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  • ID: I379
  • Name: William Baillie TORRANCE
  • Given Name: William Baillie
  • Surname: Torrance
  • Suffix: -Grain Merchant
  • Title: -Grain Merchant
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 18 JUL 1862 in New Saughton Cottages,Corstorphine (Midlothian) Scotland
  • Christening: 4 SEP 1862 [Baptised at 7 weeks by David Horne,Minister of Corstorphine]
  • Death: 20 MAR 1936 in Portobello (Midlothian) Scotland
  • Occupation: Manager of Catcune Grain Mill Fushiebridge,Midlothian
  • Note:
    From Notes by his grand-daughter:
    "Now I must just write a little about William Baillie Torrance, my maternal grandfather. He was born in a cottage in Corstorphine in 1860, the youngest child of Henry Torrance and Jane Baillie. His father was a ploughman. The family must have moved with the work to a series of tied cottages. It was said that Willie was educated at Carrington School. There certainly was a family connection with that village. As I've already written, he was apprenticed early to the grain trade and at that time met Dick White, a fellow apprentice who came from Markinch in Fife, where I believe his mother lived to be a hundred. 'Uncle' Dick, who became a grocer in Pathhead, lived almost as long. When he was riding about with his pony and trap round the Lothians, Willie met some odd characters, known at the time, the 1880's, in the locality. One was called spring-heeled Jack and I've forgotten the name of the other one. I believe one or other would loup out at you from the hedgerow, as you trotted round a bend. William Torrance was a commercial traveller when he met Tina Cusiter. Later he was part-owner of Catcune Mill at Fushiebridge. Grandma Cusiter had an investment in it. I've seen a record of this.
    "When my father, Bertie Cavaye went to work as a clerk in one of the big grain firms in Leith, before he joined up in 1916, Pa Torrance was known to be in the building and Bertie's boss said to him, 'You don't want to pay any attention to what he says. That's leein' Wullie.'
    "He was a gambler in the widest sense as well. In spite of his 'faults' or maybe because of them, Willie did well, with a bit of help from his wife's relations. He always lived up to and later beyond his income and gave his daughters everything they could desire. There was talk at one time of having them presented at court. A local lady of standing offered to chaperon them. Roma kept repeating in her latter years, 'He was a really good father to us.'
    "When the crunch came with the depression of the late twenties, it was Roma who tried to sort out the difficulties at the mill. She loved business and was well able to drive her father around Midlothian, talking to customers and collecting debts. When things got bad, Willie retreated into his shell. Roma put her savings into the kitty and took on the mortgage, when they gave up Mount Lodge and bought Ivy Neuk, 9, Rosefield Place in her name. She did all she could to save the dregs of what had been a first class business, but she had been allowed into the picture too late, when things were beyond recovery. Her father gave up and retired about 1931. Roma continued for a year or so to work for his successor.
    "Then Buckie Torrance began to go senile. He was a disappointed man, who sat in his corner at Rosefield, smoking his pipe. Roma, having given up her job, was bearing the burden of him day and night. She felt let down by her sisters, who seemed unwilling or unable to help. Bertie Cavaye used to come down once or twice a week and so did Charlie Gerrard, to enable Roma to have an evening out away from the strain. As my father always said, 'The Torrances can't stand strain.'
    " William Torrance's last year was a succession of card games, cronies coming to the house and obligatory wee nips. Once, they said, he went out in the street in his pyjamas. He died in 1934 and his pocket watch was hanging on the end of his bed, waiting for Bill to inherit it. Mona always said Bill was very like him."

    1881 Dwelling: Croft St., Dalkeith, Edinburgh, Scotland GRO Vol 683 EnumDist 2 Page 21
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Marr Age Sex Birthplace
    Francis GORDON . .M 54 . . M .Prestonpans, Haddington, Scotland -Rel: Head -Occ: Tailor
    Elizabeth GORDON . M 60 . . F . Crichton, Edinburgh, Scotland -Rel: Wife
    William TORRANCE .U 17 . . M . Cranston, Edinburgh, Scotland -Rel: Boarder Occ: Grocer
    [Aunt Helen TORRANCE was a grocer in nearby Cranston, q.v.]

