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​​​​ Chemical IndustriesBleaching and Dyeing  | Paper Making - Blackburn | Paper Making - Darwen 
Star Paper Mill | Wallpaper Making in Darwen | Paint Making | Wallpaper Making in Darwen | Walpamur (Crown Paints)​ | The Darwen Paper Company Limited 
 Paper Mill Mania around Darwen and Blackburn in the 1870s | The Withnell Paper Company Limited. 1874 to 1877 |
The Foundations of the Roddlesworth Paper Mills, Star Paper Mill, Feniscowles Paper Mill and Sun Paper Companies Ltd.


Chemical Industries

 
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 The production of chemicals in nineteenth century Blackburn was closely related to textiles, and many of the minor manufacturing chemists were concerned with the supply of mordants, dyes, tallow, oils, greases and tapers' size to the local cotton industry. Tar distillation and the production of liquid ammonia was also undertaken. A number of the smaller workshops were located at Livesey, close to the firebrick works, and were operated by members of the Brothers family and their partners. Various firms; including the Sizeoline Company of John Slater, later used the site until its demolition in the late 1930's.
 
Larger businesses took over existing buildings, as with Adley, Tolkein & Company, size makers, at the former spinning block of Rockcliffe Mill, Cupal Limited, of Phoenix Mill, King Street, and T. A. Ward, now operating from a former merchant's house in King Street. The latter two companies are both involved in the manufacture of pharmacuticals. Many of the firms originally established to service the textile industry went out of business during the 1930's, although two, Blackburn Products Limited and Joseph Davies, both tallow refiners, have survived by diversifying into different fields.
 
by Mike Rothwell
 

Bleaching and Dyeing ​​

 
 
Both these processes were vital to the textile industry and both were well represented in the town, notably William Barnes of Whitebirk and Hodgson and Taylor on the bleaching side, and J Holroyd and Co of Preston New Road and Johnson Brothers of King Street on the dyeing side.
 

Paper Making - Black​burn 

 
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Paper making was introduced to Blackburn during the last half of the nineteenth century, influenced by the success of similar ventures in neighbouring Darwen, and as a result of the efforts of local industrial cooperation.  The larger paper mills were sited on the outskirts of Blackburn proper to take advantage of reasonably pure supplies of water, in addition to securing sufficient land for future growth.  In the case of the two Feniscowles mills the proximity of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal provided an added attraction.  Although there have been occasional changes of ownership the Blackburn paper mills have maintained steady production and remain an important employer in the town.
 
The basic design of the mills is linear with raw materials stored at one end and finished paper despatched at the other.  The production method gave rise to a characteristic line of sheds, long machine houses and warehouses, often constructed along the floor of a river valley. This plan form can be seen in the three major mills of Blackburn, even though many of the buildings have been reconstructed since the nineteenth century.
 
by Mike Rothwell
 

Paper Making -  D​arwen

 
 
 
 
There have been Paper Mills in Darwen since the 1820s.  This began at Darwen Old Paper Mill in around 1826 as a small-scale, family-run concern.  Richard Hilton began making paper as an expansion of his bleaching business.  He and his sons later diversified into making different types of paper including tissue and lining papers in the 1830s.  Papermaking required huge amounts of water and was usually supplied by local rivers and reservoirs.  Darwen's location and climate made it ideal territory for making paper, just as it was ideal for the textile industry.  In the case of Darwen Old Paper Mill for example, the River Darwen and Jack’s Key Reservoir would have supplied water.
 
Papermaking is a fairly labour intensive process with many different processes.  Associated trades sprang up in Darwen including bleaching and dyeing works and wallpaper making.  There were mills in Darwen that made wallpaper, indeed there still are but the mills in Darwen also made other types of paper.  Mills produced paper such as newsprint, tissue, coloured and enamel papers, linings, brown paper and wallpaper base paper.  The raw materials required for papermaking were originally rags and esparto (a rough grass from Spain and North Africa needed to make fine quality paper).  Today papers are mostly made from either wood pulp or synthetic pulp.  Only very fine 'hand-made' papers are today made from rags.  Collins Paper Mill in Darwen mainly produced brown paper made from rags whilst Grimshaw Bridge Paper Mill produced cap and biscuit papers.  Mills then were powered mainly by water wheels and horizontal engines. 
 
Many people were employed in the paper making industry.  Hollins Paper Mill employed over 250 people.  It was considered to be one of Darwen's staple trades and even today people in Darwen are still employed to make paper and wallcoverings for the rest of the world.

by Rachael Spencer
 
  

​ Star Paper Mill

 
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The former Star Paper Mill, Feniscowles, closed on the 12th November 2008 after more than a century of paper making.It opened in 1875 replacing the earlier Roddlesworth Paper Mill at Abbey Village which was built in 1845.The machines from Roddlesworth were transferred to the new site.

