Saltoun Bleachfield

Scope and Content

Collection includes:

Journals, 1756-1773

General Ledgers, 1768-1773

Administrative / Biographical History

The bleachfield at Saltoun was purchased by the British Linen Company in the 1740s at the recommendation of the Board of Manfactures, in response to their concern at the higher price of bleaching in Scotland in comparison to the rest of Europe. It came into operation in 1748, and was operational until 1772.

The bleachfield was located on the Saltoun estate of Lord Milton, a keen supporter of the Scottish linen industry and Chairman of the Board of Manufactures' Linen Committee. Milton provided money to improve the bleachfield and purchase machinery, and waived the annual rent of 20 shillings per annum "until such time as the field became profitable". Work on improving the field began in 1746, and involved levelling the ground and constructing a dam head. By 1748, over £1,500 had been expended on construction costs and materials.

A scheme was launched to increase the supply of master-bleachers by training apprentices at Saltoun, which already practised both the Irish and Dutch methods of bleaching. Indeed, the training of bleaching apprentices may be considered the major contribution of Saltoun to the industry generally. While the bleachfield was under the ownership of the British Linen Company throughout, it was under the management of Ebenezer McCulloch & Co. from 1763 to 1765. The managers of Saltoun included James Armstrong (1747-65), Samuel Sinclair (1765-68) and Archibald Horn (1768-73). As part of the British Linen Company's movement away from the manufacture of linen, the bleachfield was sold to Lord Milton's son in 1772, who intended to make the property into a pleasure ground.


The collection is arranged into the following series:

  • SAL/1: Journals
  • SAL/2: General Ledgers

Access Information

Access is by appointment only, and at the discretion of the Archivist. Closure periods apply to some records less than 100 years old. Please e-mail for further information.

Other Finding Aids

An item level catalogue is available - please e-mail for further details.

Please note that this catalogue replaces the NRAS survey of the Saltoun Bleachfield records undertaken in the 1970s (NRAS945).

Conditions Governing Use

Copying of material is permitted at the discretion of Lloyds Banking Group Archives.

Related Material

  • GB1830 BLB1 - records of the British Linen Company (later the British Linen Bank)
  • GB1830 MCC - records of Ebenezer McCulloch and Company, Merchants
  • GB1830 ELC - records of the Edinburgh Linen Co-partnery
  • GB1830 ESY - records of the Edinburgh Stapleary of Yarn
  • Papers of Lord Milton (1725-1782) held at the National Library of Scotland (Ref. MSS 17560-77; 17579-86; 17594-600; Ch 14879-83)


  • Alastair J. Durie, 'The Scottish Linen Industry 1707-1775 with Particular Reference to the Early History of the British Linen Company' (PhD Thesis, University of Edinburgh, 1972)
  • Alastair J. Durie (ed.), The British Linen Company 1745-1775 (Scottish History Society, Fifth Series, Volume 9, Edinburgh, 1996)
  • Alastair J. Durie, 'Saltoun Bleachfield, 1746 - 1773', Transactions of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists' Society, xv (1976) 49-74
  • Charles A. Malcolm, The History of the British Linen Bank, 1746-1946 (Edinburgh, 1950)

Corporate Names