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Dornoch Town Square, Sutherland (Credit: Venture North)
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Spinningdale Cotton Mill

By Ann Goodwin Kerr

Architectural representation of the four-storey Spinningdale Cotton Mill on the north-western shore of the Dornoch Firth. Built 1792-4 by local landowner George Dempster of Skibo and his business partner, Cotton magnate, David Dale. The aim was to improve social and economic conditions in the area, as an alternative to clearing lands for sheep. They intended to raise the standard of living of the tenants, providing security which was thought would result in efforts to improve their houses and lands, and stem emigration. However, the project was unsuccessful. Attracting the local population to work regularly was difficult. It was also difficult to compete with prices further south. The site is important in providing evidence of an alternative social strategy to clearing landlords. Despite good intentions, the project, like so many in the Highlands set up by incomers, failed to over come local distrust nor financially compete with large scale operations to the south. The building was gutted by fire in 1806 and remains in perilous condition. - ARCH Highland website -