W and J Yates (later Foster, Yates and Thom) supplied a pair of compound tandem engines and production began. Two paper machines were operational by 1878.
Extensions in 1881-3 allowed for a further Yates tandem horizontal engine and an additional paper machine. Two more paper machines were installed in 1887 and 1893. The latter was 143" wide and reputed to be the the largest in the UK. The paper machines had their own individual enclosed steam engines.
From the 1880's electricity was produced on site to light the works.

The original raw materials were rags, esparto grass and straw, with wood pulp being introduced in the 1890's. Raw materials and coal were transported from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal by two tramroads using endless wire ropes.
Products included newsprint, wallpapers (after 1897), cartridge and packing papers.
 
 
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By 1906 there were six paper machines. In 1905-6 a modernisation of the power plant took place, which included new boiler and engine houses.

A further modernisation took place in the 1920's when a new paper machine by Walmsleys of Bury was installed to replace one of the 19th century units.
 
In 1930 the mill was taken over by Kymmene Aktibolag of Finland who also bought Barnsley Paper Mill in Yorkshire. They owned Star until it was taken over in 1990 by Sappi, South Africa who owned it until the closure.They also took over paper mills in other areas.
 
From the 1930's, the mill was heavily involved with the production of quality and art papers for the printing, advertising and packaging trades. It was a major producer of cast coated board and paper.
In 2003 record net production was announced averaging 375.3 tonnes per day.

In 2005 Sappi, as the market leader put up prices and as nobody else followed suit, significant market share was lost to the whole group, and machine capacity utilisation dropped, from which it never really recovered.
 
 
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Star Paper Company built a nu​mber of terraced houses at East Street, off Preston Old Road, where the majority of residents were employed in the paper industry. Looking at the 1891 Census, it is interesting to see that many of them have moved into Livesey from quite far afield.There must have been plenty of job opportunities for them in the paper industry. Do any descendents of these workers still live in Feniscowles?
 
 
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If you worked at Star, were a "Star Baby" or live in the area and have memories of the Mill, we would love to hear from you.
 
Blackburn with Darwen Library and Information Service, in conjunction with the Lancashire Record Office and Blackburn Museum ran a community archives project with material which was donated when Star closed. This included hundreds of unidentified photographs of people, machines and industrial processes. We enlisted the help of former employees and members of the Feniscowles and Livesey communities to identify and catalogue the archives.We also recorded people's reminiscences of Star. Livesey Library was used as a base for the project We  obtained funding for the project from the South West Neighbourhood Board.
 
If you have any Star memorabilia you would like to loan or donate, email the Community History Department at library​@blackburn.gov.uk or call 01254 587919
 
The collection of material can be viewed at Lancashire Archives​
 
 ​
Lorry.jpg    Engine.jpg


The photographs on this page show what we are up against! Most of them have no details or dates. We need your help please!
 
 
 
 

 W​allpaper Making in Darwen


 

 
 
 There have been Paper Mills in Darwen since the 1820s.  This began at Darwen Old Paper Mill in around 1826 as a small-scale, family-run concern.  Richard Hilton began making paper as an expansion of his bleaching business.  He and his sons later diversified into making different types of paper including tissue and lining papers in the 1830s.  Papermaking required huge amounts of water and was usually supplied by local rivers and reservoirs.  Darwen's location and climate made it ideal territory for making paper, just as it was ideal for the textile industry.  In the case of Darwen Old Paper Mill for example, the River Darwen and Jack’s Key Reservoir would have supplied water.
 
Papermaking is a fairly labour intensive process with many different processes.  Associated trades sprang up in Darwen including bleaching and dyeing works and wallpaper making.  There were mills in Darwen that made wallpaper, indeed there still are but the mills in Darwen also made other types of paper.  Mills produced paper such as newsprint, tissue, coloured and enamel papers, linings, brown paper and wallpaper base paper.  The raw materials required for papermaking were originally rags and esparto (a rough grass from Spain and North Africa needed to make fine quality paper).  Today papers are mostly made from either wood pulp or synthetic pulp.  Only very fine 'hand-made' papers are today made from rags.  Collins Paper Mill in Darwen mainly produced brown paper made from rags whilst Grimshaw Bridge Paper Mill produced cap and biscuit papers.  Mills then were powered mainly by water wheels and horizontal engines. 
 
Many people were employed in the paper making industry.  Hollins Paper Mill employed over 250 people.  It was considered to be one of Darwen's staple trades and even today people in Darwen are still employed to make paper and wallcoverings for the rest of the world.
 
By Rachael Spencer
 

 

 
 ​
Charles and Harold Potter took over Hilton's Paper Mills, the largest paper making works in the world, in 1844.  In 1864 James Huntington, a designer for paper stainers and calico printers, joined the company at the Belgrave Mills.  In 1853 Belgrave Mill was burnt out and a few years later the Hollins Paper Mill was rebuilt and enlarged.  It was there that a laboratory was set up to try and make a reliable water paint.
 
Paint manufacture commenced in August 1906 and 'Hollins Distemper' was transferred twice daily by horse-drawn wagon to Darwen Station.  By 1910 the company was employing six men to travel the country exclusively selling paint.  By now it was know as WalPaMur after the initials of  'The Wall Paper Manufacturers' Company.  In the same year depots were set up in other parts of the country to ease the pressure on the Darwen factory and speed up distribution.  In the same year too the manufacture of oil based paint commenced.
 
In 1929 the Company took over the paint-making plant of Arthur Sanderson & Sons in London.  This was developed into a branch factory to serve the South of England.  Expansion in Darwen was achieved when Peel Mill and Cobden Mill were acquired.  In 1933 the Walpamur Company (Ireland) was formed in Dublin.
 
During World War Two Walpamur was engaged on war work producing special paints and dope for aircraft.  They were asked to produce 90,000 gallons of white paint for the D-Day landings of 1944.  All Allied aircraft had to be painted with white stripes.  30,000 gallons were produced in a week and transported from the factory in a fleet of US Army lorries.
 

 

 

 Wallpaper Making in Darwe​n

 
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Wallpaper was originally made by pasting together sheets of paper into a roll 11 metres long, only a simple block-press was required.  English wallpaper manufacture had begun in Tudor times and had excelled in quality and technical perfection.  By the beginning of the 19th century however French producers were becoming more successful.  England's manufacturers were constrained by paper duties imposed by the excise authorities.  When these were lifted the industry was stimulated to try new techniques.
 
Machinery to print on calico cloth was already in use.  One of its pioneers was James Greenway who built Dob Meadow Print Works in Darwen in 1808.  It was Charles Potter, son of James's son-in-law, who adapted the principles of calico printing to wallpaper production.  By 1839 Charles, with the help of his brother Harold, had perfected the technique and patents were applied for.  By 1840 Potters had taken over Belgrave Mills and used a part of it for wallpaper production.
 
At the Great Exhibition of 1851 Potters displayed their wallpapers, some printed in 16 colours.  In 1860 William Balle Huntington became associated with the firm, representing them in Paris.  In 1867 an exhibition was held in Paris, Potters wallpapers were featured there and won a Gold Medal.  It was perhaps the firm's finest hour. 


 

 The Darwen Paper Company Limited ​​

Although the East Lancashire Paper Mill, established in Radcliffe in 1861 was the first paper mill incorporation in the United Kingdom, it was ten years later the business that created much of the momentum for later incorporations in Lancashire, namely the Darwen Paper Company (DPC) was founded. It was the apparent ease with which men with little experience achieved a business maintaining outstanding dividends and an appreciating share price which encouraged other paper mill incorporations.

It was DPC director William Taylor, a co-operative employee; probably a lowly serving assistant in the grocery department of the Over Darwen Co-operative Society shop when it was founded that recounted the crucial part he played in the foundation> Explaining that one Saturday night in November 1870, he was chatting about business opportunities with ardent Darwen co-operators and fellow employees Joseph Kay and Thomas Shorrock. After discussions they decided to send a deputation to Oldham to see ‘what was being done their by working men for their own elevation in the social scale.

On arrival in Oldham they went to see Mr Morecroft the so called ‘apostle of co-operation joint stock enterprise’, who advised them to start some sort of manufacturing business that was best understood in Darwen and to invest all the spare capital as far as practical. These three accepted that as far as company foundations were concerned their town was far behind Oldham, but vowed this would change. They agreed to hold a meeting at the conversation room of the co-operative store the following night, and to ask a few members of the store who they thought would be favourable to the commencement of some sort of manufacturing enterprise to attend. With paper making being well established in the area the meeting concluded by agreeing to commence a brown paper mill and true to their words on 10 February 1871, the Darwen Paper Company Ltd. was incorporated and shortly afterwards the company purchased 3 acres of redundant land at 11/2d per yard for a riverside site in Darwen.

Blaming the earlier failure of an unknown paper company for the resistance of potential investors to take up shares, gaining funding was not easy. When the sale of shares seeming to be failing it was Taylor, Kay and Shorrock who successfully approached the co-operative movement for funding, persuading them that despite paying dividends to individual shareholders their venture somehow maintained egalitarian co-operative ideals. Eventually all the shares were placed, the mill was completed within budget with the first paper being produced in June 1872. Largely because of its sale of brown wrapping paper to the co-operative movement the company was immediately profitable and a dividend of 20% or more was declared for the next three years. Although providing excellent returns, in a co-operative movement where ethics played as important a role as economics, not all members agreed with business links between co-operation and a public limited company. While not disputing that the DPC paid a good return on the substantial shares purchased by the movement, they argued this mill was not managed to co-operative philosophy where profits should be between a co-operative run business and their co-operative society customers. 

