Papermaking

Orig­i­nal­ly paper was made in Britain from linen and cot­ton rags: old clothes were the main source. The rags had to be sort­ed and shred­ded and were then washed before trans­fer to a water-filled tub, and beat­en into a pulp. The pulp was then dilut­ed with water to the cor­rect con­sis­ten­cy. the sheets of paper were cre­at­ed from the pulp by a ‘vat­man’ who dipped a square mould with a wire-meshed bot­tom into the pulp. On remov­ing it, he would shake it care­ful­ly to spread the fibres even­ly and drain off sur­plus water, and pass it to a ‘couch­er’ who turns out the wet sheet onto a felt blan­ket, cre­at­ing a stack of felt­ed sheets. The stack would then be put into a to a press to force out the sur­plus water, before the sheets were sep­a­rat­ed out and hung to dry in a loft. When dry, the paper would be treat­ed (or ‘sized’ depend­ing on the use to which it would be put, before being pressed, cut and pack­aged for the cus­tomer.

In the ear­ly years of the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, these process­es were grad­u­al­ly auto­mat­ed and paper was pro­duced in vast long sheets, known as webs, which were wound onto reels. With the increased demand for paper, rags were in short sup­ply, and exper­i­ments were made with oth­er raw mate­ri­als, such as espar­to grass and wood pulp.

There is a long his­to­ry of paper­mak­ing in the Edin­burgh area par­tic­u­lar­ly on the Water of Lei­th and the Riv­er Esk — more infor­ma­tion can be found on the fol­low­ing web­sites

Archives have sur­vived for a num­ber of paper­mak­ing firms, and give some idea of the geo­graph­i­cal spread of the indus­try through­out Scot­land:

Alexan­der Cow­an & Sons Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Penicuik,1709–1970 (Val­ley­field Mills, 1814–1937). Nation­al Records of Scot­land, Edin­burgh: ref GD311. The busi­ness book of Charles Cow­an are in the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics Library, Archives Divi­sion: ref Coll Misc 0343. Oth­er records are held pri­vate­ly Nation­al Reg­is­ter of Archives for Scot­land: ref 2391

Alexan­der Pirie & Sons, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Aberdeen, 18th-20th cen­tu­ry. Uni­ver­si­ty of Aberdeen Spe­cial Libraries and Archives: ref MS2911

Baler­no Paper­mill Com­pany, Edin­burgh. Nation­al Library of Scot­land, Edin­burgh: ref Acc.12180

C David­son & Com­pa­ny, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Mugiemoss Mills, Bucks­burn, 1852–1977. Uni­ver­si­ty of Aberdeen Spe­cial Libraries and Archives: ref MS 3232

C S & Co, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, near Den­ny (sub­sidiary of Vale Board Mills Ltd). Falkirk Coun­cil Archives: finan­cial records, cir­ca 1916–1928

Cald­well & Co Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Inverkei­thing, 1890–1911. Inverkei­thing Muse­um: ref Nation­al Reg­is­ter of Archives for Scot­land: ref 2013

Clyde Paper Com­pa­ny Ltd, Ruther­glen, 1852–1971. Glas­gow City Archives, Mitchell Library, Glas­gow ref: TD329

Craig­mar­loch Paper Co Ltd, Kil­syth, 1939–1963. Held pri­vate­ly Nation­al Reg­is­ter of Archives for Scot­land: ref 606

Cul­ter Paper Mill, 1843–1961. Uni­ver­si­ty of Aberdeen Spe­cial Libraries and Archives: ref MS3076

Cul­ter Mills Paper Co Ltd, 1865 — 1965.  Nation­al Reg­is­ter of Archives for Scot­land: ref 1197 & 1217

Daw­sholm Snuff & Paper Mills, snuff and paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Glas­gow, 1735–1873. Glas­gow City Archives, Mitchell Library, Glas­gow: ref, TD219/36

Don­side Paper Co Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Aberdeen, 1893–1968. Held pri­vate­ly. Nation­al Reg­is­ter of Archives for Scot­land: ref 1440

Edward Collins and Sons Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Glas­gow, 1844–1953. Glas­gow City Archives, Mitchell Library, Glas­gow, ref: TD403

G.B. Papers Plc, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Guard­bridge, Fife, 1853–1986. Held pri­vate­ly. Nation­al Reg­is­ter of Archives for Scot­land: ref 2770

