Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Robert Craig and Sons

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of Newbattle and Caldercruix and Moffat Mills, Airdrie, Dalkeith, Scotland

By 1851 Robert Craig had incorporated his paper making business as Robert Craig and Sons.

1890 The Craig's Newbattle Mill closed when agreement could not be reached to renew the lease. 300 employees lost their jobs, though some transferred to Craig’s two other mills at Moffat and Caldercruix.

1892 Article [1]


'The following description of Messrs R. Craig & Sons, paper works at Caldercruix and Moffat Mill, near Airdrie, is taken from "The Paper Maker's Circular" for September :—

'The visitor to Caldercruix, is at once struck by the fact that the whole district seems given up to paper making. At the railway station are noticed the siding, and the vans, bearing the name of Robert Craig & Sons, which are waiting to carry Manilas and Blottings to the markets. The large business done makes it well worth while for the North British Railway Company to agree to satisfactory arrangements as to railway rates and modes of transit. Workmen's dwellings are adjacent to the Caldercruix Mill, as is also the Craig Memorial Church, by which the name of the late Mr Craig is to be perpetuated.

At the present time, great improvements are being made in the important matter of filtration and Messrs Blaikie Brothers, Limited, of Aberdeen, have put in a new revolving boiler. This boiler is of an improved type : dimensions are 18' 6" long, 8 feet diameter, of mild steel with cast steel trunnions and door frames, and suitable for a working pressure of 60 lbs. per square inch. The steam inlet trunnion is fitted with an internal pipe having three passages, with wrought iron pipes inside the boiler, and a three ported valve piece outside fitting in the valve chamber, which is arranged to admit steam to the lowest pipe for about one third of a revolution. By having the distribution of the steam effected by an arrangement outside the boiler, it is always accessible for examination and cleaning when necessary. The boiler is fitted with the usual perforated bottom and blow-off cocks, also a perforated diaphragm at the blow-off end to prevent waste of material in the process of boiling, and is constructed throughout in first class style, all the holes being drilled in position, and all rivetting, where practicable, done by hydraulic pressure. The boiler is driven by helical wheel secured to the trunnion flange and a train of gearing.

'The water is from the Hillend Reservoir, the largest artificial reservoir in Scotland, and the water is of excellent quality for paper making purposes. In order to further improve the already snow white velvet blotting, a most elaborate and expensive process of filtration is now being put down and will soon be in operation.

'The mill is driven by a large steam engine of 600 h.p. made by Messrs William and John Yates, of Blackburn, (now Yates & Thom). This engine works most efficiently and it is interesting to note that Messrs Craig, who have a very high opinion of these engines, were the first to introduce them into Scots paper mills.

'Experience at Chirnside and elsewhere, shows how dangerous it is to depend on one steam engine alone; and to prevent the great stoppage caused by a breakdown, it is advisable to have another engine in reserve. This is evidently the opinion of the Caldercruix Paper Makers, who use in addition to the engine just noted the old one, which they formally used at Newbattle. This, which is of 300 h.p., was made by Yates and Thom, 13 years ago, but the larger new engine already referred to is the prototype of that afterwards supplied to Moffat Mill, and also of that at Messrs Cowan's Penicuik Mills, and of a still larger one supplied to Messrs Annandale, for Beltonford, and since unfortunately injured by the disastrous fire at that mill. Each of these engines has a small starting engine, which must be a great advantage over the old system. The arrangement for lubricating these engines is also unique. The firm have a private gas plant of their own, which they manage themselves, entirely independent of any gas company.

'As might be expected in a go-ahead mill, such as Caldercruix, the electric light is used, and is found a great improvement on gas lighting, which renders futile the close examinations of tinted papers.

'The mills are lighted by means of twenty-nine 2,000 c. p. Brush arc Lamps, five 1,000 c. p. arc lamps, and a hundred and thirty 16 c.p. incandescent lamps; the whole of which were fitted up by the Brush Electric Engineering Company, Limited, in 1888. The dynamo machines, are of the "Victoria" D 2 type, driven from beneath by means of counter shafting, by a special engine made by the Airdrie Iron Company, and can also be given [driven] by the main engine should it at any time be required. The 2,000 c.p. Brush arc lamps are used in the beater and machine houses, rag stores, etc., and also outside the mill. Four of the 1,000 c.p. Brush arc lamps are in the mechanics' shops, and the fifth is used as a colour tester at night. The large wood pulp store, size 130 feet by 80 feet is largely under cover, and a railway siding goes through it; close to it may be seen a battery of Lowcock's Fuel Economisers, which work very satisfactorily. More pipes are shortly to be added.