Many were flabbergasted by the apparent ease by which DPC became successful, and without fully appreciating its privileged position with the cooperative movement, they assumed that it must be easy for all newcomers to achieve similar success. Yet only a matter of 3 years after the DPC’s foundation the investment bubble had burst and it was the failure of both the newcomers and privately owned paper mills that was being reported, but due an unwelcomed intervention by Taylor and his friends the DPC future was assured, but this was due to egocentric motives rather than egalitarian ideals, when by virtual blackmail they forced the company to agree to an extension. 

Taylor, supported by two of his fellow DPC directors, had already leased land adjacent to the mill and offered it sale to their company to facilitate expansion and offered it to the company, with two options. If the offer was turned down these three would themselves set up a new paper manufacturing company on the site, but if the DPC board accept their plan then these three would be allowed to purchase a portion of a new share issue that would be raised to pay for the extension. It was the second option which prevailed and true to their word the three promoters took up 1,500 of the new shares and perhaps with more relish than might be expected the other directors also bought additional shares. As a result the company’s share capital increased to £60,000, although only £47,000 was ever called up. Building operations commenced in 1875 and by 1879 three new paper machines were producing news-print. It was due to the costs involved in fitting out the mill and the lack of production that dividends dried up for a while, but by 1878 the company was again paying dividends and its long term future was now secure.

Taylor and his friends went on to found numerous other limited companies in a range of industries, all largely unsuccessful, but the DPC future was assured well into the twentieth century.
Dividends Paid by the Darwen Paper Company: 1872-1910

 
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Article by Mike Malley

 
Introduction
The earliest paper mill operating in Darwen is noted as being in the 1820’s and, by the mid nineteenth century, paper making was well established in the town; with wallpaper, for which the town was later to become particularly associated, being manufactured from 1840. However, it was in a period of less than five years in the 1870’s that Blackburn and Darwen played a pivotal role in an increase in the numbers of paper mills in the North West of England that was not justified by an increase in the demand for paper. Rather limited paper company incorporations and its associated share speculation gripped the region as many an unwary investor failed to see the inevitable pitfalls. 

This article will relate the stories behind some of these the foundation as limited liability paper mills and is based upon the booklet, The Illusive Silver Lining, written by the author, a number of copies are held by the Blackburn Central Library.

Background
Prior to limited liability legislation of the mid 1850’s, in the event of bankruptcy business owners were responsible for full payment of losses to creditors, but the new legislation capped payments only to the value of its assets. Such limited liability incorporations enabled the owners, i.e. the shareholders, to delegate the day to day management of the business to the company’s directors. The shareholders eligibility as part owners of the company was expressed in share certificates that might be transferred to others at a price, but while retained entitled the owner to a portion of the company’s income in the form of dividends. In many ways the price placed on shares was a measure of confidence in the business and was related to the level of dividends paid. In the event that the company became bankrupt, shareholders invariably lost their entire investment, while creditors such as banks, building clubs (the forerunners of building societies), lenders and equipment suppliers were unlikely to be paid in full. 

The rail mania in the United Kingdom is well documented, when in the later 1840s limited liability railway companies were founded in an irrational, mania of speculative frenzy. Following a common pattern in the grip of the mania, rising share prices increased confidence and led to yet more foundations, however, when the investment bubble burst, companies collapsed and shares become worthless. A smaller scale mania for founding paper mills in the North West of England occurred in the 1870’s, when despite little increased demand for paper more than thirty mills opted for limited status in only 4 years (Table 1). 
 

Not only were more than half of the mills located within a 15 mile radius of Darwen/Blackburn, even new paper mills located in Leicestershire, Cumberland and Yorkshire were funded and managed by persons from within that conurbation. The simplest advertisement in a newspaper or a personal recommendation could excite a frenzy of speculation and even a mill as far away as Northern Ireland had its registered office in Darwen and its share list filled by ‘Darreners’. Most foundations were typified by a frenzy of investment by ‘it can’t fail’ investors, encouraged by shady speculators with selfish motives prepared to stoop to illegal acts to sell shares. Perhaps surprisingly this included many company directors, done so that they could benefit by an immediate sale of their shares at a premium over the purchase price.

Most of these new companies were paper mills converted from some other use (such as printing, dying, spinning or weaving mills) or were newly built on green-field sites, but a small number were already in operation as privately owned paper mills. A minority of incorporations restricted shares to a tiny number of wealthy individuals, but more prevalent was the situation where although the company directors held large share portions, they issued the remainder on a first-come first-served basis. Although a few of the working class were represented as shareholders, it was Lancashire’s Industrialist and its businesspeople that topped the share ownership lists and many weren’t shy of quickly selling shares to make a profit.

Due to intense competition created by the newcomers there was an ongoing need for investment to keep ahead of rivals, but as a trade depression took hold from the mid 1876 onwards, dividends and confidence dried-up, and it was both established private and new limited paper mills that were bankrupted. Some were resurrected under a different name with new management and with new share equity and borrowings, but failed again. Others continued as they were formed with little new capital for a few years without much success, while those that prospered could be differentiated by having forward thinking managers who were  making large and ongoing investment. The stories of the foundations of some of newcomers shown below will now follow.

