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Work and Methods
The Telex Machine
Head Office Operating
Vulcanite Tower Topples
Modernisation Plan hits the headlines--July 1957
The end of an Era
January 15 2011
Work and Methods
January 15 2011
This is evidence of the progress
that has been made in the collection and analysing
of payroll information over the last 50 years
here to read the first page of the Accounting article
Below is page Two of the article
September 27 2010
The Telex Machine
Below we have an item from 1959 showing the
progress of the Telex machine half a century ago
Here to see the Telex article
This article is in Adobe Acrobat format so you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader
(you can download it free) It does take a little longer to load.
You will see at the middle bottom of the screen after you actually
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Office Operating by John Stuart
from the February NB News of February 1961
November 25 2010
Who has been with the company since 1920 and who is associated with the Invoicing Department for many years . In addition we have Nan Mitchell and Bunty Mcfarlane who between them have 77 years service with the Company and whose experience is invaluable: and by no means least we have Mrs Sadie Gifford, our chief invoicing typist , who has been with the Company since 1948 and who sets an excellent example of how to deal with the problems of typing our invoices when exceptionally heavy shipments have been made and the schedule is in danger. Under the managership of Irvine Archibald, our Head Office Operating Department has welded itself into an efficient and enthusiastic tean who contribute in no small way to one of the vital functions of the Company's operation
April 18 2008
report on the 3 Million Pound
modernisation plan at Castle Mills
North British News of May 1952
North British News of July 1952
February 1 2008
Our £3 Million Modernisation Plan
Hits the headlines
An aerial view of the western end of Castle Mills, occupying about a third of the whole area , which will be largely demolished to make way for re building. The Vulcanite block with its dominating tower alongside the Union Canal will disappear.
How the New building will look
The artists impression of the reconstructed area with it's one-story building of
145,000sq.ft adjoining the New Hose Room at the extreme end.That and the Reclaim
buildings are all that remain of the present lay-out. To the residents in close proximity
to that part west of Viewforth it will be quite a change--certainly more pleasing
to the eye
January 19 2008
This is a report from NB News in the late 40's
Below is the final piece from the NB News
May 18 2006
THE END OF AN ERA---
A SHORT HISTORY OF CASTLE MILLS
From the year
the Castle Mills story began for us in 1856, when Queen Victoria was on
the throne, until its closing in 1973, this great factory has been
the backcloth for many exciting developments and many human dramas,
outlasting the life-spans of vast numbers of its workers.
What has Castle
Mills seen during its long and distinguished life?
The story begins
on a grey day in January 1856, when an American merchant ship, the
Harmonia, arrived in the Clyde with a cargo of machinery and skilled
workers who were to found the first vulcanized rubber plant in Scotland.
The man in charge
of this pioneering venture was an American, Henry Lee Norris, whose
descendants still hold an interest in our company.
How Norris happened to come to Scotland at all is to be found in
the history of patents in the rubber industry.
Charles Macintosh, the man who brought the word Macintosh in to the
English language, discovered the use of purified naphtha as the solvent
for raw rubber in 1823 and set up his water-proof factory in the vicinity
of Glasgow. Charles Goodyear
started using the sulphur vulcanization process in 1839, and Thomas
Hancock, of Charles Macintosh & Co., Manchester, in 1843.
In the battle for patents, Goodyear, who had been forestalled by
Hancock in England, took advantage of the requirements that a separate
patent was necessary for Scotland and beat Hancock North of the Border in
1844. Norris and Co. acquired
from Goodyear the right to make the improved rubber products in Scotland.
Henry Lee Norris
engaged for his Edinburgh mills four New Yorkers skilled in the
manufacture of rubber footwear---Louis Dixon, Sophia Terry, Hannah Dixon
and Walter P. Dunn. It was
something of a fluke that he chose Edinburgh for the new enterprise and
not Glasgow, for Norris had looked unsuccessfully for accommodation in
Glasgow. Finally, he took
over the Castle Silk Mills, which had been vacant for a while on the north
bank of the Union Canal near its terminal in Ports Hamilton and Hopetoun.
The feu-duty, a piece of land granted forever on payment of an
annual rent, for the silk mills was “two pennies on the pint of ale in
favour of the City of Edinburgh”, which suggests that the location had
been intended at one time for a brewery.