George Laing & Co, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Baler­no, 1836–1846. Heri­ot-Watt Uni­ver­si­ty Archive, Records Man­age­ment and Muse­um Ser­vice, HWUA LOC

Guard Bridge Paper Co, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Guard­bridge, Fife, 1873–1984. Held pri­vate­ly Nation­al Reg­is­ter of Archives for Scot­land: ref 1197

Hen­ry Bruce & Sons Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Cur­rie, 1867–1931. Nation­al Library of Scot­land, Edin­burgh: ref MS.20671–20751; Heri­ot-Watt Uni­ver­si­ty Archive, Records Man­age­ment and Muse­um Ser­vice: ref TW (Records of Kin­lei­th Mill)

Inveresk Paper Co Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Inveresk, 1876–1964. Nation­al Records of Scot­land, Edin­burgh: ref GD269. Falkirk Coun­cil Archives:  adver­tis­ing leaflets and brochures

J Lovell and Son Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Lin­lith­gow, 1870–1963. Nation­al Records of Scot­land, Edin­burgh: ref GD272

James Brown & Co Ltd (Esk Mills), paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Penicuik, 1804–1968. Nation­al Records of Scot­land, Edin­burgh: ref GD1/575

James Dick­son, paper mer­chant, Edin­burgh, 1804–1807. Nation­al Library of Scot­land, Edin­burgh: ref Acc.9500; Acc 11149

James Lovell & Son Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Lin­lith­gow. Nation­al Records of Scot­land, Edin­burgh: ref GD272

John Gal­loway & Com­pa­ny Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Baler­no, 1875–1970. Nation­al Records of Scot­land, Edin­burgh: ref GD278. See also ‘Gal­loways of Baler­no’ (50th Anniver­sary Pub­li­ca­tion), 1916–1966

John Luke Jnr & Co, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, c1900-?; part of Vale Board Mills after 1945. Falkirk Coun­cil Archives: ref A097.002 22; A1038.066-.084; A1038.085-.097

John Tod & Sons Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Lass­wade, 1816–1965. Nation­al Records of Scot­land, Edin­burgh: ref GD1/440: l

Kin­lei­th Paper Mills. See Hen­ry Bruce & Sons Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Cur­rie, 1867–1931

Pirie & Sons, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Stoney­wood. Uni­ver­si­ty of Aberdeen Spe­cial Libraries and Archives: ref Nation­al Reg­is­ter of Archives for Scot­land: ref 51/47 (with­in ref 51 David­son and Gar­den, Solic­i­tors, Aberdeen)

R. Tullis & Co, Mark­inch. See Tullis Rus­sell & Com­pa­ny Ltd

Smith & McLau­rin Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, John­stone, 1856–1978. Held pri­vate­ly Nation­al Reg­is­ter of Archives for Scot­land: ref 1417

Smith Ander­son & Co Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Leslie, Fife, 1550–1995. Held pri­vate­ly Nation­al Reg­is­ter of Archives for Scot­land: ref 3606. Includes: Smith Ander­son (Blair­gowrie) Ltd 1970–1985; Eagle Envelopes Ltd 1984–1992

Thomas Chalmers, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Lin­lith­gow, 1858–1868. Nation­al Records of Scot­land, Edin­burgh: ref GD1/1162

Tullis Rus­sell & Com­pa­ny Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Mark­inch, Fife , c1827-1956
St Andrews Uni­ver­si­ty Library Depart­ment of Spe­cial Col­lec­tions: ref Nation­al Reg­is­ter of Archives for Scot­land: ref 1378, Rus­sell Papers
Also held pri­vate­ly Nation­al Reg­is­ter of Archives for Scot­land: ref  1378; Nation­al Reg­is­ter of Archives for Scot­land: ref 3223

Vale Board Mills Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers,  Den­ny (Vale Paper Co Ltd), 1887–1980. Falkirk Coun­cil Archives: ref A1038; A1280; A97 (includes ‘The Vale Board Mills Ltd’  and pre­de­ces­sors, 1800–1975)

William Milne (Falkirk) Ltd, box man­u­fac­tur­er and print­er. Falkirk Coun­cil Archives

William Som­merville & Son Ltd, paper man­u­fac­tur­ers, Penicuik, 1883–1971. Mid­loth­i­an Coun­cil Archives, ref­er­ence WSS

Oth­er use­ful links about paper­mak­ing: