ON MONDAY, August 23, 1858, a fire broke out at Devonside.

At the time both Tillicoultry and Devonside were quiet, but the cry of 'fire' soon put paid to sleep.

No sooner were the shouts heard than the fire brigade and hundreds of people made their way to the site of the outbreak.

Between one and two o'clock that morning, the mill sublet by Mr Wallace, a manufacturer, to Messers J Dick & Co, shawl manufacturers, and J W Cree & Co, wool merchants, was seen by the foreman of the Vicar's mill, with flames shooting out from the spinning department of Wallace's mill.

The foreman, along with Daniel Cameron and William Little had been going to clean out the boiler, then were supposed to fire the engine.

A bright reflection was noticed on the end of Vicar's mill and immediately afterwards, the foreman saw the third floor in the old mill, or west mill, was ablaze.

The proprietors were woken and told of the incident and were on the scene quickly.

The fire brigade, which took an hour to arrive, directed their jets of water on the mill, but it was fruitless and once they realised this, they concentrated their efforts on the adjoining mills.

As it was raining, the weather helped.

The sky was illuminated all round and even made the nearby houses look like they were 'standing in the midday sun,' and not the early hours of the morning when it was normally dark. The building collapsed in segments with loud crashes each time, and in less than an hour, nothing was left except for blackened walls.

Luckily, Wallace had the business insured but nearby Graham & Co had failed to pay their premium and suffered huge losses.

The fire appeared to have originated in the upper roof of the building where a quantity of waste wool was stored, and it was thought it had spontaneously combusted.

The foreman later stated that if someone had been around at the time, the fire may have been contained.

He had run to Wallace's house while Cameron and Little went to fetch the fire brigade

Mr Wallace, Mr Cree's agent, and Mr Archibald of Devonvale were first on the scene with Archibald gaining high praise for his actions during the blaze, and afterwards.

Around a hundred workers were affected, losing their jobs, and two mills were reduced to a pile of rubble.

Carding and spinning machines were also lost in the blaze.