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Broadford Works: Old Mill, South Mill, New Mill, Maberly Street, Aberdeen

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Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved. © Copyright and database right 2019.

General Details and Location

Name of Building
Broadford Works: Old Mill, South Mill, New Mill
Other Name(s)
Broadford Firehose and Canvas Works (Former)
Maberly Street, Aberdeen
Planning Authority
Divisional Area
Reference No
Listing Category
OS Grid Ref
NJ 93582 06893
Location Type
HS Reference No


Range of 4 and 5 storey mills in the centre of the site, Old Mill (7 bays) 1808, South Mill (8 bays) circa 1820, New Mill (14 bays) 1850-60. Part of large group of textile manufacturing and storage buildings, granite and brick-clad, of iron-framed or reinforced concrete construction, with setted streets between them. Slate or flat concrete roofs.

The oldest iron-framed mill in Scotland and the fourth oldest known to survive in the world (after others of 1796, 1804 and 1805, all inter- related). The adjoining South Mill may be the third iron framed building in Scotland.

Built for Scott Brown and Co (of Angus), 1808, bankrupt 1811 and sold to Sir John Maberly MP, entrepreneur, speculator and introducer of jute to the UK. Maberley rapidly developed Broadford Works, adopting the first gas lighting of an industrial complex in Scotland, by Boulton and Watt in 1814-15, and Scotland's second power loom linen weaving factory in Scotland in 1824. Maberly was himself bankrupt and in 1834 the works passed to Richards and Co, who had a bleachworks at Rubislaw and branches at Montrose, produced canvas tarpaulins and as a particular specialism, fire hoses. Latterly man- made fibres for carpet yarn etc has replaced flax. Employment peaked at 3,000, once the largest single employer in Aberdeen. (Historic Scotland).
Building Dates
1808; 1820; 1850-60

