From Pulp to Print: Records of the Papermaking Industry
Photos from the Tweedie Photograph Collection, courtesy Heriot-Watt University, Records Management and Museum Service. For permission to reproduce please contact Ann Jones, University Archivist.
Papermaking was established in Britain in the late fifteenth century. This month we highlight descriptions for the records of mill owners and mill workers, paper merchants, printers and publishers. There are also links to selected websites and a brief bibliography.
Our illustrations are from the Tweedie Photograph Collection, part of the local history collection of John Tweedie. John Tweedie had worked in Kinleith Mill in Currie, which is now a suburb of Edinburgh, and was particularly interested in the history of the mills along the Water of Leith as well as the history of the area in general. He was a founder member of Currie and District Local History Society.
In 1590 the first paper mill in Scotland opened in Dalry, Edinburgh. Many mills subsequently opened along the Water of Leith because of a plentiful supply of water for power and the papermaking processes, and the requirement of the Edinburgh printing industry. Also, the close proximity of the port in Leith facilitated the import of raw materials and export of the finished produce. The Balerno Branch line opened in 1874 and many mills such as Kinleith Mill in Currie had railway sidings. The raw goods materials came in by rail because of the steep incline to the river. The mills were now automated, using the Fourdrinier or continuous machine which made the paper in one continuous process by squeezing the pulp between rollers. By the mid twentieth century most mills were part of larger conglomerates and there was limited space to expand the businesses because of the close proximity of the river. In 1989 the last mill to close was Inglis Mill. In the communities of Currie, Balerno and Juniper Green the paper mills were big employers with many social activities, including their own football teams.
- Helen Taylor, Archivist, Heriot-Watt University, Records Management and Museum Service.
- Amalgamated Society of Papermakers: founded in 1854 as the United Brotherhood of Papermakers, a 'splinter group' of the Original Society of Papermakers.
- Original Society of Papermakers: founded in 1800 as the trade union for workers in the hand-made paper business.
- Wm. Holland and Co.: agreement between H. Pickle of Cumbria and Wm. Holland and Co., of Liverpool for the assignment to Pickle of the lease of a paper mill, 1853.
- Paper mills: paper-making in the Lothians, Scotland, in the 20th century; part of the John Tweedie Local History Archive.
- National Union of Paper Mill Workers: founded in 1890 for unskilled mill workers, merged with other unions to form the National Society of Operative Printers, Graphical and Media Personnel (Natsopa), in turn merging to form Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (Sogat); as the result of a further series of mergers is now part of Unite, Britain's largest trade union.
- C. Davidson and Sons Ltd: paper manufacturers of Mugiemoss Mills, Aberdeen, established in in 1796.
- Sir David Russell (1872-1956): director of the family firm Tullis Russell and Company Ltd. of Fife.
- John Johnstone: printer and publisher, bookbinder and bookseller, established in Edinburgh as early as 1796.
- Ouglitch Paper Mill Company: paper-making in pre-revolutionary Russia; manuscript notes as part of the collection of the British Gaubert family
- De La Rue Company: paper-makers, designers and printers, established in London in 1821.
- Berner Nicol & Co Ltd, timber, wood pulp, and paper merchants, London
- Scottish Archive of Print and Publishing History Records: the social, economic and cultural history of the Scottish printing and publishing industries in the 20th century (SAPPHIRE)
- Scottish Book Trade Index: an index of printers, publishers, booksellers, bookbinders, printmakers, stationers and papermakers based in Scotland, from the beginnings of Scottish printing to around 1850 (National Library of Scotland)
- Currie and District Local History Society: , their first meeting was held in the home of John Tweedie in 1970.
- Britain in pictures: an advertisement for Tullis Russell and Company Ltd, showing Collins' Britain in Pictures series of books ('shelf appeal' website)
- History of Papermaking in the United Kingdom (British Association of Paper Historians website)
- Heron Corn Mill & Museum of Papermaking: a working mill powered by a waterwheel (Milnthorpe, Cumbria)
- The Paper Trail: industrial 'exploration' centre built around a fully-working paper mill (Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire).
- Recycled Stationery: part of a national database of products made from recycled materials (Recycled Products Guide website of the Waste & Resources Action Programme).
Links are provided to records on Copac for these items. Copac is the free, web based national union catalogue, containing the holdings of many of the major university and National Libraries in UK and Ireland plus a number of special libraries. For more information about accessing items see the FAQs on the Copac website.
- COLEMAN, D. C. The British paper industry 1495-1860. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958). Records on Copac
- HILLS, Richard L. Papermaking in Britain 1488-1988: a short history (London: Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Athlone Press, 1988). Records on Copac
- HUNTER, Dard Papermaking: the history and technique of an ancient craft. Records on Copac
- HUNTER, Dard Papermaking through eighteen centuries. Records on Copac
- SCHMOLLER, Tanya Sheffield papermakers: three centuries of papermaking in the Sheffield area (Wylam: Allenholme Press, 1992). Records on Copac
- SHORTER, Alfred H. Studies on the history of papermaking in Britain (Aldershot: Variorum, 1993). Records on Copac
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