Beautiful cottage extension

T J Ross (Joiners) Ltd and their sister construction company MMR Ltd were given the following brief from their clients’…

“Now that our children have flown the nest, we want to make some alterations to our large cottage in East Fife to ensure it better suited to our new more relaxed lifestyle.  These alterations include a new porch to the front of the house, a conservatory with “lots of glass” at the back of the house plus a few other internal modifications.”

T J Ross – ideas factory!

Given the location, age of the property and mindful of the need to lessen the impact of any extension, Martin suggested a large substantial porch with a slate finished roof and timber lined external walls, as this would ensure that it blended in with the current look of the cottage (see initial rough sketches below),

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and act like a zone between the inside and the outside. Not only would this look better, this design would mean that it would be big enough to have an internal seat and storage space under the seat.  Here is the new porch.


How about a Garden Room…?

Whilst discussing the conservatory, the couple and Martin took a stroll around their beautiful back garden. Given the age of their property (circa late 1800’s), Martin again felt that a more substantial looking Garden Room with a slated/tiled roof and wide bi-fold doors and shaped screen over, would fulfil the requirement for ‘plenty of glass’, and be much more in-keeping with the look and feel of the property (see initial rough sketches below) better than a conservatory.


Creating a full width opening through the existing stone wall would allow the existing kitchen to blend into the new Garden Room – without it being an obvious extension.

This type of open plan extension would keep levels close to each other, allowing decking to be used as the transformation medium.  This means that the garden would ‘flow’ into the house as well as the house flow out into the garden. Martin also suggested that if they chose a more ‘substantial’ extension they could also add a wood burning stove into this area thus creating a lovely space to enjoy a lazy afternoon reading a book during the cold and frosty weather, as well as bringing the garden into the house during the summer.  Needless to say the clients are very happy!





Shortly after my Company bought T J Ross (Joiners) Ltd, I discovered the original purpose for our building at Eastbank Works – it had been built to produce linen. The large and wide green, in the middle of the village, which is spilt into two large grassed areas by the river Eden, was used for the bleaching of the linen produced in the Eastbank Works plus another linen mill at the opposite end of the village on the continuation of Cash Feus, called Skene St. Between them, the two mills employed between 100 and 150 people.




Tom Ross (the previous owner), recalled the days when he was an apprentice joiner and the firm he worked for was frequently employed by the mill to carry out joinery work. In his youth he remembers the staircase that provided access from the ‘north light’ section of the building to the offices above the loom shop in the full two storey part of the building (west side).

After it was closed as an active linen mill, it apparently experienced a rather chequered career, used for storage of potatoes. Then in the early 80’s it was used to produce boards of polystyrene from loose polystyrene beads.   Apparently the scourge of the neighbouring houses when there was a wind!

In the mid/late ’80’s Tom Ross was encouraged by the then, North East Fife Council, to consider moving his growing joiner shop from Auchtermuchty to his home town of Strathmiglo and after negotiations T J Ross Joiners moved to their new and current home at Eastbank Works, Cash Feus, Strathmiglo.

In 1999/2000 under my Management, we extended the workshop facilities behind the original stone buildings and constructed the cottage/office to the front.

Whilst building the extension to our premises we exposed the old foundations to the full extent of the ‘north Light’ building, which was a comfort to the Planning Department.  More importantly we also found large areas of the original stone used as upfill. Delighted by this find – we carefully excavated and carted this stone to the front before dressing and preparing it in order to use it to construct our new offices and showroom.


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During the construction of the extension to the workshop we also unearthed large, concrete, shallow pools, which we understand were the cooling pools for the water used as a coolant for the looms within the mill. This explains (for those that live in Cash Feus) why there is a lade along the south boundary of the south facing properties of Cash Feus – as this would have been used to act as a natural top up to the coolant.

On careful inspection to the south west corner of the two storey part of the building, you can see an area of disturbed/built up stonework, where the coolant/water was channelled into the looms within the lower part of that building.

We also uncovered a very large oil/grease stained stone base which, we understand, was the base to the generator which was fuelled from a coal fired furnace. The large chimney in the background was for the boiler to that generator.


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Out of the two mills in Strathmiglo, Eastbank Works was the one that invested in the installation of a generator and the manager’s cottages close to the works had electricity cabled to them from the mills’ generator.  So when the National Grid arrived in Strathmilgo, the story goes that a sub station was sited on the boundary of our site and the original cables to the manager’s cottages were cut and ‘plugged into the national grid available at the new sub station’.

We hope that you agree that our site has a very interesting history to it. As you are aware nowadays the workshop is where we (T J Ross) manufacture high quality timber products such as windows, doors, cabinets and bespoke bookcases. Please feel free to ask for a walk around the workshop if you come to see our showroom or pop in for a friendly chat about wooden windows and doors, we would be delighted to see you.