The papermaking industry was deeply affected by the state of the domestic economy and it was often prone to booms and slumps in fortune. However, until 1960 the industry was protected by government tariffs imposed on paper imports into this country, this was all to change with the implementation of the European Free Trade Association Treaty. Under this treaty countries such as Norway, Sweden, Finland and Austria were to have their imports admitted with a yearly 10% reduction in duties until 1970 when all duties on imports were to be abolished. This was to have a devastating effect on the papermaking industry, which was intensified when the tariff reduction process was accelerated so that by 1966 all imports became duty free.
Paper producing countries such as Scandinavia, Finland and Canada had natural advantages which Britain did not have. They had enormous raw materials, integrated mills which took the paper through every process, a more abundant water supply and less stringent purification of effluent standarAdded to these advantages were cheaper fuel and power costs and more lenient taxation laws. These countries as the main suppliers of woodpulp to the UK, began to increase the costs of this raw material while keeping the paper price of their paper imports low. Therefore mills in the UK were faced with the prospect of having to match the price of Scandinavian paper imports while absorbing the spiraling costs of production in the UK.
By the 1960s many mills including Kinleith and Woodhall were owned by large companies such as Inveresk. When mills were family run they were more inclined to ride out economic troubles and wait for better times. Large companies demanded profits and would opt for closure if they were not forthcoming. In 1966 Inveresk announced that they were to close Kinleith Mill. With the subsequent closure of Woodhall Mill and finally the closure of Inglis Mill in 1989 the papermaking industry which had been active on the river for nearly 400 years disappeared.
‘one of the saddest things was seeing these great lorries taking away the machinery. And then you felt that the heart had gone out the village. And the village has never been the same’.