The original Dowies weir was constructed in the 17th Century to divert water into Dowies Mill, a sawmill from mid 17th century. It was purchased in 1872 by the Caddell family and adapted to produce spades and nails as an iron works. Today only the accommodation/workers buildings remain with very little of the once busy industrial hub still easily seen, with the mill suffering from multiple fires and a flood event altering the site considerably in 1935.
There is a ‘beach’ area a little further down from the river, this area is used as an official ash scattering point for funerals, mostly those of Hindu and Sikh beliefs. When the river is at low flow you can see the stone/concrete floor of the former mill building and if you look in to the river bed itself you can see the base of the pillars that the mill rested upon.
An excerpt from the Archaeological notes on Canmore.org.uk, says; In 1859 Dowie’s Mill consisted of a forge and buildings, with a furnace and chimney, two hearth fires, an anvil, two water wheels, blast fanners, etc, a waterfall of 7ft 10 inches with dam and sluices, an eight-roomed house, four smaller houses of which one was the foreman’s, a turning shop with a warehouse above, the sawmill with a wooden water wheel, shed and saw bench, a shaftbending or boiler house, old nail and chain shops, foreman’s workshop with three hearths and a spade finishing shop, with five fires and a warehouse above. A considerable quantity of spades continued to be made up to 1860.
In 1975 the construction of the A90 flyover removed a second older bridge, upstream of the current Cramond Brig. In blast demolition of the structure the weir was also blasted in the centre to allow the water level to drop. The centre of the weir was repaired and further faces of the structure were concealed beneath a layer of concrete.
FRT, through the RiverLife project, are in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council forming plans to adapt the remaining weir structure to better allow all species of fish to move up and down the river. This is sensitive work in order to maintain the local infrastructure under the river, protect the history for the future and increase ecological value of the river Almond.
Where can I see it?
The weir remains can be seen from the historic Cramond Brig, which is closed to vehicles and so is a great look out spot. Otherwise walking down the left hand back when looking downstream will take you along a path to a wooded area in which the remains of the weir and it’s multiple repairs can be seen.
Information is currently going out and plans will be updated as they come to light.