Gunpowder production first came to Midlothian in 1794 when William Hitchener and John Hunter founded Stobsmills on the Gore Water at Gorebridge.
The third partner, John Merricks, who was the Powder Maker, left Stobsmills in 1802 to start his own mills in Roslin Glen. He built a weir on the river to create a head of water to power the machinery and was granted a licence to produce and store gunpowder.
As well as producing powder for sporting and military use, the Industrial Revolution was in progress, roads, canals and later railways were being built, quarrying and coal mining industries were growing, so there was a real need for explosives in Scotland. Roslin Glen was ideally sited on the River North Esk in a deep, steep wooded valley with no great areas of population nearby, close to supplies of wood and coal, and to the ports on the Forth. With a financial partner, Hay & Merricks were in business.
Over the next 150 years, the mills continued to produce gunpowder.
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