Can Do Carluke Team Aims to Reclaim Historic Local Windmill

by Ross Stebbing

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Iain ScottA community group in Carluke is taking part in a ground-breaking initiative which aims to give Scottish communities the opportunity and tools to revitalise their town centres.

The Can Do Towns Innovation Challenge equips local residents with unique support, advice and skills to bring creative ideas to transform their towns to reality – helping to substantially boost local economies and revive community spirit through the creation of new businesses and jobs.

The Carluke Development Trust, one of the first 15 towns to get involved in the challenge, is already aiming high – intending to reclaim Scotland’s most important surviving windmill, known locally as the “High Mill”.

Believed to be the most complete windmill in Scotland, the 18th century grain mill was converted from wind power to steam power in the 1830s and then gas in the early 1900s but hasn’t been in use since before WW2.

The Carluke group aims to turn the disused property into a fully functioning mill again – with plans in place to also create local produce.

Carluke Development Trust is collaborating with local community activists and other groups such as the Carluke Parish Historical Society and the Clydesdale Mills Society to secure the future of the mill.


Tom Sneddon, who is one of the coordinators from the Trust, believes the disused space could be easily transformed into a thriving hub of activity.

He said: “We are aiming to buy the land and get the mill up and running again, using the flour it produces to make our own local produce – such as artisan bread.

“However the opportunities here are endless, we are also looking at creating a cook school, cafe and kitchen.

“We believe the mill could also be used for alternative purposes such as educational visits for schools, and even for weddings.

“An Options Appraisal was carried out last year and plans have been drawn up for a development at the High Mill which would cost around £4 million.

“Our position has certainly progressed – and we are now in discussion with the owner, and our early discussions with major funders such as the Big Lottery have proven positive.

“We believe with the skills and training we’ve received from the Can Do Towns Innovation Challenge we are now far more prepared to move forward with our plans.

Tom has also reached out for other local residents to get involved with the challenge.

He said: “We are looking for more community members to get involved in the challenge and hope to bring on-board people with the imagination, and the business and practical skills to realise such imagination – and people who will be inspired by what we are trying to achieve.”


Further backing for the challenge has also come from Sir Angus Grossart, chairman and joint founder of merchant bank Noble Grossart LTD.

He said: “I fully support what the community group is trying to achieve and the idea of local towns reviving unused buildings and liberating the potential of heritage.

“There is much history attached to the High Mill and a bold initiative to try and turn this into a thriving hub of activity again.

“I wish the community group continued success and I hope they are able to achieve their objectives in uplifting the town.”

This level of enterprise is completely new to Carluke – and a far bigger project than community members have tackled up to now.

However, it is a process that has been entirely rewarding and beneficial to all those who have been involved.

Tom added: “The Can Do Towns team has been fantastic in encouraging our ideas, matching our enthusiasm with practical advice and expertise from those that have been there before us – challenging us to critically review and focus our ideas, and to remain open to new routes to project success – providing key contacts within the sectors we are pitching to and giving us access to the specialist advice we need.”

The Scotland Can Do Towns Innovation Challenge – which is being supported by the Scottish Government’s £3m Scotland Can Do Action Framework – Is being run by the Scottish Business Resilience Centre in partnership with 1001 Enterprising Scots.

Co-ordinator Iain Scott said: “The Innovation Challenge offers a unique opportunity to look at how we can develop our town centres in a different and aspirational way.

“For too long, we’ve used old thinking and solutions to solve current day problems to revitalise our town centres.

“What has been missed is the realisation that towns like Carluke are full of amazing people and amazing places – and by combining these together there can bring monumental change.”

The Innovation Challenge is open to any groups in towns across Scotland. Typically those taking part are in a Development Trust Association (DTA) or Business Improvement District (BID), or are working to form such local groups.

The project does not look for fully formed proposals – it seeks short and simple ideas in the first instance which outline how communities can be transformed into inventive spaces or ideas to benefit town centres.

Each idea then goes through a unique, development process described as the “Enterprise Artery Model” – this involves initially discussing and testing ideas, refining and testing the concept before culminating in turning the idea into a solid, well-researched proposal.

The aim is to create final, fully fledged projects – supported where required by community fund raising efforts, public funding, and crowd funding and/or community shares – that can be taken to external financiers or local authority planners to stand the best possible chance of being approved.

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Public rleations agency account executive Ross Stebbing

Private: Ross Stebbing

As part of the expert PR team at a fast-paced Scottish public relations agency, Ross Stebbing works on diverse clients in sectors including film and media, construction, healthcare and logistics. While he delivers PR in Edinburgh, his results appear in newspapers, magazines and websites all across the UK and beyond.

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