1700s – Lost Buildings and Lost Stories

The street was called Collier Row until 1833. Reading the Annals of the Burgh provides all sorts of interesting snippets, although it is recommended to read with one foot in the 1700s, as the language is sometimes arcane:

Excerpt from Annals of Dunfermline "They appoint that on every friday (being the ordinary Weekly Mercate day of this burgh), betwixt Nine and Eleven of the Clock forenoon, There shall be a public Mercate for selling anf buying yarn at the Tron (Twon House).
Yarn Market
Excerpt from Annals of Dunfermline

Translation: Every Friday 9am-11am there’s a market to buy and sell yarn at the Tron (where weights and measures are verified).

It fascinates and stimulates the imagination and makes you want to travel back in time to solve the puzzles.

For example, in 1783 they report Mr Dickie set up an indigo mill – the first in Dunfermline. The wheel was operated by a large dog, “…it caused a deal of talk far and near, and many a one came to see it.”

Can you picture your dog in a giant wheel to turn a mechanism to grind the indigo? What sort of dog did Mr Dickie have? What did the apparatus look like? Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Turnspit dog in an Inn. Henry Wigstead / Public domain

The use of small dogs at Inns is better known. ‘Turnspit dogs’ were bred to run in a wheel which would slowly turn a spit with an animal roasting over the open fire. You can see a video when they tested the method using a modern dog on it below.


The dye community resided on the west side of the street to access the Tower Burn in the glen behind. This stone found on the steps between Bruce Street to the car park reminds us the mill lade ran through Collier Row from the Mill.

Grey stone with carving saying, A small stream is conducted through the streets in a flagged channel, 1772
Flagged Channel Stone
Detail of commemoration stone found on steps from Bruce Street to Glen Bridge Car Park

Interestingly, the Sun Fire Insurance archive shows that in 1792, James Mooddee, Thomas Hunt and Robert Hutton, manufacturers on the west side of Collier Row, took out their own fire insurance.