The renewable carpet factory

What do bleach, carpet, and wind have in common? The Roslin Glen! OK, it’s a bit of a corny opening line, but I get a little tired of starting posts with “Today/Yesterday I…”

That said, yesterday I walked to the Roslin Glen where I explored around the old Carpet Factory, which is what the site is referred to now despite the factory closing in 1968. However, I didn’t know I was going to explore the site until I found myself standing at the entrance.

You see, yesterday was a struggle, if I am honest. I started with a positive outlook, repairing the trousers that I’d torn on my walk the week prior with the view of heading out for an energetic walk when I finished. But at some point, I became sad and, well, unexcited about going for a walk. I don’t know how it happened, but something in my thoughts as I stitched patches on the trousers must have triggered a mood change*.

As I mentioned the other day, the past year has been a bit more of a “widow struggle” than in recent years because I am much more aware of my solitude and isolation. And whilst I know that, from the outside, it must look like I am happily living a solo life and that I am confident and excited about my solo adventures, I am not (always) happy. Oh, sure, most of the time I do feel confident(ish) and excited(ish) about my adventures. But sometimes, I struggle to get out of the house for yet another lonely day.

And today was one of those days! But eventually, I forced myself out for a walk. I didn’t know where I would go or how long I would walk, but I knew that I needed to get outside into the fresh air or I would risk this momentary sadness turning into full-on self-pity.

I didn’t know how far I would feel like walking, so I started with a little jaunt towards a nearby wood that would have meant about a 3-mile walk. But as I began to feel a little less “meh”, I decided to extend the walk a bit to skirt past a section of the Roslin Glen. From there, I decided I had enough joy in my soul to carry on a little further. That then took me to the old Carpet Factory where I took the opportunity to explore the disused buildings and the “clutter” around the site.

The old Carpet Factory

The Carpet Factory sits in the Roslin Glen, not far from the Gunpowder Mills that I’ve visited countless times over the years. The buildings stand on the site of the old bleaching works that began in 1719, and many of the linens worn by Queen Victoria were bleached there. Then, in 1868 Henry Widnell & Co took over the site for a carpet factory that operated on the site for 100 years, closing in 1968. (Although the company operated in Midlothian for about 150 years from 1833 to 1982.)

The factory did more than create wall-to-wall carpets that we think of today (although they did that in later years). Instead, they produced vibrant woven tapestries that were exported around the world. But as the world changed, so did their products and their methods of production. Until, eventually, they went from employing 700-800 people to ending their Midlothian era.

As a nod to the ever-changing industry found in the Roslin Glen over the centuries, the site was most recently used by a renewable devices company that makes sustainable wind energy turbines. However, the building lacked any evidence of recent use and the company’s website and social media profiles are outdated, so I don’t know if they are currently trading, manufacturing, or designing. If it is the case that the building has been abandoned once again, I hope that it’s not too long before a new industry takes up the site to continue the Roslin Glen’s long history of industry!

In the meantime, and whether there are operations in the building or not, the factory site makes up part of the Roslin Glen Country Park where people can enjoy woodland walks along the river that helped to forge Midlothian’s industrial past. But today, nature is taking back the land which has become a haven for a range of plants and wildlife – and a peaceful escape for humans looking to breathe in the fresh air that nature provides.

Anyhow, when I arrived at the factory site, I sat there reflecting over the ever-evolving site. And then I found myself smiling as I knew that my mood had returned to my normal happy and curious self. And so, I had to explore around the buildings a bit – something I’ve never done before, despite walking past them countless times.

It seems a little silly to say that I am “proud” of myself for going out to play. But I am happy that I decided to get some fresh air. In fact, I managed 3+ hours’ worth of fresh air and an 8.5-mile walk. Yes, it was a successfully happy day!

* This isn’t fully relevant to the story, but as my blog serves as a personal diary that I can reflect on later, I need to note these things. That way, I can be reminded that momentary sadness is just that: momentary.

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