Category of Risk and Development History

Category of Risk
Exemptions to State of Risk
Field Visits
12/06/2008, 19/09/2017
Development History
July 2004: 13 July 2004: The Aberdeen Evening Express reports that the works are vacant and unused. Hawkrow Ltd is seeking permissions to convert some listed structures into flats and to build 5 blocks of flats, 4 houses, a car park and supermarket on the site. A strict planning brief for the site was compiled by local planners in 2001 and allows for the demolition of the eastern side of the site.
July 2007: 22 June 2007: The Aberdeen Evening Express reports that an application has been put before the planning committee by First Construction for a £50m scheme centred on the mill including 398 flats, shops, offices, a restaurant, a pub and 501 parking spaces. No decision was reached pending a site visit. Concerns were raised over the height of some of the buildings, the impact on shops on George Street, a lack of affordable housing and the lack of a playpark.
June 2008: Limited external inspection possible due to restricted access to site. North range of New Mill has most of its windows broken, the is some buddlia growth on the parapet and tower.
July 2008: The Aberdeen Evening Express reports that an appeal against the refusal of planning permission, due to lack of affordable housing, may be given permission to commence work, but will have to re-apply for Listed Building Consent.
August 2008: Local planners report that planning permission has been granted, following an appeal and inquiry. Listed building consent has not yet been granted.
June 2009: STV Newswebsite reports on a fire breaking out at the Broadford Works site, one building is reported to have had damage to the roof, with further damage to other buildings. Local planners advise that they hope to make a site visit to the Works in the near future.
December 2009: Local planners report that Tenants First Housing Co-operative has expressed interest in Broadford Works.
February 2011: The Press & Journal reports on a public consultation to commence next week on revised plans for Broadford Works complex. The article notes the proposal is to convert the site to a housing/ leisure complex with an additional new build element of 220 flats. A Proposal of Application Notice was submitted to Aberdeen City Council Oct 2010 ref: 101667.
August 2011: Local planners confirm a fire occurred at the site yesterday. Not thought to have caused any serious damage. Prince's Regeneration Trust and the site‘s owners are continuing to work together to draw up development plans for the site.
December 2011: Urban Realm website reports applications have been lodged with Aberdeen City Council to develop the former mill site into a residential development, retail and restaurant spaces and a nursety, with access to the city opened up by a series of new public spaces. The article notes a phased programme led by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust is planned to implement the scheme with close collaboration between the site owner, the Council, Historic Scotland and the Tenant First House Co-operative.
3 July 2012: Aberdeen City Council have produced, in partnership with the building's owner and Grampian Fire and Rescue Service, a risk assessment survey of the former works, highlighting security issues around the perimeter of the site that pose hazards to unauthorised accessing of the site, and to emergency services personnel responding to incidents at the site. The report outlines measures to reduce unauthorised accessing of the site and measures to reduce hazards within the site. Alongside this report a Dangerous Building Notice has been served requiring works to be completed by July 30 2012. During this period the Council's Community Safety Team has introduced CCTV monitoring of the site and City Wardens are increasing patrols around the site.
20 July 2012: STV News reports First Construction Limited's proposal to create 517 new homes, commercial space, restaurant, and nursery, with retention and conversion of 11 of the A-listed buildings, has failed to gain permission at Aberdeen City Council's development sub committee meeting. The article goes on to report concerns were expressed over the lack of affordable housing, the numbers of historic buildings proposed for demolition, potential over-development of the site and a lack of planning gain contributions towards local infrastructure.
28 November 2012: Limited external inspection possible from the boundary of the site. General, slow deterioration in condition is evident.
11 November 2013: Urban Realm report Aberdeen City Council is to consider an application from Scottish Historic Buildings Trust towards funding to conduct an options appraisal for the oldest building on the site, understood to be Scotland's oldest iorn-framed mill. The Architectural Heritage Fund, Historic Scotland, Aberdeen City Heritage Trust and owners First Construction Ltd have committed a total of £10,000 towards the study - which would complete a details survey of the building identifying potential end-uses, users and designs. Aberdeen City Council is being asked for £15,000 towards the project.
15 February 2017: Planning Permission in Principle, revising an earlier proposal, was conditionally approved Sept 2016 for a residential/ commercial and leisure redevelopment of the former mill site. A number of the structures within the complex were previously approved for demolition Jan 2015 and some of these demolition works are currently underway.
19 September 2017: Accompanied site visit with new owner's site agent. External and partial internal survey. The oldest section of the mill building has been subject to long-standing movement - it is not known whether the movement is ongoing. Window glazings are widely broken/ missing, ground floor openings are boarded up. Rainwater goods are clogged with vegetation in places and downpipes are missing in sections. Some dampness to walls is evident beneath missing/ malfunctioning rainwater goods.
26 April 2018: Listed Building Consents for the redevelopment of the former works are now being sought. Listed Building Consent for substantial demolition of South Mill, Old Mill and the stair tower, with retention of the remaining sections of the building is being sought ref: 180535/LBC.
An accompanying application is being sought for the restoration and conversion to mixed use of the remaining buildings within the site, with extensions and new build elements, ref: 180531/LBC.

Guides to Development

Conservation Area
Planning Authority Contact
PAC Telephone Number
01224 522246


Current Availability
Not Available
Appointed Agents
Occupancy Type
Present/Former Uses
Name of Owners
Type of Ownership

Information Services

Additional Contacts/Information Source
K A Falconer "Fireproof Mills - the Widening Perspectives" in INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW XIV 1, AUTUMN 1993, pp11-26. J Tann THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE FACTORY (1970) P 44. Birmingham Reference Library Boulton and Watt Collection pf.81. E Gauldie pp 112-125 in J Butt and K Ponting eds, SCOTTISH TEXTILE HISTORY (AUP 1987). A GUIDE TO SCOTTISH INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE (1996) p 34. A J Warden THE LINEN TRADE ANCIENT AND MODERN (1864) pp 540-1 , 711.
Online Resources
Textile Industries
Original Entry Date
Date of Last Edit