'Five of the boilers were supplied by Yates & Thom, who have done a great deal for these mills, and two by Mr Sinclair, of Leith; and as much as 400 tons of coal per week, are used here alone.

'The rag store is truly enormous, and is believed to be the largest in the world. So far from buying less rags than heretofore, Messrs R. Craig & Sons, are buying an ever increasing-quantity, most of the orders going to Glasgow and Edinburgh houses. Egyptian and Turkish rags, which are of the dirtiest order, are dusted in an outhouse, by the fanning system, similar to that which is used in corn mills. In the rag house are the most elaborate fire appliances, since this is the usual place where fires originate. There have been two fires here, but the outbreaks have been of slight consequence, and have been easily put out.

'Several cutters are in use, including Bentley & Jackson's well known Coburn-Taylor and Nuttall machines, and there are long gangways for running the rags into the store. As the rags arrive, they are hoisted from the vans by a steam crane ; whilst the rag houses are connected with the mill by two iron bridges over the railway siding, which divides the rag department from the mill proper.

'In a second house, the sorted rags are kept ; and stand like the servants of the King and Queen of Hearts. "according to their grades." This arrangement is very convenient for the rapid manufacture of paper, and a special stock of rags is reserved for the blottings. A large stock of boiled rags is always to be found in the rag boiling house, where are three revolving rag and three stationary boilers made by Sinclair, Umpherston and Blaikie respectively. For rag washing, Aitchison's " Malcolm " washer is employed.

'The boaters and breakers supplied by Messrs Bertrams Limited, James Milne & Son, Limited, and Umpherston are ample, amounting to 18 and 10 respectively. The chemical department has large tanks of resin and sizing, and the lime mixing room is remarkably light and roomy. Great attention is paid to economy in bleach, which is lifted by a special hoist. We also notice that new shafting is being arranged for driving the kollergangs ; and that the half stuff, of which several hundred tons are stored, is drawn in small chests through perforated kiln tiles. In the paper machine house there are three paper making machines. The largest, made by J. Milne & Son, is the machine on which the blottinge are made, and has a wire of 77 inches, and has 12 cylinders. It will give an idea of the enormous trade the firm are now doing, when we mention that this large machine is constantly making blotting.

'Another machine made by G. & W. Bertram has a wire of 70 inches, and is used exclusively for Manilla, label, and other strong paper for which Caldercruix have a very old and world-wide reputation. The third machine by James Milne & Son, is the Yankee for making glazed one side papers, better known in the trade by Messrs Craig's original designation of M.G. papers.

'In the calender and cutting house are three super-calendering and friction glazers, made by Mr James Parrot, of Salford, with three revolving cutters and two ripping machines. Next is the paper storehouse. Here may be seen the largest stock of blottings in the world. These include the excellent " velvet" blottings which we noticed a few months ago. These were originally only white, but many other colours have since been adopted. The latest favourite is of a heliotrope shade, in the manufacture of which, however, no colouring matter is used. As regards the quality of the papers, which even Americans admit to be unequalled, we still think that it is a defect, that when we have blotted a letter, other people should read of our private affairs on the blotting paper. We hope, therefore, that Messrs Craig may succeed in removing this defect. Then indeed the Caldercruix blottings will be perfection.

'The demand is very much on the increase, the blottings which have secured the patronage of Queen Victoria, being stocked by nearly every important firm of wholesale stationers in London and the provinces. The motto of the " Velvet " speciality, is "why spoil a well-written letter by using bad blotting paper!" is now well-known in the United States, where Mr Wildridge recently had a most successful journey and where a large quantity of the paper is imported in spite of the heavy 33 per cent. duty. ..... [much about blotting paper] ....

'In the store house are a large stock of dandy rolls hailing from Stoke Newington, and bearing some of the best known water marks in the trade. The remaining rooms of the mills are the salle, which is lighted very well by means of windows on the top of it as well at the sides, and the laboratory where paper testing is carried on. The salle is pentagonal in shape, and contains one of Greig's cutting, and one of Wood's weighing machines. The paper is shot out from the salle on to the trucks on the siding.

'The Moffat Paper Mill is very close to Caldercruix, being only four miles off. The driving is accomplished by an immense 800 h.p. steam engine, manufactured by Yates & Thom of Blackburn, who are specialists in this matter, and have given much thought to the perfecting of these engines. Behind the engine is a large condenser, and in conjunction with it, as at the other paper mill, is a starting engine.

