Richard Blaikie

(shift supervisor)

2002/85, Richard Blaikie interviewed in his own home in Edinburgh by Sarah Bromage on 25/9/2002

Richard Blaikie worked in Woodhall Mill from 1957 to 1984. He started in the mill as a Kepper boy and his last position in the mill was shift supervisor.

000 Worked for one year in farms after school. Went to Woodhall which made wrappers for Kinleith. 1957 mill changed to board mill after being bought by Inveresk. Demolished mill and took out machinery. Hydro pulper kept mill going.

037 Low production of wrappers, 5 tonnes a week. Kepper boy, when paper was cut caught sheets of paper. Defective boards flicked similar to overhauling. Paper packaged immediately and taken away by John Bryce contractors.

072 Paper only stored overnight. Father started work in mill and he followed him in to mill.

093 Father on cutters, worked with him for a year and then a vacancy came up on the papermaking machines.

104 Remodelled into board mill. Bertrams built machinery. Old machines sold on maybe to Churnside. RAF National Service.

134 Extended buildings at back, demolished cottages and office for new mill, New processes and buildings at mill.

148 Board went through to Westfield to cut board. Continuous cutting machine, cut as it was made. Alterations on board machine when it was at Woodhall in the 1970s. Production 200 tonnes a week.

183 GP Inveresk computerised system in early 1980s. £1 million investment, complicated. Hands on training. Progression from machine assistant to dryer man to machine man. Nobody brought into job, natural progression.

227 Did every job. 6 months in every department. Assigned to beaterman who taught him about pulp and length of fibres. Customers would go down to sales office in London who would get the orders. Customers Thynes, Smiths in Glasgow. Training.

269 Interesting place to work. Production to be stepped up. Were on 3 shift system, closed mill on Saturday morning and opened up on Sunday night. Mid 1970s brought in 4 shift continental system. Mill only shut down once a month. Felt would last 2 months. 5 – 6 hours to change a felt; big job.

288 When machine stopped all hands on deck. Broke waste paper filled up trench and was taken up to the sheds and fed back into the process. 3 men in shed, overhead cranes then trucks. People who worked in the sheds were quite old.

322 Raw materials were mechanical woodpulp, waste paper, bleach pulp. Layer of board. 1970s new coating plant. 1 man on each shift in coating plant, meant you could use china clay instead of bleach pulp.

345 Numbers of people working in each process 6 cutters, 5 machine house, 3 beaterhouse, 3 in shed. 20 people a shift plus those in the lab and the paper testers.

366 Promoted to shift supervisor. Shift supervisor would look at report book and check departments and stock about to go to the customers. Furnish sheet; pulp recipe. Any trouble were there to assist.

390 Problems with machine, cylinders out of line, cylinders shearing. When mill shut men would clean up and do wash up. Electricity board went on strike in the 1980s, 3 day week. Electricity shuts out and pulp goes everywhere.

417 When new mill was being built they used the steam from Kinleith.END

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