John Hamilton


2003/9, John Hamilton interviewed in his own home in Edinburgh by Sarah Bromage on 24/2/2003

John Hamilton worked as a beaterman at Mossy mill between 1957 and 1959

000 No such thing as Health and Safety provision in mills. No large accidents as people learned to protect themselves. No large guarding of machines. Mill governed under Mills and quarries act which took in mills. Crude safety measures.

041 First aid kits, not sure who would be trained in health and safety.

050 James MacDougall manager would check in the middle of the night to see that you did not sleep. When waiting for the beaters could take a break as and when. Had to watch the machine all of the time.

077 No fires or flood. Well enough situated. All buildings random built natural stone. Long building to accommodate the process.

113 Processes the paper goes through. Building 200 yards long. Huge storage place for scrap paper. Paper ready, did not wait long. Only if there was a slack period would make paper for stock. Mill a narrow site, 5 drums width (15ft machine, building 60 ft wide). Road difficult to get in for lorries, impossible in bad weather.

196 2 people in each department, 20 people in total. Electricians would be brought in and the joiner James Hewitt and Sons did all the work on a sub contractor basis.

212 No annual trip, mill wouldn't do anything for you. Good labourers wage. No contact with managers. Managers would go round checking on things. Mr MacDougall would tip his hat, never spoke.

236 Left mill because too hard work. Paid on Friday night, weekly money into a brown paper bag. Manager would come round at change of shifts.

256 No socialising after work. Not all that friendly out of work.

270 Strict on punctuality. Papermaking could not start without the beatermen.

279 2 hours for a roll of paper to be made. Processes. Involving cutting it took 3 hours to make paper from scratch.

295 Lapin wrapping paper. Didn't make high quality paper. Changes in management. Mr MacDougall died and James MacDougall took over. Malcolm MacDougall took over day to day running of the mill with little or no effect. Tried to make printing higher quality. Paper machine not up to job. Always experimenting and always wore a suit. Not sure what his background was.

338 Mill did not close for Mr MacDougall's funeral. James took over the big house. Straw paper at 120 revs per minute.

354 Malcolm more hands on. Wanted to change the industry.

364 Mills on the Water of Leith. Rumours that Balerno was closing, stopped making rice paper. Serious drop in the industry. People were worried about their jobs.

379 Not worried about his job. Had no intention of being there very long

391 End.

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