John McDonald

1999/23 John McDonald, interviewed at his home by Dr David Finkelstein and Dr Heather Holmes on 7 December 1998.

000 Work as a gold blocker listing types of books, mixing up of dyes for cloth covers. Allowance of money for overalls for mixing dyes and milk for guilders. Starting an apprenticeship at Nelsons and practice of starting a number of apprentices at a time. Camaraderie in Nelsons and comparison with other firms. First job folding sheets of paper. Role of women in the firm during World War Two. Return of men after World War Two and acknowledgement that they would not ask the women for assistance in working with machines that they worked on. Mr McDonald's relations with the women during the war.
099 Role of women after the war working at folding machines. Work on the folding machines including techniques. Process of dumping and description. Chute to take away books and work in the New Factory. Case making in the New Factory and process of casemaking. Using scrims, glueing of books. Cold blocking. Relations of workers in Nelsons and how the departments related to one another. Factory was full of old machinery. Attendance at night school in Davie Street. Too many workers at Nelsons and work at slack periods of time.
244 Examples of books published by Nelsons including style of cover. Alexander Classics series for Australia and new Zealand. Exchange of books.
292 Exchange of books between the workers.
296 Cost of books for workers. Details of re-union of workers at Abden House. Gold blocking and relations with Mr McDonald's gaffer. Dangers of the machinery. Takeover of Nelsons by the Canadian Thomson Corporation. Fighting for field for the Commonwealth Pool and relations with Parkside Bowling Club. Feelings of workers over the Thomson Organisation takeover and the aspects of the company they sold off. New Factory at Nelsons and ways the factory could have been streamlined. Advantageous position of Nelsons for south of Edinburgh.
419 Work day routine for starting work and clocking in with a number. Lunch time pursuits such as climbing to the top of Arthur's Seat and come back tired; got the girls to look after the machines. Also betting, pub and snooker.
456 At day school had games of snooker; breaks at day school. Playing football with workers at Cowans. Afternoon hours. Overtime hours and breaks.
461 Ways of alleviating boredom. Problems of working with Bible paper. Railway books. Too many people employed in factory. Wandering about the factory during the quiet periods, for example for picking up books which the gaffer wanted.
498 Tasks with machinery during the quiet times, and work for the Managing Directors. Timesheets and lax nature of them. Experimenting with techniques. Boring jobs such as army pay books. Helping other workers to do their jobs. Censorship of books - the unabridged version of Rabbie Burns.
562 Role of the Unions at Nelsons including representatives and the area they covered and means of transport to visit these firms. Details of the strike action of 1959 including extent, money from the union and tasks which the workers were undertaking.
635 Lots of jealousy. Company attitudes towards crime and criminal action. Attempting to get a mortgage from Nelsons which was given to the office staff. Old people working at Nelsons and case of an eighty-year old, Willie Burnett, who worked as the last of the bookbinders, and his difficulties of filling in his timesheet.
743 Payment for the workers at a set rate. Got some extra money for undertaking extra jobs. Practice of working nightshift. Work with Pitkin Pictorials which had been printed the wrong way and had to be heat treated so that they would fold properly. Describes treatment of paper to heat it up. Vote for the forty hour week.
813 Number of workers in the bookbinding section and change over time. Number of blocking machines and types.
845 Steps of going through your gaffer for complaints. Mistakes on large print jobs. Examples including typographical errors and blocking. Role of the unions and progress for complaints. Method for asking for overtime. Delivering pamphlets to the Edinburgh Festival Society.
947 Parkside Bowling Club and playing for the Maul Trophy, including description of the trophy and bowling trophies around the major industries in Edinburgh. Inter-company sports and playing in the Printers League. Description of Parkside Bowling Club and size of green and car park. Members of Parkside Bowling Club from a photograph; football team.Discussion of photograph of trophies won at the printing game including names of people in photograph. Description of the field on sports day. Day trips and their organisation, twice a year. Flannel dance. Discussion of girls who did gold rubbing for Mr McDonald.

027 Dress in the factory: blue overalls. Also picture of a group at the flannel dance together with its location. Ceremonies at the end of an apprenticeship.
96 Practice of being taken to the bookbinder's daughter. Winning of the pools and sharing out some of the winnings amongst the workforce.
120 Ceremony for the girls when they got married, including details of dressing up. Also undertaken for Mr McDonald. Handouts when the women were getting married and hen nights.


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