Limited Liability Paper Mill Companies connected to Lancashire (founded 1860-1875)

 

​No​.
​​Company Name
Location (approx)​Incorporated​Year Totals​
1​
East Lancashire​​​Bury
March 1860​1​
​2
Darwen​​Darwen
February1871​​1
​3
​Ramsbottom
Darwen/Blackburn​April 1872​
​4
Grimshaw​​Darwen
​August 1872
2​
​5
​Feniscowles
Darwen/Blackburn​September 1873​
​6
Furness​Ulverston​November 1873​2​
​7
​Rishton
Blackburn​February 1874​
​8
Roddlesworth​Darwen/Blackburn​March1874​
9​North of England​Stalybridge​May 1874​
​10
Deeply Vale​Bury​June 1874​
​11
​Brookside
​Accrington
​July 1874
​12
​Withnell
​​Darwen/Blackburn
August 1874​​6
​13
​Knott Mill
​Darwen
January 1875​
​14
White Ash​Oswaldtwistle​February 1875​
​15
Rochdale​Rochdale​February 1875​
​16
​Collins
Darwen​February 1875​
​17
​Anstey
Leicester​March 1875​
​18
Star​Darwen/Blackburn​March 1875​
​19
Samlesbury​Preston​March 1875​
​20
​Church
Oswaldtwistle​March 1875​
​21
Roach Bridge​Preston​March 1875​
22​Marron​Whitehaven​April 1875​
​23
​Bury (Giggs)
​Bury
December 1875​
​24
Catterall​Preston​April 1875​
​25
​Chapel Town
Bolton​April 1875​
​26
Heap Bridge​Bolton​​May 1875
​27
​Boothwood
Ripponden​June 1875​
​28
​Broughton Bridge
Manchester​July 1875​
29​Burnley​Burnley​April 1875​
30​Hyde​Stockport​​​August 1875
​​​31
​Scotshaw Brook​
​Darwen
​January 1875
​19
​Total
​31

​Article by Mike Malley

 

The Withnell Paper Company Limited. 1874 to 1877​​

​This limited paper company was registered on the tenth of August 1874. The mill was built on the River Roddlesworth about 750m north-east of Abbey Village, Chorley and the remains of the mill are now beneath the Abbey Reservoir. It had no connection with the longer lived Withnell Fold paper mill.

 
Founded with a share capital of £25,000, the directors of the company at its foundation were:​
​​Director
Abode​
​Occupation
​Job Kay
​Darwen​
​Coal Agent
​Andrew Townley
​​Darwen
​Clog Iron Maker
​Thomas Beresford
​Darwen
​Paper Manufacturer
​James Lomax
​​Darwen
​Coal Merchant
​John Lord
​Darwen
​Shoe Maker
​Thomas Kay
​Darwen
​Paper Manufacturer
​Thomas Duxbury
​​Darwen
​Paper Manufacturer

 
Founded with the purpose of ‘ Erecting a Paper Mill at Withnell midway between Blackburn and Chorley, and carrying on the business of Paper Making in all its branches’, the directors noted in its published prospectus, that the site was situated ‘400 yards from Withnell Railway Station’; this is a slight exaggeration as its nearer to  700 yards.  Although the site looks isolated today, it was close to the now defunct Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, making railway sidin​gs alongside the mill a possibility.  A month after Incorporation the management were advertising for tenders to erect the new paper mill, to be received by Job. Kay, Company Secretary, by 28 September 1874. Nine months later in June 1875 it was reported that the new mill was to have two 72 inch paper making machines manufactured by Redfern and Smith, Bury; although later evidence suggest a single 112 inch machine and the following month a vacancy was being advertised for an ‘active Practical Manager’ .  

 
Showing a certain amount of optimism for the company in January 1876 its share price was quoted at a premium of two shillings, but things were to sour very quickly. By November 1876 Withnell had sold only 2,012 of its 10,000 shares, raising £5,156 of its proposed £25,000 share capital, this would have been insufficient to build and equip a paper mill and so additional borrowing would be required.

