Quendale Water Mill in Shetland

Quendale Water Mill

The Quendale Estate dates back to the 16th Century but it wasn’t until 1770 that the Grierson family acquired it and became the Lairds. The Mill was commissioned to be built in 1867 by the Grierson family and grinding began at the Mill the following year.

Its primary purpose was to handle the grain for crofters from a very wide surrounding area. Most of the grinding was done in winter when there was plenty of water in the dam to drive the Mill’s machinery.
John Anderson from Forfar was the first miller, followed in 1870 by James Burnett. In the late 1870’s, Charles Langskaill took over and held the job until Alex Simpson from Aberdeenshire succeeded him in 1886. He continued until George Leslie of Laxfirth took over the farm in 1899. Laurence Leslie, a young Dunrossness man, had trained with Alex Simpson and was now given the job of miller, a post he was to hold for most of his working life. The Mill by this time was extremely busy with carts coming with loads from all over Dunrossness; storage space in the Mill and outhouses were filled to bursting point. At this time the only other large Mills in Shetland were at Weisdale and Girlsta.

Health Problems

Laurence Leslie continued to work at the Mill until 1911 when he had to take leave due to health problems caused by the amount of dust generated through milling. Mr Scott filled in for him until he returned two years later. This time he worked for another three years and then joined the Naval Reserve and Adam Eunson took over the post as miller. When the war ended Laurence Leslie once again returned to the Quendale Mill to continue milling and stayed until 1930 before deciding to move to Vancouver with his family.
Andrew Arcus, who had worked with Laurence Leslie in the late 1920’s, then took over milling at Quendale Water Mill. It was unfortunately short-lived as he caught his hand in the cogs of the machinery and had to step down from the post as miller. Laurence Leslie had returned from Canada in 1932 and was called on again to take up the post as miller at Quendale Water Mill. He continued here until 1941 when Adam Eunson took over once again. Adam Eunson stayed in charge until the Mill ceased operations in 1948.

All items donated or loaned for display at the Quendale Mill

A few examples are shown of the many and varied collections on display:

Crofters Tools
Carpenter's Tools
Stonemason's Tools
Hand-crafted carts and Wagons
Original Dunrossness Baptist Church Pulpit
RMS Oceanic Collections
Coin and Banknote Collections

Quendale Area Clearance. A map of the area showing crofts from where families were evicted to make way for sheep farming in the late 1800's
Agricultural machinery (Mill and Courtyard):
Threshing machines, Reapers, Ploughs, Chaff Cutter, Cake Breaker, Turnip Hasher, Neep (Turnip) machines, Fanners

Hand Crafted Carts:
Made to scale and lovingly finished, this display has been donated to the Quendale Mill collection by Mr Andrew White:Royal Mail Coach; Shetland Tip-Cart; Monmouthshire Waggon; Portuguese Gig; Dray.

Baptist Kirk Pulpit:
Built in 1912 by local voluntary labour under the watchful eye of Rev. W. Fotheringham (Pastor of Dunrossness Baptist Church from 1901 – 1916). During refurbishment of the Kirk the pulpit was rescued from certain destruction by a member of the South Mainland Community History Group who saw it as a valuable addition to the varied collections and displays in the Mill.


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