets of carding-machines employed by the three principal firms in or near Dumfries is about thirty. The quantity of wool spun by them is about 800,000 lb per annum, and a large quantity of yarns is brought from other towns. The capital invested in the whole tweed trade of the town and district is about £260,000, which may also represent the annual turnover. About 200 power-looms and 100 hand-looms are in use. The number of persons employed in the tweed manufactures of Dumfries and neighbourhood is upwards of 1000. To the ingenuity and shrewdness of a pattern designer at Kingholm Mills — Mr John McKeachie—a great deal of the early success of the trade is due. Mr M'Keachie was originally a damask weaver, and secured an engagement at Kingholm when the tweed trade was begun there.

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