In the early eighteen hundreds Duncan Campbell, son of James Campbell, moved from the Killin area of Breadalbane and settled in the gaelic speaking quarter on the northern edge of the Burgh of Doune in Perthshire. Duncan set up a business in Doune as a drystone dyker and well sinker. He married and in 1860 Duncan’s son Hugh formed a business which embraced the new technology of wire fencing, which his father had introduced to Perthshire. The use of wire fencing grew rapidly replacing the traditional but more labour intensive dyking.
Large tracts of highland Perthshire were fenced in the last 50 years of the nineteenth century by Duncan Campbell, his son Hugh and his sons. The work was hard, the hours long and always associated with the use of working ponies and horses.
It was a natural progression to establish a smithy and then a permanent sawmill for the supply of timber to agriculture and the coal mining industries using the economical advantages of the transportation provided by the railway when it arrived in Doune. A young boy on seeing sight of the first steam train every to pass through Doune ran home to his mother blurting out to her, “the Smithy’s awae wie a row o’hooses a hint it!”
From around 1900 the family business grew as a partnership amongst Duncan’s son Hugh and his sons' James, Hugh and John, pictured with the steam engine. The principal activity for the most of the 20th century was wood cutting and sawmilling. However, the firm also carried out civil engineering contracting work on roads and building bridges for Perth County Council and for local estates. Throughout this period the firm provided employment for many local people, and a first step into employment for many young people.
In the 1970's the business diversified into the imported timber and sheeting business serving the house building industry. This was relatively successful but the sawmill operation was closed by James, whose father Hugh was Duncan Campbell’s great grandson, at the end of 2004. The firm continues in a different but related form as a Civil and Structural Engineering consultancy run by Hugh Campbell - James’ brother.
Computers and software are now the workhorses of the firm; a far cry from the steam engine powered saws and horse drawn vehicles of what seems a long gone era. However, a work force is still the most vital element of a business and today the company is as committed to the health and well being of their people as Duncan Campbell was more than 150 years ago.