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Catrine

The village of Catrine is a unique community. Originally designed in the late 18th century, to provide homes for the hundreds of workers who daily toiled in the incredible five-storey technological marvel that was known simply as ‘The Mill’, the village is a valuable example of an early ‘planned’ industrial community. The result of a collaboration between Claude Alexander, retired paymaster for the East India Company and Scottish venture capitalist and innovator David Dale, the village of Catrine and its huge cotton mill were at the cutting edge of early industrialisation. One of the first of it’s kind, it not only provided homes for the destitute that Alexander recruited throughout the West of Scotland; with great foresight, Dale and Alexander built into their plan everything that a community would need to thrive and prosper. Shops, schools, a church, a brewery and later even a village hall for recreation and community gatherings were provided.

Much of the original structure of the village has been lost to what, at the time of the destruction, was seen as ‘progress’ but what has not been lost is the amazing and ingenious water management system which enabled water from the fast-flowing River Ayr to be diverted and channelled, via a tunnel bored right through the hillside, to power the waterwheels which drove the mighty Mill itself. This system has been saved by the action of the village and Catrine Community Trust and will now be preserved, along with the water turbines which replaced the wheels in the 1950s, and hopefully fully restored for future generations to admire and wonder at.

Over the centuries, like many so called ‘post industrial’ communities, the village has suffered sabotage, deliberate economic blows and unnecessary deprivation and yet has evolved into an amazingly resilient and dynamic social engine whose people have taken everything late-stage global capitalism and economic hardship could throw at them and have yet survived and pushed back. Its story and the individual stories of its folk have the makings of good drama. They are tales that should be told. This website and the other projects, art, photography, film and story-telling which accompany it are the village’s attempt to do that.

Once again… Welcome to Catrine!