The Old Statistical Account of 1791-99, states that there were 3 lint mills in Largo Parish and that in Largo "the principal manufacture is weaving". It continues to record that "linens and checks are the great articles. Every weaver, and a good number of others, have their bleaching ground, where they prepare linen" to be sold in Dysart, Kirkcaldy, Cupar and Dundee.
A very descriptive advert from 1801 provides a clue to the precise origins of the above spinning mill. Published in the Caledonian Mercury of 3 August that year, the mill was advertised for public roup at the Edinburgh Royal Exchange Coffee-house on 8th September. What was on offer was "the remainder of the lease for 990 years, from Martinmas 1789, of Largo Mills and Grounds" within 100 yards of the harbour and a "similar distance from the manufacturing villages of Largo, Drummochy and Lundinmill, where work people are always to be had at an easy rate, and the greatest part of the old experienced hands may be obtained, a more desirable situation for such a business is hardly to be met with". It continued the specifications as....
"..consisting of about 4 acres of good ground, with a constant supply of water, and a fall of 24 feet. There is at present on the premises a Mill House 40 feet long (besides staircase and wheel shade) by 38 feet wide, lately occupied in spinning flax and tow yarns. The water wheel is an overshot 18 feet in diameter...".
The lengthy description points out that on the first floor there were four carding engines, lint and tow preparing frames, turning laith, rest, benches, etc. Upstairs on the second floor there were twelve spinning frames of 36 spindles each, while on the attic storey the reels were stored. In addition to this main building, there were also: a Malts Mill and Thirlage, a Waulk or Plash Mill*, Ware-room, Heckle-house, Wright's Shop, Stable and Byre. Finally, a "dwelling house fit for a manager, situated in Drummochy, with the household furniture therein" was included.
Crucially, the advert specifies that "the Mill and Machinery were erected about 2½ years ago" and are "little worse than new". That statement would place the main spinning mill building at a 1798-99 construction date, with its neighbouring smaller buildings probably even older. At any rate, quite an amount of industrial heritage was swept away when the site was cleared in the late 1930s. More on the history of the spinning mill to follow.
* A waulk mill or plashing mill was often found alongside a spinning mill. In it cloth was cleaned and thickened.