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The White Cart Mills


Many of us who walk through the Linn Park area admire the river Cart and its surroundings, but if you look closely you can find some reminders of the river’s industrial past.

Mills existed on the river Cart from Netherlee to Pollok from the late 1600s and provided employment for many local people, made some families rich, and also played a central role in the development and prosperity of the area.

We are going to focus on three mills that we can see (or detect in part) while on a walk through the park and point out at least one other that has now disappeared. If we look for them today, we can still see some signs of these early industries.

Starting at the southern end of Linn Park, the first waterfall and mill was at Netherlee…


Google map of Linn Park and surrounds with locations of the old White Cart mills marked
Google Map of Linn Park and surrounds with locations of the lost White Cart mills marked (approximately).




Netherlee mill lands are situated immediately over the boundary wall from the Lime tree avenue at Netherlee. There were at least six types of water powered industry at Netherlee, including a waulk mill (1730s), snuff mill (1750s), bleachfields (1766), and paper mills from the 1730s.

Remains of the dam can be seen, especially on the Netherlee side of the river. Below the dam, on the Crematorium side of the river, the Ramloch Burn falls into the Cart on the park boundary. The mills turned Netherlee into an industrial village which by the 1850s employed hundreds and competed with Cathcart in scale. Everybody relied on the flow and power of the White Cart for their livelihood.


Photograph of Netherlee village circa late 1800s
Netherlee village circa late 1800s; courtesy of Gerry Blaikie


Linn Mill


The buildings of Linn Mill and its settlement were deliberately swept away when laying out Linn estate and building the driveway to Linn House, so nothing is left of this mill. This mill was at the site of the main falls in the park.

Careful inspection of the site will show that this end of the falls is greatly altered to support this mill. A small weir, made of a single course of sandstone masonry blocks, is fixed to the crest of the falls by metal bands to divert the water into the lade. The sluice opening in the bank can still be seen, plus remains of the metal control valve.

Following the path down below the falls, the tailrace of the mill exits at the square opening in the face of the sill. Deep inside the tunnel, the iron waterwheel still lies buried in the wheel pit. The site is crying out for archaeological investigation, both of the sawmill and the earlier waulk mill.




The next dam downstream at Millholm powered a paper mill. Millholm was the third paper mill in the parish after Newlands and Netherlee. Initially it was known as the “Mid Paper Miln of Cathcart”, as it was situated between the other two.

Millholm had numerous owners over its two centuries of operation, the most notable of whom were the Halls and the Coupers. The Couper brothers built houses on Netherlee Road at Braehead, then decided to build villas above the mill.

Robert Couper had a villa, ‘Sunnyside’, designed by architect James Smith (now demolished). Shortly after, James Couper commissioned Alexander Thomson to design ‘Holmwood’ alongside, now restored by the National Trust for Scotland.


The restored cornice and ceiling plasterwork, painted wall and carved wooden door in the drawing room of Holmwood House, designed by Alexander Thomson, in Cathcart, Glasgow.
Detail of restored decorative plasterwork & painted wall at Holmwood House


He also left a sum of money  – the “Couper Bequest” – for the benefit of local people in dire need, the only condition being that they reside within a mile of Cathcart. The Couper Bequest also funded the construction of the now Category B-listed Couper Institute Library (1923-24) built as an extension of the older Couper Institute which was built in 1887-88.

Miss Marion Couper, the last of the family, died in 1933 aged 84. It was she who launched a scheme.to start the Victoria Infirmary as she was disturbed at the lack of hospital facilities on the south side of the Clyde. The ‘Victoria’ was eventually opened in 1890. So, the mills and the wealth they created really transformed Cathcart and the south of Glasgow.


Photograph of Millholm paper mill circa 1930s courtesy of Gerry Blaikie
Millholm paper mill circa early 1930s; courtesy of Gerry Blaikie


By the beginning of the twentieth century, Millholm had become part of paper-making giant Wiggins Teape, manufacturing typing paper from rags and wood pulp. The mill finally closed in 1929 and the chimney and most of the original buildings were demolished in the 1930s.

The gatehouse and two mill houses on the road down to the mill were occupied into the 1970s but damaged by fire and demolished. If you look closely, a great deal of remains survive along the river. On the mill road, the cobbles and flatter paving for the cart wheels, can still be seen.


Snuff Mill


Lastly we get to perhaps the best known mill hereabouts, Snuff Mill, as the surrounding road and bridge share its name and it sits in a scenic location.


Waterolour painting of Cathcart Mill and the Old Bridge (also known as Snuff Mill Bridge) over the White Cart Water, circa 1830. Copyright: National Trust for Scotland
Cathcart Mill and the Old Bridge (also known as Snuff Mill Bridge) over the White Cart Water, c 1830. Watercolour by artist unknown. Copyright: National Trust for Scotland.


This mill was used latterly to produce snuff but had an earlier history as a dye mill. In 1835 the lease was taken over by Solomon Lindsay. His legacy remains in the tenements that he built across from the mill: ‘Lindsay House’.

Next time you visit the Linn Park, try looking for the remains of the old mill industries on the river banks, a reminder of Cathcart’s industrial heritage.


By Dougie McLellan

Published: 1st June 2022


References & further reading:


Stuart Nisbet from his articles: ‘Netherlee and Linn Mills’ (The Eastwoodian, Vol.1, 1989); ‘Renfrewshire Snuff Mills’ (RLHF Journal, Vol.6 1994); The Four Paper Mills of Cathcart (Scottish Local History, Vol.49, 2001).

Special thanks to Gerry Blaikie whose website gerryblaikie.com was the primary source material for this article. His website has many interesting articles on Glasgow architecture.

Photograph of Netherlee Village courtesy of Gerry Blaikie

Photograph of Millholm paper mill courtesy of Gerry Blaikie

Painting of Cathcart Mill and the Old Bridge (also known as Snuff Mill Bridge) over the White Cart Water, c 1830. Watercolour by artist unknown. Copyright: National Trust for Scotland; courtesy of The Glasgow Story.

What is a waulk mill (aka a fulling mill)?


3 replies added

  1. Sheila dunn June 2, 2022 Reply

    Very well written and informative. I didn’t realise there was such a history in the local area

  2. Maggie Deegan September 8, 2023 Reply

    I used to play in the ruins of one of the old mills on the river Cart in the 1940’s, your article brought back some happy memories, thank you, Maggie (nee Dunbar.)

    • FT-Researcher February 1, 2024 Reply

      Hi Maggie, would you happen to know anything about the River Cart Sawmill in Paisley? I know it was operational in the 1920’s. Would it have been known by another name? Do you know what happened to it?
      Many Thanks

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