A waulk mill, powered by water from the Balloch Burn, was used in the cloth making process in Creetown. Weaving was a cottage industry before the industrial revolution and many waulk mills were built in the countryside.
Waulking, or fulling, is a process of making cloth thick and felted by a process of soaking beating and shrinking. Cloth straight from the mill was too greasy and loose to use and had to be washed and pounded by water driven hammers to make it suitable for suits (replacing the previous means of washing with soap / urine and beating by hand).
After pounding and rinsing the cloths were stretched on racks of horizontal oak bars to dry. Both rails were studded with tenterhooks, L-shaped nails that hooked into the cloth to keep it stretched – hence the popular expression ‘to be on tenterhooks’. There is also a reference to this building having been used as the dye house.
Early mechanised waulk mills often became the nuclei of later woollen factories, and although the mill in Balloch Wood was abandoned by the 1850’s the mill west of the wood was converted from a cotton mill to a woollen carpet factory.