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: