Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 14:03 UK

Probe after historic mill blaze

Paton's Mill
The derelict mill dates back to 1782

Building inspectors are assessing fire damage to a historic derelict mill in Renfrewshire ahead of an investigation by Strathclyde Fire and Rescue.

Paton's Mill in Johnstone caught fire on Wednesday afternoon. It took fire crews until 0200 BST to extinguish the blaze.

The building, which dates back to 1782, is believed to be the world's oldest surviving machine factory.

It has been empty since production stopped at the site in 2004.

Renfrewshire Council's building standards officers have visited the site to conduct a health and safety assessment.

A structural engineer has been commissioned to carry out an urgent health and safety assessment which will tell us what further measures need to be carried out by the owner
Councillor Derek Mackay
Renfrewshire Council leader

Officials said there was no risk to neighbouring buildings but people were being advised to stay away from the site.

All roads around the derelict mill are open and operating as normal.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Derek Mackay said: "We are working very closely with the fire service and the police following the fire at Paton's Mill.

"Our officers are on site along with the police to put in place short-term measures to make the building safe and restrict public access.

"A structural engineer has been commissioned to carry out an urgent health and safety assessment which will tell us what further measures need to be carried out by the owner in the long-term to secure the building.

Textile factory

"This assessment will also allow the fire and police to get in to investigate the cause of the fire."

Paton's Mill is the earliest surviving cotton mill in Scotland and one of the earliest in Britain.

It was built on the banks of the Black Cart River by the Corse and Burns Company and was a fully operational textile factory for nearly 220 years continuously.

Most recently it was used for making shoe laces, before Paton's moved its operation to a nearby business park.

The mill is owned by GWM Developments of Belfast.

Planning permission granted in June 2004, to develop the building into flats and office space, has now lapsed.

A delegation from the Prince of Wales Development Network was shortly due to visit as part of a £30,000 feasibility study into regenerating the mill.



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