    Commercial Traveller, later Managing Director of Pendreigh's Corn Mill at Fushiebridge. At marriage in April 1889, address given as Bellsmains,Gorebridge. At this time, Bellsmains was probably in the ownership of Pendreigh's Mill, and available for their employees. The connection of William Baillie TORRANCE and his wife Christina Clapperton CUSITER is an intriguing echo of the fact that in 1810, before their grandparents were born, two people of perhaps related families lived here. Alexander CLAPPERTON, a carter at Catcune Mill, and his wife Euphemia BAILLIE had a daughter on 18 April, baptised Euphemia by the Rev M. Brown, Minister of the Burghers congregation, Dalkeith. Witnesses James Bennet Junior and James Newbarns. [Tina CUSITER's grandmother was a CLAPPERTON and Willie TORRANCE's mother was a BAILLIE]

    Bellsmains is where the TORRANCE household lived at the Census two years later.
    1891 census. County: Midlothian. Parish: Borthwick (674 Book 2 page 11):
    Outside the village of Fushiebridge at Bellsmains we find:
    William B TORRANCE, 28, born Corstorphine, Commercial traveller
    his wife Christina TORRANCE, 26, born Dalkeith
    their daughter Christina TORRANCE, 1, born Borthwick (the future Mona GERRARD)
    and Mary LAMB, 16, born Lauder, domestic servant.

    [1839: Bell's Mains, a collection of moss-covered cottages, which stand near the highway, and at that particular part where the old avenue to the grounds of Arniston formerly opened]

    Later the family moved to nearby Catcune Farm. daughter Norah attended Middleton School while the much-older Mona travelled by train to Edinburgh Ladies College. At Fushiebridge, William had a hand in the inception of the Golf Course close to the mill. Later still, the family moved to Mount Lodge, Portobello, on the railway route between the Catcune Grain Mill and the Leith grain exchange, where William earned the nickname "Leein' Willie".

    At first a commercial traveller for James Pendreigh's mill at Catcune, Fushiebridge (there had been a mill on the site since 1364), William B Torrance became increasingly involved in buying and selling on behalf of the firm and soon became mill managing director as the Pendreigh family stepped back from active involvement. In September 1902 a joint-stock company was formed -James Pendreigh & Son (Limited) to acquire the business of James Pendreigh & Son, grain millers and corn merchants, Catcune Mills, Gorebridge, MidLothian, and to carry on the business of Grain millers and flour, meal and corn merchants, with a capital of 25,000. There was no invitation to the public to subscribe, the shares being taken up by George Pendreigh, miller, Upper Dalhousie, Cockpen; Mrs Pendreigh, Upper Dalhousie, Cockpen; David R. Hamilton, grain merchant, 35 Lomond Road, Trinity, Edinburgh; Mrs Hamilton, 35 Lomond Road Trinity; W.B. Torrance, commercial traveller, Catcune Farm House, Gorebridge; Mary Cusiter, widow, Grace Mount, Bonnyrigg. Here is how the mill had been managed twenty years earlier:
    1881: Catcune House, Borthwick, Edinburgh, Scotland
    Name Married Age Sex Birthplace
    James PENDREIGH M 54 M Borthwick, Edinburgh, Scotland Rel:Head Occ:Master Miller & Farmer of 290 Acres Arable Employing 61 Men 2 Boys And 4 Women
    Mary PENDREIGH M 47 F Heriot, Edinburgh, Scotland Rel:Wife Occ:Master Millers Wife
    George PENDREIGH U 23 M Borthwick, Edinburgh, Scotland Rel: Son Occ: Farmer
    Mary Jane PENDREIGH 17 F Borthwick, Edinburgh, Scotland Rel: Daur
    Agnes PENDREIGH 9 F Borthwick, Edinburgh, Scotland Rel:Daur Occ:Scholar
    Euphemia GILLIES 19 F Borthwick, Edinburgh, Scotland Rel:Serv Occ:Domestic Ser
    and meanwhile near Glasgow:
    1881: Roslin Villa Pollok Rd., Eastwood, Renfrew, Scotland
    David R. HAMILTON M 30 M Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland Rel:Head Occ:Grain Merchant
    Mary HAMILTON M 24 F Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland Rel:Wife
    Joan HAMILTON 8 m F Eastwood, Renfrew, Scotland Rel:Dau
    Ann Mc L. BARR U 17 F Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland Rel:Servant Occ:Domestic

