The Buildings

Please select from the names below to find out a little more about the buildings that make up Eskmills.

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Stuart House

Stuart House, the main building at Eskmills, housed spinning and weaving machines on all floors. It was built in 1867. The design was sold as a 'fireproof' Mill construction, with iron columns (by the Musgrave Foundry) and floor formers, infilled with brick arches and concrete. Prior to this, mill buildings were primarily constructed of timber, and regularly burnt down with loss of life, and production. Each floor has the same iron arches and beams, sold as an interlocking kit, with only the column heights differing. An early form of system building. The roof is timber slate covered with roof lighting, in five pitched sections. The valleys were originally drained via the internal columns, but now by external rainwater pipes. Following the closing of net manufacturing, Stuart House had been left to deteriorate. Whilst structurally still sound, is was in a poor state. The front façade is in highly decorative stonework, with four statues on the top level (the top floor was a later addition by the owners) featuring Grecian style female statues holding in turn, a cotton bobbin, an Anchor, a bible, and a bundle of cotton or flax plants. All reflecting in a way the buildings purpose. A later expansion on the East side of the building, housed the water tank and stair (for all the size of the building, it only when built had one stair) and is topped by a cast iron clock tower, with a four faced clock, which is a feature used and seen by the whole of Musselburgh. The tower was cast by the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow – a major ironworks at the time and famous among other things for casting the decorative ironwork for Raffles Hotel in Singapore.

In developing Stuart House, a single and two storey building which had been added to the original building were demolished, with the windows on the ground and first floor being reinstated. Many new cast iron windows were cast using the existing as templates. Substantial stone repairs and replacements were carried out to the Courtyard façade which had been patched and repaired over the years in cement render. The clock tower was fully dismantled and new cast iron ornamentation was cast as required to replace broken or missing components again using existing items as patterns and the whole reassembled. East Lothian Council who had in store the mechanism from the historic 'Hayweights Clock', a well known Musselburgh landmark which had been moved to facilitate construction of the Brunton Hall in the town, agreed to donate the mechanism which was then rehoused with some additions to power the four faces of the Eskmills Clock. A new central stair with adjacent lift shafts was constructed in the building, the roof had substantial repairs and has been slated to match the original finish.

Hercules House

This building on the West side of the Courtyard is basically a new steel framed building, behind an existing stone façade. The original single story Mill building reached from the Courtyard in a run of seven pitched roof bays to the boundary wall with Station Road. This was demolished, retaining the Courtyard façade and the north end two bay section. The new two storey building with the upper floor within the roof to retain the external profile was constructed behind the Courtyard façade. The north section was reconstructed as per the original with a two bay pitched roof, retaining an example of the original construction.

The balance of the original building floorplate is given over to parking accessed from Station Road. The new façade to this parking was done in facing 'common' brick and render with detailing sympathetic to the Victorian mill buildings. At the north end above the impressive courtyard door and pediment is a stone shield with the letter S and date 1867. This a new carving to replace an existing which was too badly damaged to restore. The S is for Stuart, the Mill's owners and 1867 the date of original construction.

Archibald Hope House

Archibald Hope House is named after a local landowning family the Hopes and in particular Sir Archibald Hope who at one point owned part of the land on which Eskmills sits.

The Hopes had collieries, the main one being at Craighall before they opened another shaft to the North and built Newcraighall.

North House

Formerly the despatch warehouse for the Mill, this building at the north end of the Courtyard (hence the name) was a simple single storey high eaves building with ornamental stone façade to the Courtyard. It was connected on the other side to maintenance workshops for the Mill, and required the construction of a new entrance to the building on that elevation, following demolition of these adjoining workshops.

The former entrance, a stone arched double height doorway on the courtyard side has been turned into a feature window. The former weighbridge for the Mill still sits in its original location in the Courtyard, adjacent to the original door of this building.

Old Engine House

The Old Engine House, comprises two buildings which at one time housed the main steam engines which provided the power for the Mill replacing water wheels. The engines were Musgrave engines which took water from a well in the Courtyard, which still exists (however is now covered by a glass lid) and using coal as the heat source converted the water to steam which powered the engines. Power was delivered to the mil buildings and the machines within them, by systems of drive shafts and belt pulleys.

The old bolt positions which held the high level brackets on which the drive shafts rotated, can still be seen on the exterior of Archibald Hope House at high level in vertical pairs between the windows. The two story façade of the Engine House is in the South East corner of the Courtyard. It had three long windows on the upper level, with a date carved in the keystones of the left and right windows, giving date of construction as 1857. To put into context 1857 was also the date of the Indian Mutiny and the 'Black Hole of Calcutta', the American Civil War was 1861 – 65.

The Drying House & Summers House

The Mill Office

This single storey Pavilion building in the North end of the Courtyard was a later edition to the Mill. It was built as offices for the two Stuart brothers each having the same sized office on either side of a circular central area capped by an ornamental plaster dome. Each office had a bay window and a fireplace for heating. Is was constructed in the then fashionable Egyptian style, with battered stone basecourse and ashlar stone face, with the windows and doors being tapered openings similar to those found on ancient Egyptian buildings, being explored at the time. A similar Pavilion building exists in Trinity College in Dublin. Beneath this building is a later added basement which housed the main clerical records of the business.

By the time the site had been assembled and development started, the roof had collapsed and two substantial stone lions which flanked the doorway have been moved by an interim owner to a garden in the Thames Valley. The building was taken back to the stone walls, and redeveloped in sympathy with the original but with a glass 'tent' extension projecting into the Courtyard. A new dome has been constructed and this together with the glass extension makes a dramatic building both internally and externally. The building operates as a bar/restaurant, and is a great asset to Eskmills and to Musselburgh