Tom Allison

(machineman 1948 - 1971)

2002/36, Tom Allison interviewed in his own home in Edinburgh by Sarah Bromage on 2/8/2002

Mr Allison worked as a machineman in Galloways between 1948-1971. He was the last person to work the number two machine before it closed. Mrs Allison worked in the office between 1958 and 1963000 Left school at 15. All family worked in papermills. Father knew manager so started at mill. Started in cutting department and became of ripple manager.

030 No training, just learnt on job. 6 months probation, if you weren't good you were fired. Just watched and asked questions. Bought papermaking book and taught himself.
054 People were protective of the knowledge that they had. Guards on machine, but were often left off. Accidents in the mill; stack fell off overhead crane. Fell into the belts.
082 No money if you were off sick or had an accident. Would put in claim to union.

100 Machine would not stop. Pit would fill up with paper. 5,500 feet of paper produced a minute. Would re-feed paper by hand. Fell into machine at night.

124 Valleyfield Mill; when stopped machine would run for 20 minutes after. No computer to check quality of paper, would feel with fingertips what the moisture content was.

146 Would put guards on when factory inspector came round. Got into trouble for flooding effluent into river as Galloways was the first on the river.

170 Was a member of the union, was not interested in union. Galloways was not a closed shop. Union meetings at the mill. 24 hour strike where staff ran machine and made mess. Mill closed at 6.10pm on 17th December 1971. Strike a penny rise in 1960.

201 Hours worked. 3 shift system. Would sometimes work through the weekend. Would make extra for New Years shut. Open on Christmas Day and the manager would come round with a glass of whisky.

220 Closed Christmas and New Years Day in the office. Worked Monday to Friday and every 3rd Saturday morning.

230 Machinemen paid weekly. Office fortnightly. Men would alter payslips so wife would not know.

247 Got married, not marked. People short of money.

260 Woodpulp short. Esparto grass short of supply. Sweden put an embargo on woodpulp. Paper trade went through peaks and troughs. DRG would make business cards, cheaper to send to the US.

285 Coal miners strike. On 1 day a week and no help from the union. No help from government. Arguments with union men.

301 A lot of short time. Make a lot of paper for stock and wait for price to rise. A lot of foreign customers. The champion process. People never stayed off sick.

319 Voluntary redundancy. Shut down of one machine and kept the other one running. Nurse at Galloways, full time and visited those that were sick. Had first aid room. Canteen.

335 Breaks on machine. If thing goes wrong, would not take a break.

360 Jobs undertaken; cutting to winding then to broke boy. Then went to be wet end boy. Assistant machineman and spare machineman. Esk Valley College on day release to learn City and Guilds. Government paid to send you. You would learn and teach people below you. You would be paid to teach.

387 At college taught safety first. No safety clothing provided, would buy own. Dealing with toxic material that you knew nothing about. Using formaldehyde.

408 Body got used to conditions, build up an immunity. Worked with immunity. Worked with ammonia; man nearly asphyxiated on ammonia and another got covered with ammonia.

430 200-300 people worked in Galloways. Trades in Galloways. 6 machinemen and a spare machine man. Never spoke to Mr Galloway, he was a shy man.

457 Lack of orders for Galitho and Galart. Mill liquidiser ran the mill for 6 months. Night that mill closed washed up machines as if he was starting up again. Overextended themselves by the coating plant.

478 Cost of papermaking machine. Description of pictures. Types of paper. Death of Mr Galloway.

493 Tennis club, putting green and village hall at Galloways. Whist drive and dances. Bowling green owned by the people. Annual trips which stopped after the War.

508 Pigeon clubs, greyhounds and gardening competition. Allotments owned by council, most people at Galloways had an allotment.

520 Mr Galloway had a chaffeur. Gardens at Galloways. Management had houses. Mill houses at Harlaw Road.

532 After Galloways went to Livingston. Then went to Penicuik. DRG conversion mill, was foremen for 10 years at Markinch. Would make carbonless paper.

547 Most people got jobs in Waddies and Woodhall Mill. Worked at Bonnington Mill.

557 40 people worked at Bonnington Mill. Pub very close which was a problem. Was a very strict foreman. When a machineman you were really a supervisor. Accidents in the mill.

570 Would work on an extra hour to wait for next shift. If problem there were people who would wait on. Had to work more to cover for people's unreliability. Would often be called out to work. Against safety first. Had electric kettles and boilers. The assistant would make tea. Never let paper or mess lie, would be disciplined. Training of the army.

643 Everyone knew everybody's business. Savings club put in 5 bob a week. No marked retirement. Allowed unofficially to take paper. Paper for high class magazines. Meticulous with orders.

689 Women in overhauling. Reams hand worked into lorries. Railway station at Balerno. Transferred to Granton Harbour by lorries.

714 Students visited the mill. Sensor to control the speed of the machine. Playing trick on students.

747 Pension scheme. Length of service not marked.

760 6-9 months before the mill closed workers were told that it did not have much future. Voluntary redundancy was offered. Only got £300. Lancashire papermill came up to try and help. But just wanted order book which was common feature of the industry.

785 Worried about the future at this time. Worked a 40 hour week. Always went in holiday whereas other people drunk their wages.

797 2 week summer holiday. One day in September and April. A total of 17 days a year. Everyone at same time apart from engineers.

811 Printers strike affected them, shut down and short time. Paper turned back, not allowed to export. Printers thought they were above papermakers

830 John Connor wanted to build a newsprint mill. Ideal spot for a papermill but fell through. Government would not help and recycling run at a loss.

852 Anderson who worked in turbine house, the stories he would tell. The 'long stand' joke. Pail of steam and tartan ink. Jokes played on those who first started. Jokes; bucket of water on those who slept.

880 Club which his father was in 'Who is going to live longest?' Worked for 50+ years until the end of Kinleith and then worked as security. Father ripped up carpet in the board room and then reported it. Rosin for making size which was good for making kindling. Took firewood.

904 Fires at the esparto shed, grass built up combustion. Mill fire engines. Firewatching during the war.

930 Camouflage on walls during the war, would run the mill in the dark. Enjoyed working in the mill.

939 No2 would have long orders. Whereas No1 machine would change orders every 2 hours. At Galloways would stay on machine at same time. Kept with the same people all the time.

954 No advertisement, would just shift up when people died. 1958-1963 in the office and most people would leave when got married.

970 Mum worked on overhauling at Kinleith. Sister overhauling paid by work did. Galloways paid by the hour. All started at the same time in the morning, but had no set hours. Would do their allotted section and leave.

985 Difficulty with bible paper. Would just take what was given.

991 End.

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