'The Moffat Mill also lighted by electricity, the installation, which is of the Thomson-Houston system, having recently been completed by Mr R. Miller of Glasgow, who has had considerable experience in the lighting of mills. Messrs Craig's installation consists of a Thomson-Houston Arclight dynamo, with 35 Thomson-Houston double carbons, 10 ampere arc lamps in series, and an incandescent dynamo with 115 16 c.p incandescent lamps.

'The arc temps light all the large rooms, and the incandescent, are for passages, offices, and dark places, such as under mills, where so powerful a light as an arc lamp is not required. The arc lamps give practically the conditions of day light, and allow colours to be easily compared, and matched at night.

'The series system of arc lighting has been adopted as it is the most economical both in power used and cost of carbons. With the series system there is no wasteful dead resistance required for each arc lamp, and the carbons cost less than one third of three required with the parallel system.

'All the rags bought by Messrs Craig are received at Caldereruix, for the two mills. Those required for Moffat are sorted, cut and dusted, and then transferred along the railway in trucks. A considerable portion of the mill has a very fine roofing, which was used for the Edinburgh Exhibition. The raw material store is of immense dimensions and a siding runs through the centre of it.

'The beater house, which comprises the whole of the old mill, has beaters by Milne and other engineers, and the boiler house has boilers by Blaikie and Sinclair. Above this is the rosin store, close to which are placed three revolving boilers. In the breaker house are six breakers and six hosiers of the ordinary style. In the machine house, we note that both the paper making machines were manufactured by Messrs Bertrams, Limited. One has a wire 88 wide and 4 feet drying cylinders while the other has a wire 70 wide with drying cylinders. At No. 1 machine is used one of Fanning's patent resolving doctors, which was manufactured at Duren.

'The Calender house is very spacious, and is exceptionally well stored with requisite machinery. Here is one of C. G. Haubold's famous eight rolled calendere, one of Parrott's friction glazing calenders, an eight rolled glazing calendar, put in by Bertnms, Limited, and three embossing calendars, which the Chemnitz Worke have also supplied. Here too, are three revolving cutters, two front the Sciennes and one from Abbeyhill, and two ripping machines for wall paper, from Bertrams, Limited, and James Bertrams & Son.

'Adjoining this room, a new house, large and light, has been erected for the reception of the Mammoth calender, which is the piece de resistance of the Moffat Paper Mill. This immense machine, which is 20 foot in height by 18 feet in breadth, has ten rolls, and was put in a few weeks ago by Messrs Joseph Eck & Sons of Dusseldorf Machinery Works, Germany, who hope to secure further orders from other mills for similar machines. Than the appearance of this calender, no better testimonial could be furnished. Like the circulation of various daily papers, this calendar is "the largest in the world." At present it gives complete satisfaction and is used for glazing the fine series of " Academy " and " Rustic" tints, which are a specialty of the mills. It gives a first-rate glossy surface, and can also be used for friction or supercalendering purposes. The frames and rolls of this calendar have been constructed so as to withstand a working pressure of 50 tons on one end of the top roll, and the reeling apparatus has brakes on both sides. The chilled rolls, to which doctors have been fitted on, have been bored out and effectually plugged at the back.

'The maximum speed of the calender is from 230 to 300 feet per minute when rolling.

'The "Mammoth" extender is driven by an engine supplied by Messrs Herbert & Co. At its side is an iron staircase, leading to a platform in front.

'The " Academy " and " Rustic " tints which are very numerous are of great variety in colour. The only tints to equal them are the crêpe and crinkled tissues made by the Cromptons, an entirely different kind of paper.

'As at Caldercruix, there is an engineering shop and a laboratory, and the mills are connected with one another by telephonic communication. The present output of Caldercruix is about 90 tons weekly, and at Moffat 80, whereas 50 tons was the average output at Newbattle.

'For the sale of papers, Messrs Craig have a warehouse in New Brown Street, Manchester, and are represented in London by the well known firm of Frank Green Co., who do a big trade in the velvet blotting', and others.

'It will thus be seen that since the exodus from Newbattle, enormous improvements have been made in every respect, which show that the old firm of Robert Craig & Sons are likely to ensure in the future an even greater run of success than in the past.'

1898 Incorporated as a private limited company.

1914 Paper manufacturers. Specialities: blotting papers and coloured papers, "Velvet" and "Spongia" blottings. Employees 800 to 900. [2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Dalkeith Advertiser, 6 October 1892
  2. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  • [1] Penicuik papermaking