2002/88, Roger Prince interviewed in his own home in Edinburgh by Sarah Bromage on 4/10/2002
Roger Prince is the Safety Officer at Dalmore Mill, Penicuik. He began his working career as a draughtsman at James Bertram and Sons, Leith Walk, Edinburgh.
000 Earliest memories. Father used to sell dyes to the papermaking industry. Very friendly with John Jones the mill chemist. Went round Galloways as a child. Remembers looking at the vat where they boiled the caustic soda and the beaters with revolving drum. Hand feeding pulp. Remembers Mr Jones telling him about lizards and spiders coming out of bales of esparto grass.
045 Process which the esparto grass went through. Came away with samples of paper. Tours given round the mill, now too concerned with health and safety. Used to have school tours but that requires too much supervision.
073 Smell of esparto grass, sweetish kind of smell. Schools attended. Always wanted to be an engineer. Introduced to director at Bertrams, started off in the drawing office.
104 Four year apprenticeship. 1st year in drawing office, 2nd and 3rd year going roundworks. 4th year back in office. Departments worked in.
122 Day release to Napier, ONC in engineering which never completed. Apprentice wage, certificate off apprenticeship. When designing a complete machine would have a section leader. Mixture of work for abroad and domestic markets. Last major project was for Algeria. Built everything right up to accommodation for senior staff.
210 Staff went out to set up and train staff to run the mill. 1964 – 1972 in drawing office. 30 or 40 people in drawing office. 30 or 40 people in drawing office. David Dixon ran Algerian job.
236 Hours worked. No canteen, had closed. People brought own lunch in. Staff from all over Edinburgh. Social club at Meggetland belonged to Bertrams of Sciennes. Bowling green. No memories of annual trip.
270 Was a member of Draughtsman and Allied Technicians union. Latterly this was the engineers union.
279 Union meetings and disputes. Contention over pay. Day strike in Winter of Discontent.
296 Completing apprenticeship. No dress code in the drawing office. Pens and pencils used in work.
317 No division between departments. Jokes on apprentices, would lock people in drying cylinders. Layout of factory.
360 James Bertram and directors. Relationship of James Bertrams, Leith Walk and Bertrams of Sciennes.
380 A lot of people stayed there for a long time. Though in drawing office a lot left to go into other industries.
398 Tracers were girls. 2 girls would trace onto linen cloth. No lady draughtsmen. All men in workshop and women in secretarial side.
411 Research and development, there was no specific department. Plant was always busy, closed due to bad accounting.
427 Aware of decline and that times were changing. Didn't live locally.
440 Algerian job had not finished so joined that when Bertrams closed. Set up own business called Lothian Projects with 2 former employees of Bertrams, 7 years with them. Working at Caldwells as a draughtsman.
458 Moved to Dalmore Mill, Penicuik as a draughtsman. Moved into being a Safety Officer. No emphasis on Health and Safety at Bertrams. Accidents grinding gages off metal, hurt hand. There was no accident report.
490 Health and Safety training today. Induction 2-3 hours. Go over legislation, tour and show dangerous aspects of working. Mentored to make sure that they are trained properly. Discussed safety at all levels in the mill.
515 People started to become aware of health and safety since the 1980s. Didn't have to wear ear protection and no advice given. People wear eye protection and ear protection. Boots with steel toe caps. High visibility jackets.
543 Implementation of procedures. Holidays at Bertrams; 2 weeks and public holidays. Worked Christmas Day the 1st year that he worked there. Off at New Year.
565 7.30 – 4.30pm factory worked. Working overnight in the foundry. Overtime available 2 – 3 nights a week. Paid time and a half.
580 Paid weekly and latterly monthly. Pension scheme. Long service.
607 Went to Inveresk after Bertrams. A lot of people went into other industries. Premises took 6 months to close after shut.
627 J and D Bertram based in Mill Lane in Leith for purely design work. 10 people at the most. 4 or 5 years on Algerian project. From tendering involved in drawing machinery. Layout work. Went to Algeria to supervise performance trials. Draw out maintenance report.
685 Always snags with jobs.
707 Jobs from the Water of Leith for parts. Always work coming in from these mills.
725 Drawing up a drying cylinder from scratch would take on average a week. But using previous designs to work form. Designing a whole paper machine from scratch you could have the whole drawing office working for a year.
733 No direct competition with Bertrams of Sciennes as they would not encroach on each others markets. Walmsley and companies in Manchester were main competitors. Did not deal with tissue paper, products made
769 West End Engineers, Edinburgh made cutting machines. Ancillary machinery manufacturers.
790 Current state of the papermaking industry. Problems with Inveresk. Speciality of Dalmore for watermarked paper. Deep colours and short runs, would make as little as 2 tonnes per order. Security papers.
817 Change grade and keep machine going. The broke goes up to the beginning of the process. Not a common occurrence to have a break. Mill working a week ahead in orders