 
In August 1876 it was reported that the mill was within six weeks of operation and it would have one machine running, yet this optimism came to nought as by August 1877 and probably even before paper was produced in earnest, the mill was out of operation.   Disastrously for all its investors by 22 September 1877 it was being voluntarily wound-up, as its chairman announced that the company ‘cannot, by reason of its liabilities, continue its business’.  The reason for its demise confirms that its experienced paper manufacturing directors Beresford, Kay and Duxbury had failed abysmally, as a downstream paper mill threatened to take legal action due to pollution of the river. The reason why the mill failed is detailed in what at first glance may be an unlikely source, the Co-operative News. However, given the circumstances this publication becomes a very reliable source because it was the Co-operative Wholesale Society, which acted as its bank and that had provided the company with substantial funds and in 1877 they were owed over £6,000 and foreclosed on the mortgage. The members of the Co-operative movement were unhappy with these events and the even larger amounts owed by other limited companies. In detailing the reasons for the Withnell’s demise and subsequent losses, a Co-operative spokesman confirmed it was ‘another mill about a mile off’ which had started before Withnell which was the complainant in a legal suit.   The newspaper noted that before Withnell was completed an Act of Parliament was passed which referenced water rights and in particular discolouring of water, which Withnell had contravened.  In the last throw of the dice, in January 1877 the Withnell directors approached the Clitheroe paper maker John Carlisle, for a mortgage of £8,000.  He noted ‘Being crippled for means and unable to raise money by Shares the Directors applied to me’, but negotiations failed and the mill was out of operation by August 1877. Without the funds to install a new effluent plant and in the certain knowledge that the other paper mill company would commence legal action, no one was prepared to purchase the mill from the mortgagee and the Withnell Paper Company Ltd collapsed and the mill was sold in 1882. The buyer was the Star Paper Company, who was previously threatening the Withnell company with legal action, they soon removed the papermaking equipment, including the 112” machine. The Wholesale Society only received £400 to cover its £6,000 plus debt. 
 
The Reason for the Demise
I previously identified a mania for founding limited liability paper manufacturing companies in Lancashire in the mid 1870’s, when twenty five were incorporated in a twenty month period from 1873 to 1875.   These  ‘mania-mills’ were not founded due to any commensurate increase in paper use, rather it was the relatively new limited company legislation that was being used and in many cases manipulated, to produce a helter-skelter of paper manufacturing company foundations, many with connections to Darwen. The foundation of the mania-mills required promoters, that is the dynamic individuals whose actions resulted in the new company being founded, which was mainly its directors and on many occasions it was the same individuals who were in many concerns. For example, Withnell directors Job Kay and Thomas Beresford had four directorships each, Thomas Kay had three, and Thomas Duxbury had two. On many occasions it was these ‘serial directors’ who were quick to sell their shares to achieve a profit and the more directorships they had the more profits they made. Yet the opportunity for share sale profits was short and with disingenuous directors, intense competition, a now depressed economy and with a loss of business confidence, many a paper mill simply ran out of money.

 
Withnell was one of the most unsuccessful of all the mania-mills, it got embroiled in potentially expensive legal action due to an effluent problem with the downstream Star mill, it could not raise additional capital and when an economic depression took hold investors lost confidence. As a result it operated for less than six months and was unlikely to be running for more than a few days at a stretch and of course, its investors lost considerable amounts of money.

 
Postscript
The late local historian James Stevens, records that a Roddlesworth Paper Mill was built in 1845, he also identifies that the foundation work of this mill could ‘be seen when the waters of the present reservoir are very low’.   

 
I have been unable to verify a paper mill was built anywhere in the neighbourhood before this mill. However, I can confirm that the foundations are those of Withnell paper mill, which was built from new between 1874 and 1875. A map of the reservoir is included in the Star company archives, it shows that the former Withnell mill was to be flooded, but strangely the mill, which was two storey and about 70 feet by 170 feet in plan, was not demolished.   A photograph of the mill, included in a 1907 article about the Star mill, shows it standing forlorn in several foot of water, a failure personified. 

 
This article is a shortened version of ‘Five Paper Company Foundations on the River Roddlesworth’, Darwen. 1873 to 1882. Which will be published shortly by The British Association of Paper Historians, in its Quarterly Magazine.

Resources
1 Preston Herald , 29 Aug 1874, p.1 
2 BLNL. Paper Makers Circular, July 15 1875.
3 BLNL. Paper Makers Circular, August  1876
4 The London Gazette, September 28 1877, Issue:24507, p5430
5 Co-operative Union Library Manchester (hereafter CUL) The Co-Operative News, June 25 1881, p.426 c.3
6 Lancashire Record Office (hereafter LRO). DDX 54/96
7 CUL. The Co-operative News, June 25 1881, p.423 c.2
8 Malley M, The Illusive Silver Lining: The Rise and Fall of the Lancashire Limited Paper Companies, Volume 11 of The British Association of Paper Historians Monograph, 2017
9 James Stevens, A century of Papermaking in the Roddlesworth Valley, privately published, 2008. Stevens who died in 1957, was an employee at the Star Mill.
​10 LRO. DDFD/11/291, The Star Archives are not yet fully catalogued
11 Paper Maker and British Paper Trade Journal, Vol XXXIV, 1907 p23 and https://jepnet.co.uk/genealogy/Star%20mill/star%20mill.pdf​ 

 
Mike Malley, February 2020
 

 The Foundations of the Roddlesworth Paper Mills, Star Paper Mill, Feniscowles Paper Mill and Sun Paper Companies Ltd. 1874 to 1882.​


The River Roddlesworth is less than 10 miles long including a number of small feeder streams. It rises south of Blackburn and West of Darwen, following a northerly direction it passes under the M65 east of junction 3 and under the Leeds Liverpool Canal before joining the River Darwen not far from Ewood Park, the stadium of Blackburn Rovers FC. 

