William Manson

(Cochranes of Annan, boiler contractors)

2003/1 William Manson interviewed in his own home in Edinburgh on 14/1/2003

Mr Manson grew up in Colinton village around the mills on the Water of Leith. He later worked for Cochranes of Annan who installed boilers into the mills around the Water of Leith area.

000 Finishing floor; paper brought up by a crane onto a trolley to carry pallets. 2 men there, John who fell through trap door. Paper produced at Mossy Mill; brown paper, white and brown paper and whisky cases

058 Was a contractor installing equipment. Water of Leith purification, spent money on water purification machine. Accident with due, river dyed yellow.

090 Might be fined for this. Main sewer goes past side of mill. Hut at edge of mill which had machine that measured level of sewer.

124 Boiler was Lancashire boiler, 2 fires. Very popular type of boiler. Service engineers checking burners before came to Mossy Mill

160 Automatic stokers in boilers. Once a year boiler had to be cleared of ash by hand. Long flue which you could sit on. Hosed ash, shoveled it and took it away. Ash used for gardening and breeze blocks.

192 Boiler getting old and too expensive to run. Working for Cochranes of Annan on sales side. Mill was on shoe string budget.

208 Stott new managing director at Mossy Mill. Boiler was replaced in trades holiday. Cut into banking and inserted new boiler and simply changed connection and got rid of old boiler later. Where old boiler had been a work room was put in.

239 Could always hear the clunk of the pump on the old boiler. Men would close mill any chance they got at night.

275 Accident with governor belt breaking meant that machine went faster and faster with pulp spilling out everywhere.

286 3 shift system. Beaters and finishers would not work at night. Mill was family run by MacDougall brothers. During war Mrs MacDougall worked on cutting machine.

320 Can't remember an office. As a salesman would go round and ask if work was needed.

362 Many men stayed in the firm for years, only 2 mill houses. Porridge mill had mill houses

385 Involved with installation of accumulator machine at Kinleith Mill. Arrived by train, large steam boiler plant at mill. Trevor Sansom chief engineer.

409 Woodhall got steam from Kinleith, possibility of change to gas burner. Woodhall was much more technically advanced than Mossy Mill.

427 Machinery had to be in-line. Stretched a piano wire to check alignment. Not that noisy in mill. Not too hot, sometimes draughty.

452 Score passing over, which let them know if there was break. Balance square put on scale to measure and check recipe. No lab, used micrometer. Chemical store to make white paper.

470 Fire in mill. A fire pump was installed, passageway through mill very narrow. Pipe dipping into water, never saw it being tested.

482 Health and Safety; had to look after yourself. Design of boiler; insurance company would inspect every vessel and check for cracking. Water check where you would fill with water. Increase pressure and seams must hold.

501 All driving parts were guarded. No safety uniform existed. Would wear overalls and big boots. All men would have a piece box. Had a golden syrup tin with wire on top and container with sugar and tea. Put the tin in boiler on pole for ten seconds. So hot would have to hold wire. Sandwiches; would eat round dirty hands and throw dirty bit away.

536 Breaks would be taken anywhere warm. Time clock just inside mill door. Maybe a little office there. Chimney only 60ft.

560 Kinleith chimney 5th highest in Scotland. Needed height for larger boilers. Galloways had to comply with clean air act.

573 People just kept on going day to day. No shortage of jobs. Deckle on the Water of Leith not wide enough, jobbing mill. Could make up very small orders. Could change sizes and recipe easily.

593 Made boxes for whisky industry. Strike led to problems as whisky companies only ordered on a week to week basis. Meant whisky industry decided to go to a lot of different suppliers. Lost the business.

618 Mills on Water of Leith very inefficient in comparison to other countries.

626 End

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