    The Catcune/Fushiebridge area is evoked in the words of Trooper James B. WICKHAM of the 1st Lothians & Border Horse, in a letter to his mother from France in 1916, memorably conjuring up the homeward journey to this part of Midlothian, and the train flashing through Fushiebridge on the Waverley line to Edinburgh... "...there still remains an exquisite feeling too deep for words when an exile is north of the Cheviots. Up the Liddel and right through the heart of the Southern Uplands is at all times a region of matchless beauty, but to the Scot, with the mud of Flanders still on his boots, and the flat, watery, cheerless plains in his memory, the beauty is trebled. But the moment comes when in the grey morning the engine labours as she ascends the Gala Water. Every aspect is known, every bend anticipated. Trivial incidents in childhood years are remembered and magnified. There is a hill over which a tramp seemed hard work, and here a tyre puncture made the road a heartless tyrant. But the hill and the road are now mutely sympathetic. The train is over, and the pull becomes a glide, and you know, without looking, that the Fala Hill is surmounted. Objects become still more familiar and dearer. You are going far too fast now. Would the train slacken speed that the enjoyment be prolongued! Down in the valley is Borthwick Castle, and, round about, the home of kinsfolk. Then follow the Golf Course, where so many happy days were spent and unappreciated, and then the Mill, where everystick and stone on the winding road are known. One wants to grasp the unoffending person in the corner and say to him; "That's 'our' mill, 'Our' village," and a world of 'ours', which up to the present have seemed nothing out of the ordinary. And now in a short hour, which you know will seem endless, you will be home. The word used thoughtlessly before has now a wealth of meaning, indescribable, unfathomable, unlimited. And now that home is about to take a tangible form after all those weary months, there descends a peace of mind which in this common case is the most perfect ever experienced." [reprinted in Gorebridge Yesterdays, 1986]

    Also from Gorebridge Yesterdays [1998] are these notes on Catcune Mill just after William Baillie Torrance's time, by Bill Stirling:
    "My introduction to Catcune Mills was as a young apprentice miller. That would be in 1930. Then, you served a four year apprenticeship. The mill was still owned and run by James Pendreigh & Son at that time. Although, in the early 1920s, the mill was probably past its heyday, it was still a good going concern and provided employment for quite a few people. I think there were about twenty employed at that time, producing goodquality products. The main products were barley, oatmeal, split pease and brosemeal, so a fair variety of machines were required to produce the finished article. There were six barley mills. To keep these running it needed around 50 tons of rough barley per week. The oatmeal required 30 tons of oats. Split pease and brosemeal between them used 20-25 tons of pease. Quite a lot of handling of raw grain, as you can imagine. There were times when storage was a real problem. Local farmers supplied a fair amount of grain, mainly oats, and a lot of it was brought to the mill on their own carts. The carter (usually the ploughman) used to get tuppence a cartload for delivering the oats. Most of the carts were unloaded at the front of the mill by chain hoist; the one we had was a double block - one up, one down. Some great scenes were witnessed when the carter tried to hang the chain around the neck of the sacks. Very often they managed to include their jacket tails or their thumbs! That caused great glee to us laddies at the top of the house, but the poor carter was often very distressed. Happy days! Barley and pease were usually unloaded either at the store or the granary and it was always a job carrying the sack on one's back. That, of course, was local grain. The bulk of the barley and pease in those days was imported from the Danube basin, Canada and Australia. Pease were mostly from the Balkans and Russia; Danzig and Konigsberg being the main ports of supply. It all came into Leith and was mostly delivered to Fushie Station by rail, I have seen about 50 waggons at a time at Fushie. It was all possible hands to unload, as all available 'lies" were full. We used to like a lot of waggons at the granary as we got overtime at night emptying some. We got a shilling a waggon and usually emptied four between six and nine o'clock at night - a good boost to the wages in those days. Rail was also used quite a lot for transport of the finished products. We used to deliver to places like Newcastle, Liverpool, London and, of course, Glasgow. Glasgow was one of the main centres for our products. The firm maintained a store in Glasgow. Hood's Store it was called, and meal, barley and pease were all distributed to customers from there. Sea was another form of transport used quite a lot then. A shipping firm called Coast Lines would deliver goods to various ports around the coast, Dundee, Aberdeen and even London in those days. The firm also did a fair trade in Northern Ireland. That was put on the Belfast and Londonderry boats at Glasgow. As well as the cereals already mentioned, Catcune Mill dealt a lot in flour. 'Kingsown" was the main brand name and was supplied by the Riverside Milling Co., Glasgow. Pendreigh also had their brand called "Cockpen", this name was used by A & W Douglas in later years with great success. There was also a good trade in "strong" bread flour which was imported direct from Canada; the brand name was "Winnipeg". A word here now about the machinery needed to produce the finished produce. The mill had eight pairs of mill stones, three used in the production of oatmeal, one used for split pease, one used for brosemeal and three used for general grinding. Also we had six barley mills. There were three kilns for drying oats, barley and pease, a girdle for roasting pease for brose and milling machines used in the milling process; ie. sieves, fans, elevators, grain conveyors, an oat-bruising machine and a large drum for polishing split pease. The power supply for all the machines was provided mainly by a twin cylinder gas engine, capable of supplying around 300 H.P. There was also the water wheel which could run to about 25-30 H.P. Here is a list of some of the jobs essential for the smooth ninning of the mill:- The Engine Man looked after and maintained the gas plant and engine. There was a Barley Miller, a Corn Miller and a Split Pea Miller as well as a Kilnsman or "Dryster" and a host of other men doing jobs such as loading lorries, milling animal feed, etc and a stone dresser. It was a sad day when Jaines Pendreigh & Sons closed for the last time in 1934. Quite a few jobs were lost to the area, never to retum. The mill was taken over first by a firm of grain merchants, W. N. Lindsay of Leith. They did not keep it very long and it was then acquired by A. & W. Douglas of Dalkeith, At the time of the closure, there was a James Pendreigh, director of the firm. He was mainly a farmer and farmed places such as Mount Lothian, the Dewar, Garvald and, in later years, Sheriffhall. He would be the last James Pendreigh. When A. & W. Douglas acquired the mill in 1937 there was very little done with it for a few years. They decided to scrap our beautiful gas engine, and replace it with an oil one. This was done but the power output was greatly reduced, a factor they were soon to discover. Only about half the mill could be run....The old mill was gradually disappearing."