I previously described the foundation of the Withnell Paper Company Ltd, which was the most southerly of the five paper companies sited on the River Roddlesworth. The Roddlesworth Paper Mills Company and its successor the Star Paper Company occupied the next mill site downstream, while the Feniscowles Paper Mill Company Ltd and its successor the Sun Paper Company Ltd, were the most northerly.

Roddlesworth Paper Mills Company Ltd
Incorporated 14 March 1874 with £30,000 share capital 
The directors and shareholding at foundation were:

​Josia Gregson
​Over Darwen
​Cotton Manufacturer
​300
Tim Lightbown
​Lower Darwen
​Cotton Manufacturer
​200
​Henry Lightbown
​Pendleton
​Paper Stainer
​200
James Lightbown
​Salford
​Paper Stainer
​150
Roger Lightbown
​Over Darwen
​Cotton Manufacturer
​50
​James Longton
​Over Darwen
​Manager of Paper Works
​100

Directors In bold hold directorship in other paper mills cited on the River Roddlesworth

The company’s aim was ‘acquisition of land to erect works for manufacture of paper or the purchase of works and building already erected for the purpose’.1  This company’s directors did not issue all the company’s shares as by February 1875 only 1,300 shares had been taken up, all of which had been issued to the directors. With four pounds per share having been called-up its share capital would have been only £5,200 and grossly insufficient for erecting a new mill.
 
Suggesting additional money was borrowed in February 1875 the paper trade press reported that the company was building an extensive mill at Feniscowles, later noting that that a 112 inch paper machine was to be installed and ultimately it would operate 3 machines.Yet it came to nought and fifteen months later in June 1875 it was reported that Roddlesworth ‘has come to a premature collapse. It not having possessed sufficient strength to reach the stage of commencing to work, it has resolved to wind itself up voluntarily’.In September 1875 it was reported that the liquidators of the Company, Josiah Gregson and Timothy Lightbown had completed their task.4

Star Paper Mill Company Ltd

Incorporated March 1875, with £60,000 share capital 
The directors and shareholding in May 1875 were:

​Josiah Gregson
​Over Darwen
​Cotton Manufacturer
​950
John Thos. Jackson
​Oldham
​Chemist and Druggist
​200
Timothy Lightbown
​Lower Darwen
​Cotton Manufacturer
​750
​James Bartholmey
​Oldham
​Cotton Spinner
​200
​James Howarth
​Oldham
​Cotton Spinner
​200
Lawrence Gregson
​Over Darwen
​Cotton Manufacturer
​950
​John Kenworthy
​Hollinwood, Near Manchester
​Accountant


The Star mill was registered 23 March 1875, its stated aim was to buy from the Roddlesworth company its unfinished mill and reservoir and had double the share capital of its predecessor. By 3 May 1875 11,752 of the 12,000 shares were taken up, when 10 shillings per share called-up. Construction continued a pace and the first 120 inch machine was running in autumn 1876. Coinciding with the first three months of production at an extraordinary general meeting in December 1876, the directors increased capital by an additional £20,000 in preferential shares: these being interest bearing and with a promise to repay the initial sum after a term of years, such bonds as these were likely to be paid if the company was in difficulty and consequently secure.  This money was badly needed because director and first mill manager James Longton, comes in for criticism in the press when it was reported ‘heavy loss in the ¼ due to the directors selected poor managers therefore paper not satisfactory quality’.5

In order to overcome these difficulties the company was advertising for loans at a mouth-watering 6% from the general public in January 1877.6  In June that year the company’s capital was further increased by £22,500 by issuing 1,500 Debenture Bonds and ten months later a further round of fundraising increased share capital by an additional £20,000 in £5 shares. This was required for both running the second 120 inch paper machine started in 1878 and for making payment to those ‘formerly shareholders in late Roddlesworth Paper Manufacturing Co Ltd from whom the present company purchased the Mill and Premises’. Presumably the latter was a promise made when the purchase of Roddlesworth mill was negotiated.

Despite all its funding by 1881 the company was only just in profit as according to Clitheroe papermaker  John Carlisle, its balance sheet showed a profit of only £291.Yet this was substantially better than 1877 when losses were £3,500.