How wry a stroke of fate that the Scottish and Newcastle Breweries
are taking over the factory site now…
and his group of New Yorkers ( the women earning a dollar a day and men a
dollar and a half), using the 370-worth
of machinery they had brought with them, began teaching the trade to
Edinburgh workers. By 1857,
the company had been registered as the North British Rubber Company
Limited, and from making boots and shoes, they rapidly progressed to
rubber belting and hose. By
1869, the firm was employing 600 operatives turning out a vast variety of
articles, and in 1870 a new type of demand came in when the development of
the road steamer, or traction engine, started the tyre trade.
A milestone, indeed.
It was a Scotsman,
R.W. Thomson, who introduced his “road steamer”, the wheels of which
were covered with rims of vulcanized rubber.
The tyres, weighing 750 lbs., were made by the North British Rubber
company. The first set was
fitted to a four-wheeled traction engine, and was tested on roads between
the factory and the outlying village of Balerno in 1875.
The traction engine was used for farm work in the Balerno district
for many years. It led to the
beginning of an export trade, several sets of tyres being sent abroad to
breakthrough came in 1890 with the invention of the detachable pneumatic
tyre by the company’s own Managing Director, W.E. Bartlett.
This was the basis of all subsequent tyre development.
It was known as the “ClincherTyre” and manufacture was started
at Castle Mills that year.
From then on, the
story of the North British Rubber Company is one of steady expansion.
One commodity after another was added to the extensive list of
their enterprises, until finally it became the largest industrial unit in
Edinburgh, occupying 22 acres, right in the heart of the city.
Over these many years, just about everything that can be made of
rubber (except, oddly enough, tennis balls) has poured from this great
factory: giant hoses, rubber
sheeting, conveyor belting, tyres, equipment for heavy industry, for
hospitals and shipbuilders, motor and aircraft industries, water, gas and
electrical engineers---all these, and many more, reight down to hot-water
bottles, golf balls, combs and even fruit jar rims!
WORLD WAS A
The turn of the
century came and went. Queen
Victoria dies; The Edwardian
days gave promise of never-ending prosperity.
In 1910 the North British Rubber Company purchased the Scottish
Vulcanite Company, formed in 1861 for the purpose of making vulcanite
combs. And in 1911 the started
to manufacture gold balls. By
1914, the Company was able to furnish a room and the International Rubber
Exhibition with nothing but rubber. The
walls were paneled in rubber. The floor was covered in Rubber---even the
curtains were of a fine rubber fabric.
All the furniture was of processed rubber, as were the pens and
But then came the
holocaust of the first world war.
Like other great
industrial concerns, the North British Rubber Company was called upon to
make a quick and drastic adjustment when the war broke out. The response was magnificent.
Between 1914 and 1918, without pause, the Company produced in
enormous quantities equipment as vital to victory as guns and shells.
THEY GAVE THEIR
At the outbreak of
war in August 1914, 440 men from Castle Mills immediately joined the
colours, and later a total of 500 joined up during the course of the war,
some never to return to Castle Mills.
There were 106 employees of the Company who gave their lives for
HELPING THE WAR
mills were running night and day. Flooded
trenches called for special measures, and the Company was asked by the War
Office to construct a suitable boot, very strong and of the finest
material. Eventually they
were turning out 2,750 pairs of boots a day, and produced a staggering
total of 1,185,036 pairs. Apart
from trench boots, the Company supplied for the Admiralty and War Office
70,000 pairs of boots and shoes; 248,326 pairs of gymnastic shoes; and
close on 47,000 pairs of heavy snow boots for the French Army.
Fabric used in
making tyres for war purposed reached two million square yards; 863 miles
of balloon cloth; immense quantities of hose for pumping out trenches, in
connection with gas attacks. These,
and many other items, were a tremendous part of the war effort, and a part
of the Company’s history which will always command respect and
the end of hostilities---for 20 or so years, at least---came the uneasy
peace. Along with the
flappers and the Charleston, Oxford bags and Rudolph Valentino, came
sweeping social change. During
that period, the British rubber industry had a secure hold on the world
market. It earned millions of pounds, and the North British Rubber
company was a major contributor to the country’s economic welfare.
LEVELLING OF CLASS
Those days saw an
increasing levelling of the “class” system.
