Darnley Mill

The name of Darnley appears on the earliest known sources relating to the area, but the first reference to the mill is not on a map but in a document entitled Gift under the Privy Seal to Robert Lord Semple, of the nonentry maills of Cruikston, etc. dating from December 10th 1553. It begins

Ane Lettre maid to Robert Lord Symple, his airis and assignais ane or ma of the gift of the nonentres, males, fermes, proffittis, and dewities, of all and hale the hundredth pund land of auld extent of Crukistoun, Crukisfew, Neilstoun, Neilstounside … the myln of Dernly … the Manis of Darnly.

(Gardner 1890 in Speller and Taylor 1996, 7)

Earlier maps such as Pont’s (1583-96), Blaeu’s (1654) and Moll’s (1745) show the general location of Darnley (or Darly) and Roy’s map (1747-55) notes the name Darnley, although the location is slightly obscured by a fold in the map! It is John Ainslie’s Map of the County of Renfrew (1800) that first shows the location and presence of Darnley (or Darnlie) Mill. A 19-year lease dating to 1799 between Sir Robert Maxwell and Robert Carswell in the Pollock estate papers refers to the Darnley Mill Farm. The farm was previously leased to James Ferguson and was extensive, containing 44 acres of land, the mill and associated buildings, and various houses.

Darnley Mill Farm c1830. On the first edition Ordnance Survey map (1858-64), the mill is noted specifically as a corn mill. The complex depicted there includes the mill, mill lade and a structure running parallel to this, the farm cottage and associated gardens, a small building to the north of the cottage and two elongated structures to the east. The mill lade is shown running north, parallel to Corselet Road. Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD) undertook an extensive piece of work on this feature in 1996 (Speller and Taylor 1996). The results indicated that there is little known history attached to the mill buildings, but point to an illustration by Taylor from 1831 entitled ‘Darnley House’ as a likely representation of the mill complex. The building depicted is similar to the cottage GUARD surveyed, and architecturally it appears to date to the sixteenth or seventeenth century.

By 1897, the Ordnance Survey maps suggest the farm layout had altered; the mill and cottage were linked on the east side and divided internally into smaller structures. A series of structures extended north from the small building parallel to the mill lade, replacing earlier features. Since this work was undertaken several elements have been demolished and the complex has been redeveloped as a restaurant.