Milton of Campsie local history
Milton of Campsie (or ‘Milltown’, as occasionally spelled) is thought to be a comparatively modern name, although some of the local mills were hundreds of years old. There were at least three corn mills near the village, all attached to large estates, namely Glorat, Lochmill (for Antermony Estate) and Frenchmill (for Kincaid). There were in addition at least two other mills, both lint mills for the processing of flax for the linen industry. Perhaps it was Frenchmill, very close to the village, that gave rise to the ‘Milton’ name, although this is unclear.
A great leap forward took place in 1786, with the opening of a calico printing works at Kincaid. This signified an important change in the local textile industry, from linen to cotton. Kincaidfield, as it was known, was soon providing employment for a large number of workers, and the village of Milton began to grow significantly in size.
A second printfield was opened at Lillyburn during the 1790s. It was converted to a whisky distillery in 1826, but soon reverted to calico printing. Throughout the nineteenth century the local textile printing industry continued to flourish, but Kincaidfield closed in 1901 and Lillyburn in 1929. The works at Kincaid was demolished, but Lillyburn was converted to a pulp packaging manufactory, which eventually closed during the 1980s.
Milton of Campsie derived great benefit from the opening of a centrally-placed railway station in 1848, on a branch line built during that year from a junction on the Edinburgh & Glasgow Railway, at Lenzie, to Lennoxtown. It served the village well for over a century, until closure in 1951, by which date, road transport options had been greatly improved. Visitors to Milton today should perhaps make a point of visiting Kincaid House, the ancient seat of the Kincaids of that ilk. So much of Milton’s history is closely linked to that of Kincaid. It was the Kincaid estate mill at Frenchmill that seems to have given the village its name, and it was on the Kincaid estate during the 1780s that the calico printing industry, so important to Milton’s economy during the nineteenth century, was first established.
The owner of Kincaid estate during the 1830s, John Lennox Kincaid Lennox, inherited nearby Woodhead and combined the two estates. He built Lennox Castle to serve as an appropriate dwelling for the inheritor of extensive landed property.
When in the Lillyburn area, visitors should remember the important McNab family who once owned the calico printing works there. Alexander McNab (1819-97) was responsible for the supply of gas and running water to the village of Milton and provided funding for the building of a public hall, in 1887. His framed portrait can be seen at the hall, in Craighead Road. Another significant local family, the Stirlings of Glorat, still own the Glorat Estate.