2003/17 John Mullervy interviewed in his own home in Edinburgh by Sarah Bromage on 3/4/2003
John Mullervy came to working in the papermaking industry after working as a labourer on local farms. He worked in the coating plant in Woodhall Mill from 1966 to 1982.
000 Junior Quality Control Staff. Water softening plant and alum ponds.
032 Day release to Esk Valley College and exams sat. Jobs of lab workers. New coating plant: existing staff reluctant to work in it. Plant adjacent but separate from the rest of the mill.
072 Made slurry, china clay and water for pulpers. Used to make cellofex which was a coating like wallpaper paste. Coating put onto paper, pasted on and then scraped off.
105 Coating made of 50 gallons of water, 230lb of china clay. Caustic soda came in in crystals and was boiled up. Added kayzine which was similar to a dried milk which gave it a cream effect. Had to be careful with water content of kayzine as it would solidify and burst tank. Would have to dig it out. Automatic coating machine wouldn't stop until cycle finished.
196 Repairs for motors expensive. Could see mill was going downhill so applied for a job with Scottish Newcastle. Had left the mill only a few months when it closed, lucky that he left.
223 Training given by 3 people. No formal training. Would have to clock in and clock out. Had worked independently before, difficult to adjust to having a supervisor.
257 Problem on shift between a Polish man and another man on shift. Apart from that everyone got on.
277 Families working on shift, careful who you talked to. Most people lived locally, but those who traveled in had problems with buses. If people did not come in would have to stay on.
314 Would go round houses to get someone. If worked on would get time and a half.
331 No protective clothing. Union SOGAT, not everyone joined. Between 60 – 80% in union. No regular union meetings. Strike. Shop steward was Campbell Muir who worked on the cutter. He ended up as Health and Safety Officer.
358 Not strict with regard to Health and Safety at the beginning, began to come in. Finger guards got removed and fingers got caught.
377 Serious accident in mill. Putting new felt on calender rolls, felt needs stretched. 2 men feeding felt in. Arm pulled in and flattened. The medic came in, fainted and split his head open.
418 In the pit bringing broke up, if you stood up you would turn your back. Had to be careful with caustic soda as you would burn yourself. Formaldehyde in the coating plant, had to stop using it.
437 No breaks, no canteen. Sandwiches at machine, kettle. Annual shut, July 2 week trade holiday. Would bring in students to clean up / painting / labouring. Maintenance would come in from Glasgow. No Christmas Day off when he first started. Got Christmas but no New Year.
473 No sporting teams, that came in in the late 1970s. Outing not well attended, people reluctant to participate.
495 Problem would be conversation, could only talk about work. Annual trips were the same people. People married to the job and no outlook beyond what they did.
522 Tom Duke General Manager of the mill. Inveresk mills, then he went to HQ. Mr Butcher took over after, didn't get on with him. Ran the mill into ground.
540 A lot of investment in the coating plant. A lot of trials and fault finding when he first started. Produced a good quality board for function it was used for. Made a lot of waste.
552 Only made for stock if order book was low. Huge warehouse, stock would go out quickly. People started to look for jobs elsewhere. When he left Woodhall end of loyalty period of mill.
570 Problems with dust in the sheet once it had been cut. Tried to clean already on service. Sent them down to Northhampton, staying in Northhampton. Never managed to help them with problem.
619 One weeks notice with the mill. 1960s / 1970s jobs in abundance, could quit and get a new job. Woodhall set him up financially and good experience.
649 No pension scheme with Woodhall. Went to Scottish and Newcastle.