The previous post looked at flax cultivation and the preparation of the harvested flax for spinning within the mill that once operated in Lower Largo (shown in the photograph above in a later guise as an oil and cake mill). Following on from 'part 1', the drawing below shows the mill first floor plan and describes the "wet" spinning process, as well as providing other contextual information. To view this in a new window as a zoom-able PDF, please click here.
Once the flax was spun, 'reeling' or 'winding' took place. This was a labour-intensive process and described below. In the census of 1851 there were several folks described as 'yarn winders' in Largo, including 81-year-old George Kidd Senior and 13-year-old Isabel Bell. There were also a few recorded as 'pirn winders', which included 10-year-old George White and 12-year-old Caroline Lindsay. After winding, the spun yarn was dried. Full details of this and more are given in the drawing below - click here for a PDF version.
Finally, to round off this two-parter, the drawing below shows the three levels of the main mill building in relation to the water wheel and the boiler and engine. The annotations indicate that the preparation of the flax took place on the ground floor, the spinning on the first floor and the reeling in the level above that. To view this as a PDF - click here. It was quite an operation and one that brought significant employment to the villages. In a future post it might be interesting to look more closely at some of the people that worked in the mill and what happened to them when it closed.
Below are a couple of photographs taken inside a flax spinning mill in Arbroath. To see a film of a more modern (1940s) version of the flax spinning process, click the link below....