    No doubt the "beautiful gas engine" was a design selected by Willie Torrance's YOUNG in-laws, Uncle Willie Young being the likely adviser. Gas engines probably modified to his designs seem to have been produced by Milnes at Milton House Works in the Edinburgh Canongate. Willie Torrance was later to become one of Uncle Willie Young's executors.

    1936 WILLS: TORRANCE William Baillie, Grain Merchant, sometime of Mount Lodge, Portobello, latterly of Rosefield Place, Portobello. Died 20 March 1936 at Portobello, testate, conirmation EDINBURGH 24 April 1936 to Macgregor Cusiter TORRANCE, 9 Rosefield Place, Portobello, executor. Will dated 2 Sept 1923 recorded EDINBURGH 23/4/36: Value of estate 883.13s.4d [SC.70/1/952. Inventory & Will.
  • Change Date: 27 NOV 2006 at 01:55:37

    Father: Henry TORRANCE b: 1824 in Stow Parish (Midlothian) Scotland c: 5 SEP 1824 in Stow Parish (Midlothian) Scotland
    Mother: Jane BAILLIE b: ABT 1821 in Borthwick or Crichton,Midlothian

    Marriage 1 Christina Clapperton CUSITER b: 30 DEC 1863 in Dalkeith,Midlothian,Scotland
    • Married: 2 APR 1889 in By Borthwick Minister at Gracemount Bonnyrigg,Lasswade,after Banns at Borthwick Church.
    1. Has Children Christina Mary Cusiter "Mona" TORRANCE b: 22 DEC 1889 in Gorebridge (Midlothian) Scotland,in Annie S Swan's house
    2. Has Children Norah Jane Baillie TORRANCE b: 25 NOV 1897 in Catcune,Gorebridge (Midlothian) Scotland
    3. Has No Children MacGregor Cusiter "Roma" TORRANCE b: 25 FEB 1901 in Catcune,Gorebridge (Midlothian) Scotland

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