Shorter working hours meant more leisure, and there was no shortage
of activities and sports facilities available to members of the Company:
the Football Club commanded strong support even then; tennis, golf
on the Braids, bowling at West Meadows, and an annual sports day, all had
their enthusiasts. And
indoors, regular dances and whist drives were held, as well as billiards
and table-tennis matches. Motor
cars, too, were no longer the prerogative of the very rich and most
families had at least a bicycle---all needing tyres, thereby increasing
North British Rubber company’s output.
Royal Highness then spent some time in the factory of the North British
Rubber Company (Ltd) in Fountainbridge, which occupies about 30 acres and
normally employs 5,000 people of whom 50% are women. The Company’s
business connections are world wide and they have branches in many
countries, and the Prince saw in the making products varying from
vulcanite combs and golf balls to floor matting, footwear and motor tyres….before
leaving , the Prince placed a wreath at the Works War memorial , which
contains the names of 210 men who fell in action, and finally His Royal
highness had a novel experience of seeing from the iron gallery over the
yard the human lunch-time which pours from the factory when the midday
buzzer sounds. His Royal Highness was cheered by a large crowd on his
The mammoth enterprise continued to flourish earning Royal recognition on several occasions, the last being the visit of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1960. Her Majesty Queen Mary visited the factory in 1924, and Prince George in 1932. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the factory in 1941, but by this time the second world war was in its second year, and the Royal visits to industrial centres were part of their morale-boosting support in the war-effort programme.
1939-1945 war, the North British Rubber Company again made an important
specialized contribution. With
the outbreak of war, 80% of their entire output consisted of war
materials. The list is
extensive. It included
7,000,000 gas maks, 10,000,000 air raid precaution sundries, 18,500,000
pairs of protective footwear, 1,000,000 rubber life belts, 8,000,000 yards
of ground sheet, balloon and dinghy material, 7,500 miles of rubber tubing
and 4,300 miles of hose.
In the active
field of battle, the Company introduced many important items: for warships, a rubber composition deck covering which was
jointless and non-slip. With
the invasion of Holland and warfare that followed D-day, the Forces
assigned to the task of clearing Holland of the enemy had to deal with
flooded conditions. There was
an urgent and imperative call to the North British Rubber Company to
provide large quantities of Wellington boots and thigh boots.
Vast quantities of “Q”
With the war
finally over Castle Mills set about coping with post-war demands for the
home and export markets.
In 1946, the North British Rubber company entered into a close technical agreement with United States Rubber Company, one of the largest manufacturers in the world and, indeed, the largest manufacturer anywhere of mechanical goods. This exchange of “know-how” enabled the Edinburgh firm to keep in the van of progress.
Progress was such
that by 1950, despite an acute labour shortage, new production and
conveyor methods were allowing Castle Mills to secure a much larger volume
now the economical production methods at Castle Mills were paying
dividends. Cost reductions were obtained, particularly in boots and heavy
footwear, the increased production of heavy duty tyres to serve the
increasing demand from Europe.
1955 the US Royal tyre was launched from Castle Mills and formed a firm
base upon which the company built it’s tyre market. By 1959 a hose plant
the most modern industrial hose manufacturing facility in Europe was in
1956 the controlling interest passed to the American firm—fitting
perhaps, since it had been founded by a group of Americans and there had
been continuous British and American investment throughout it’s
New products were introduced for the benefit of British industry and the public. The Powergrip Timing Belt was launched and was immediately accepted by industry : Royalite , a thermoplastic product, was introduced with marked success in the motor industry: and a new waffle-pattern carpet underlay came on to the market, the success of which can be measured by the position Treadaire holds in the carpet industry at the present time.
early sixties saw further expansion. Between 1962-64 the Castle Mills
plant won a belting order for 600,000 for open cast mining in Russia.
Suction and discharge hose was provided for the 41/2 million Firth of
Clyde Drydock, and Butyl Rubber fendering was used extensively in the
modernization of Avonmouth Docks.
In 1965 the
purchase of a site at Newbridge was negotiated with the intention of
locating a modern tyre factory there and a factory to produce other rubber
and plastic goods which were being produced at Castle Mills.
CHANGE OF NAME
February 1, 1966 the company changed its name to Uniroyal Limited.
Over the next seven years the reputation for quality and
excellence, which Castle Mills had long held, was absorbed into the new
organization; and although the great factory itself was closed in 1973,