The History Spot
Visit to DALGARVEN MILL MUSEUM of Ayrshire Country Life and Costume
A group of Renfrewshire Local History Forum members visited Dalgarven Mill Museum on Saturday, 20th May, 2017. We gathered in the coffee room, where we met Mr Rob Ferguson, who took us on a conducted tour of the museum. The Ferguson family have owned the mill since 1922 when it was still a working grain mill. Mr Ferguson and the Charitable Trust he set up have transformed the old mill into what must undoubtedly be among the very best of country life museums in Scotland.
The historic mill building has been beautifully restored and the large waterwheel, on a lade fed by the nearby River Garnock, works the machinery in the mill. All the machinery required to run a grain mill, a large collection of farm implements, old kitchen and dairy utensils, trade tools and many more country life artefacts are housed on three floors of the museum.
On the ground floor we visited the current exhibition of Early Victorian Costume, 1810-1865, entitled “Corsets and Crinolines”. This excellent display is only a small part of the museum’s extensive collection of costumes. As we explored the upper floors of the museum our group was most impressed by the extensive collection of farm equipment and country life artefacts. Much of the collection has been donated to the museum by local farmers and other residents. A number of displays show typical period dwelling rooms. The sets are so skilfully designed that the characters seem alive and the viewer almost has a sense of being a welcome visitor within the characters’ home.
As well as a tour of the museum, our group was privileged to have access to the storeroom which houses the museum’s extensive collection of period costumes, and some other very exciting items which, as yet, are not on display.
After our tour we retired to Miller’s Kitchen Coffee Room to sample its excellent menu. This was a fitting end to one of the Forum’s most interesting and enjoyable outings.
© 2017 Helen Calcluth, Renfrewshire Local History Forum
Images with kind permission of R. Ferguson, Dalgarven Mill Museum of Ayrshire Country Life and Costume
Further information and images can be found at www.dalgarvenmill.org.uk