John Anderson

(laboratory then production manager)

2002/78, John Anderson interviewed in his own home in Edinburgh by Sarah Bromage on 4/9/2002

Mr Anderson worked in Woodhall Mill for 22 years in the laboratory. He progressed to the position of Production Manager.

000 Went to Woodhall straight from school. Tried other mills, they had no vacancies. New lab at Woodhall, so started there doing paper testing.
025 Went to Woodhall primarily because it was local. Did not want to have to travel into Edinburgh or have an office job. Did not have any family in industry
041 Careers officer at school arranged interviews with mills. Happy times at mill. Went to night school for 2 years James Clarks and then day release at Bristo Tech and then Esk Valley College.
068 Only worked shifts occasionally but hard work. Firm paid for college, would pay first then firm would reimburse you. Pay for travel as well.
090 If you passed you got a rise in salary. The lab split paper testers would go to Esk. The mill chemist Ian Napier; 4 shift testers and 4 mill chemists. Around 10 in lab. No testing before lab. In 1964 mill changed product to whiskey boxes, white board. Before then was a wrapping mill.

140 Woodhall was first mill to have an on machine coater, clay base on paper. First mill to have cutting paper by water jets. Innovative mill. But low output in comparison no room to expand and unfair competition.

156 When started Inveresk were putting money into mill. Taken over by Georgia Pacific. Were taken over as owed GP a lot of money so took over. GP put money into mills when took over.

175 When GP Inveresk took over was going to leave but decided to stay as they were putting money into mill 1981 – 1982. Stayed into end.

185 GP put in online computer control. Computers led to a reduction in labour. When started 165 people worked in mill, when finished there was 60. But production had increased.

208 Gradual reduction in number of people. 3 shift system when started would work a lot of overtime. 1970s went onto continental shift system. Mill only stopped 2 weeks at summer and at Christmas. Made lots of money

224 1987 gradual decline went back onto 3 shift system. At end worked Monday to Thursday. Knew it was going to end. New machines in mainland Europe

236 3 shift; hours worked. His hours would work 7 days a week 9-5. At end was production manager would work many hours. Sometimes called out.

260 Long hours part of job, when moved job felt guilty as he had so much time off. Also in mill you were with people all the time, used to talking to people.

279 Offices were in railway station at Juniper Green. Mill heated by Kinleith until 1972. Had a package boiler as well. When Kinleith closed only boilermen were employed and were transferred to Woodhall payroll.

310 Mill closing gave opportunity not to carry on with industry. Did not want to move, had opportunities to go away or abroad. One person went from Kinleith to Woodhall.

333 Was in lab for 6 years as lab assistant responsible to mill chemist. Research and development run from down south but they closed it. No research and development.

369 Mushroom boxes made at Woodhall. Could use lower grade board for mushroom boxes. Now mainly plastic boxes. Coloured board for Ballantines whiskey.

390 80% of product waste paper. Suppliers of waste paper. Shortages and imports from US but quality was not good. 10% mechanical pulp. 15% sulphite

415 Inveresk supplies would centrally order pulp for mill. Waste paper bought locally as Woodhall was only mill that used waste paper.

431 1965 – 1970 mill chemist 1970 –1979 Technical manager. Responsibility for people and different work roles as technical manager. Manager of mill was Paul Duke. Douglas Clark manager when the mill finished.

461 Biggest complaints at Woodhall were edge dust. Metal slitter led to surface dust that deposited on sheet as hickeys that would not accept ink. Laser not good but water jet worked in US and transferred technology across here. Would cut board immediately, would clean cutter section every day but did not work.

500 1st to actually put online coating. Usually coating an after process, did not have to employ more people or have extra buildings. Site very restricted, no room for expansion.

518 Office had railway line running across it. Access to mill steep, accidents with cars and lorries. Everything shipped out by lorry. Shipped out by lorry to sub contractor John Bryce.

529 Technical manager responsible for smooth running of board machine. Description of Woodhall production activities and workforce. Had handed in notice in 1982. There was no technical manager so ended up doing two jobs found it difficult so thought about leaving.

565 Went back to 3 shift in 1982. Decline, not surprised that it was going to close. Men knew there was a chance it would close and were always asking him, but he did not know.

585 Only given a weeks notice. Management knew it was going to close by November but did not tell them till after New Year. Got 3 months redundancy. Kept on General Manager and engineer getting rid of equipment that went for scrap.

607 Health and safety when started non existent. Not many guard. Would change felt while machine was still running. Health and safety improved in the period. Mr Anderson got tinnitus. Encouraged to wear toe protectors. No ear protectors. No protection in lab. Dealing with mercury and some did not use protection. Different materials and chemicals dealt with.

682 Now health and safety committee must wear goggles and protective clothing. Must go on course and get engineering passport. Thinks that it takes a long time to accept and do jobs safely.

709 Accidents in mill. Death at mill when paper in warehouse that was piled up fell on man. Another incident when start up felts would wander would grab felt and pull it over, a man's hand got caught and got pulled through press roll. Another guy went round the felt rolls.

755 Minor accidents such as finger caught in calender rolls and fingers burnt. Lifting things that were too heavy for you.

770 Jokes you played. A guy would bath in tanks, but mixer in tank and he was told not to do it as could be killed. He kept on doing it but they filled tank with green dye. Night shift guys who had had a drink and would tie shoes together and sound horn. Good place to work.

802 Wages not good. Not everyone in mill were a member of union. Paid dues and would get taken off wages. Union meetings, union rep on each shift and had shop steward. No strikes.

827 Most people worked in Woodhall lived locally. Mostly men, 5 women in mill and they worked in office. Papermill was man's domain and office women's domain.

856 A lot of the men socialised together at Kinleith Arms. Golf club, footbal club and fishing club. Football club would have a dance.

871 Started a football club played in amateur league. Originally had to work in mill to play in team but with the advent of shifts had to bring other people in. Social life good. Always them and us syndrome between management and workers, but tried to change that.

911 Teams supported financially by mill, mill bought first set of strips. Had raffles to fundraise, double tickets where choose number and if came up you would get money for the football club. Golf club had to pay for all outing whereas football more supported.

937 No annual trips. Christmas time you would have a management night out at Caledonian Hotel. They called it the 'Last Supper'.

953 Worked Christmas Day, got September weekend and April weekend off

954 End.


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