The Hillfoot Villages of Clackmannanshire have long been associated with production of cloth from wool.
At Tillicoultry, drovers, herding their animals, came down from their crossing of the Ochils, no doubt stopping for refreshment at the Woolpack Inn.
In the villages stream power had been harnessed to power mills. You can read about this in last week’s post.
By the 1850s, steam had been developed as an alternative source of power and by 1870 Tillicoultry had 12 mills employing over 2000 people. However, although water was still needed for washing and dyeing the wool and to produce the steam, it was no longer critical to have a powerful, fast-flowing stream. Other places could have mills.
The textile mills in the Hillfoot villages gradually closed down. The road names give clues as to where things once were.
But many of the buildings still exist and have been converted to other uses. The Strude Mill dominates the view of Alva.
The building has been converted into apartments.
The Clock Mill at Tillicoultry became a museum and then a business centre. Today it is also apartments.
So plenty of people are still living in the Hillfoot Villages but where do they work today? Of course many people travel to Stirling, Edinburgh or Glasgow for their job, but there are local opportunities too. The Alva industrial estate is home to a brewery, while a company in Tillicoultry exports excavator attachments and an old paper mill has been converted into a retail outlet that brings shoppers from afar. There are lots of smaller enterprises too.
I have one more post for you before we leave the Hillfoot Villages so join me next week for a look at the conservation of Mill Glen, above Tillicoultry.
Meanwhile I have prepared a summary map of what we have learnt about this area. To get hold of a copy, sign up for my newsletter and choose “Geography worksheets and ideas for further study”.