Stornoway’s Only Other Millwright

Having looked at John Mclennan who was the Miller & Millwright at Stornoway Mill Stornoway Mill from 1851 until the mill burned down in 1890, I am now turning my attention to the second Millwright of Stornoway.

John Munro, 29, Millwright, Nursery, Bayhead St, b. Pittenweem, Rossshire
Ann Munro, 30, Wife, b. Faw(?), Sutherland
Betty Munro, 3, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Jane Munro, 2, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Jane Mcpherson, 16, House Servant, b. Harris

John Munro, 40, Millwright, South Beach Street, b. Parish of ?, Rossshire
Ann Munro, 44, Wife, b. Ray(?) County, Sutherland
Betsy Munro, 13, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Jane Munro, 11, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Jemima Munro, 9, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Alexanderina Munro, 7, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Johanna Munro, 2, Daughter, b. Stornoway

John Munro, 40, Millwright, Goathill Cottage and Farm House, b. Kitton, Ross-shire
Ann Munro, 50, Keeper at Dairy, Wife, b. Tongue, Sutherland
Jane Munro, 20, Assistant Dairy, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Alexanderia Munro, 16, Assists at Dairy, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Johanna Munro, 11, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway

John Munro, 59, Mill Wright, 18 South Beach St, b. Kiltearn, Ross-shire
Ann Munro, 60, Wife, b. Lairg, Sutherlandshire
Alexina Munro, 26, General Servant, b. Stornoway
Thomas Hardee, 31, Bank Accountant, Lodger, b. Glencoe, Argyllshire

The first question that arises has to be which Mill was John Munro associated with during this time? Stornoway only had the one grain mill and we know that John Mclennan was the Miller and Millwright there. However, the New Statistical Account informs us that the town also had a Carding Mill and a Saw Mill so perhaps it was at one, or even both, of these that Munro worked?

Looking at his addresses we see that in 1851 it was the Nursery, Bayhead, then South Beach Street in 1861, Goathill Cottage & Farm House in 1871 and finally 18 South Beach Street in 1881. Unfortunately this flitting around the town does nothing to aid us in identifying where these other two mills were located but perhaps they supply some clues although what follows is extremely tentative:

The ‘Nursery, Bayhead’ might refer to what later became ‘Nursery Cottage’, home to the Gardener & Forester in 1871? If so, I think it may place John Munro within the Castle grounds in 1851.
The move to South Beach Street could well reflect the need both for a larger house (the Munro’s had 4 daughters by then) and to remain within easy reach of the Castle grounds?
‘Goathill Cottage’ is clearly shown on the 1st Edition OS 1″ map of 1858 (as is the Mill on the Bayhead River which the later 6″ map helpfully identifies as a Corn mill) and the family’s move out of town and diversification into Dairy Farming is perhaps indicative that Millwrighting alone was insufficient to maintain them?
Finally, the return to South Beach Street by 1881 following, presumably, three of the daughters being married or working elsewhere, suggests that the Dairy Farm was probably insufficiently profitable to continue.

All things considered I think John Munro was probably more likely to have been associated with the Grain Mill at Gress Farm, or the later one at North Dell in Barvas, although in 1881 there was a Miller whose address ‘Miller’s House, Barvas Road, Stornoway’ which is yet another mystery to be solved!

In 1841 there were some 195 people living in Mill Street, Stornoway including one of the town’s seven Sawyers and six of the Parish’s Hand Loom Weavers, including almost all of those who were resident in the town itself. Is it possible that the single waterwheel was used to power all three of the mills, or was it the case that in-between the writing of the New Statistical Account in the 1833 and either the 1841 Census, or certainly by the time that the 1858 map was being surveyed, the other two mills had ceased to function?

If all three were powered by the one wheel then the catastrophe of 28th February 1890 would explain why, with the exception of John Mclennan who in 1891 stayed-on at Mill House, we see no further records of any Millwrights in the town?


2 thoughts on “Stornoway’s Only Other Millwright

  1. Peter,Just an attempt at clarifying the question marks in the census entries. "Faw" can probably be interpreted as Farr, and Ray County, Sutherland should probably read as Reay (area around Durness). Ask Twitter contact @igrannie for details. Hope this helps,Guido

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