From Wikishire
Jump to: navigation, search
Penicuik town centre. - - 10318.jpg
Grid reference: NT235598
Location: 55°49’33"N, 3°13’14"W
Population: 18,000
Post town: Penicuik
Postcode: EH26
Dialling code: 01968
Local Government
Council: Midlothian

Penicuik is a burgh in Midlothian, lying on the west bank of the River North Esk. The town was developed as a planned village in 1770 by Sir James Clerk of Penicuik and it became a burgh in 1867. The town was well known for its paper mills, the last of which closed in 2005. More recently the town was home to the Edinburgh Crystal works.

The town's name is pronounced 'Pennycook' and is derived from the British or Old Welsh language Pen Y Cog, meaning "Hill of the Cuckoo".[1]

Near Penicuik is the Glencorse Parish Kirk, which formed part of the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped (1886). Some of the streets nearby are named after characters in the novel and its sequel, Catriona (1893).

Penicuik is home to the Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, garrisoned in Glencorse Barracks.



A hamlet stood here from at least the 17th century. The ruined old parish church, in the centre of the graveyard, dates from the late 17th century.

The site of Penicuik was home to the paper mill established by Agnes Campbell in 1709. A monument in the churchyard reads "1737, Annabel Millar spouse to Thomas Rutherford Papermaker at Pennycuik".

Around 1770, the arrival of the Cowan family, and their expansion of the paper mill, led to the need for homes for their workers. The hamlet of Penicuik was expanded as a planned town (roughly based on Edinburgh's New Town) by Sir James Clerk of Penicuik, the builder of nearby Penicuik House, and by 1800 the population had risen to 1,700.

Penicuik was the site of a prison camp for French prisoners during the Napoleonic Wars (housed in the old range at Valleyfield Mill). The former camp is now the site of a housing development in Valleyfield. A monument dated 1830 by the River Esk commemorates "the mortal remains of 309 prisoners of war who died 1811-14". It was erected by Alexander Cowan owner of the paper mill, whose house overlooked the burial site.

Carnethy Hill

Penicuik hosted the inaugural Grand Match in curling, between the north and the south of Scotland, in 1847. The town became a burgh in 1867

In the oldest part of Penicuik, surrounding the town centre and to the south of the old prisoner of war camp, crossing the river Esk is Pomathorn Bridge which was once a toll bridge and the main route between Edinburgh to the north and the lands of the Tweed to the south. As such Penicuik has a number of ancient travellers' Inns, including The Crown, and the Royal. Because of their location on such a busy route, both these pubs advertise the patronage of many characters from 18th Century history, allegedly (but unlikely) including visits from Burke and Hare and even Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Paper mills

Paper-making was started here by Mrs Agnes Campbell in 1709. The mill was subsequently bought by Charles Cowan, originally a grocer in Leith, who established the Cowan Valleyfield Mills. In 1796, Charles Cowan brought in his son Alexander Cowan to manage the mill. An adjacent corn mill was purchased in 1803 which became known as Bank Mill after he converted it to produce the paper on which banknotes were printed. Paper was also produced at Eskmill, which site has recently been built over with private housing.

The Dalmore paper mill on the Esk near Auchendinny closed in 2005.

Outside links


  1. Robinson, Mairi, ed (1999). "Some common elements of placenames". Chambers 21st Century Dictionary. Edinburgh, Scotland: Harrap. p. 1059. ISBN 9780550142504.