Secrets of the Mill


A day of heavy rain means a day in town scouting locations for upcoming shoots.  Here, the iron face of the seven-foot-tall disused coal burner in the dark bowels of Hawick's old mill.  The coal burner powered the knitting machines clattering away on the floors above after the immense water wheel was put to rest. 

Nearby to the coal burner, lovely Lindsay, the building manager giving me a private tour, points to a small, low, partially-hidden wooden door secured with an ancient bolt.  With a sweet half-smile, he asks me to open it. 

Slightly wary, I push the bolt and swing the door open, gasping in delighted surprise when it reveals a long low arched channel sculpted into the 8-foot thick foundation walls.  A man's height below and at the other end of the channel: the roaring river, turbulent and muddy after days of heavy rain!

Lindsay smiles.  "The poaching station," he tells me.  "So the men could have fish for lunch."  In Scotland, even now, fishing rights are held by the wealthy landowners whose land the waters run through.  But in the mill, many a stomach was well fed for only the cost of the climb down the ladder and the labor to pull the fish from the wash.