​​Liabilities

​​Assets

​Share Capital
​£54,458
​Outlay on Building, Machines, Cottages
​£75,650

​Debenture Bonds
​£15,000
​Inventory
​£10,339
​Mortgage
​£14,434
​3 Month Profit
​£291
​Loan holders
​£2,388
​​
​Toatal Capital
​​£86,280
​£86,280

The output was newsprint, printing papers and long elephants, i.e. a base paper used for the manufacture of wallpaper. The two 120 inch paper machines were supplemented in 1882 by the installation of the underused 112 inch machine previously installed at the Withnell Paper Company Ltd. This came about in June 1881 when another extraordinary general meeting made provision for payment on an outstanding mortgage and bonds, plus raising ‘£10,000 for purchase money of Withnell Paper Mill land, machinery and premises’ at a bargain the price of £3,000, plus the cost of removal of paper machine at Withnell to Feniscowles. Once the equipment had been removed the nine acre Withnell mill site became a reservoir, storing additional water required for the Star’s extended operation associated with the installation of the Withnell paper machine.8

The later history of the Star mill lies outside the scope of this article, but is comprehensively covered by the book written by Abverainen and the booklet ‘A century of Papermaking in the Roddlesworth Valley’.9

The Feniscowles Paper Mill Company Ltd and its successor the Sun Paper Company Ltd occupied the most northerly site just before the River Roddlesworth joins the River Darwen, it was sited only a matter of a few hundred meters from the Star company.

Feniscowles Paper Mill Company Ltd
Incorporated 13 Sept 1873, £30,000 share capital
The directors at foundation were:

​Josiah Gregson
​Lower Darwen
​Cotton Manufacturer
​*John Tomlinson
​Over Darwen
​Coal Merchant
​Jacob Cooper
​Over Darwen
​​Coal Merchant
​John Harwood
​Over Darwen
​Paper Maker
​James Carter
​Blackburn
​Coal Merchant
​Edmund Monk
​Padium
​Farmer
​*William Tomlinson
​Over Darwen
​Coal Merchant


In March 1875 a healthy 2,390 of the 3,000 shares were taken-up.  Full production was achieved by February 1875, a creditable 18 months build. Its 76 inch and 90 inch machines were producing News, Printing and Long Elephant. For a few short months the company appeared to be doing well as its paid-up £10 shares were changing hands at £15. However, suggesting the first two years were far from successful on 6 July 1877 the directors gave a personal guarantee to the bankers of the company to secure an overdraft and a second mortgage totalling £5,000. Unable to stem the losses in 1877 its principle lender, the Blackburn Building Society, being owed £26,201 took possession, the mill having closed in August that year. The true scale of the problems were laid bare when John Carlisle noted that the working accounts for the year of 1877 showed a loss on sales of £3,506, without allowance for depreciation and interest. He suggested the actual loss was over £6,000.

At a time so many paper mills in the area were up for sale the Blackburn Building Society was unsuccessful in selling it as a going concern and it was stopped for several years. Costing £47,000 to erect it was sold in September 1882 for £8,050 to become the Sun Paper Company.10

Sun Paper Company Ltd 
Incorporated 13 October 1882, £50,000 share capital in £100 divisions
The directors and shareholding at foundation were:

​James Lightbown
​Salford
​Paper Manufacturer
​60
​J. T. Jackson
​Rochdale
​Cotton Spinner
​10
Henry Lightbown
​Weaste-lane, near Manchester
​Paper Stainer
​20
J. Gregson
​Birkdale. Southport
​Retired Cotton Spinner
​40
​J. Fitton
​Clifton Junction, near Manchester
​Retired Grocer
​30
​J. Brown
​Bamber Bridge
​Agent
​20
​T. Lightbown
​Dorneen
​Cotton Manufacturer
​40


The new company stated it ‘proposes to purchase the Feniscowles Paper Mill, situate Feniscowles, near Blackburn, recently put up for sale by auction and bought by James Lightbown, of Salford, on behalf of this (the Sun) company, for £8,050’.  It was registered in October 1882 with a capital of £50,000 in £100 shares and 220 shares were taken at incorporation. 

The Sun Company closed in the 1980’s. 

This article is a shortened version of ‘Five Paper Company Foundations on the River Roddlesworth’, Darwen. 1873 to 1882. Which will be published shortly by The British Association of Paper Historians, in its Quarterly Magazine.

In Part 3 and final section of this series of articles, I shall review the events detailed previously and identify a fascinating back-story connecting the five companies to one of the most important wallpaper manufacturers in Great Britain.


 1Abvenainen J, The History of Star Paper 1875-1960, (1976) Private Published, p.12.
 2BLNL. Paper Makers Circular, March 15 1875
 3BLNL. Paper Makers Circular, June 15 1875
 4The London Gazette, September 10 1875 Issue:24244, p 4469
 5Oldham Library, Oldham Standard, 2 December 1876
 6Preston Herald, 6 January 1877, p.7
 7Lancashire Record Office (hereafter LRO). DDX 54/96
 8LRO. DDFD/11/291, The Star Archives are not yet fully catalogued
 9James Stevens, John Downham, Michael Harrington, David Bateson and Mark Taylorson, A century of Papermaking in the Roddlesworth Valley, privately published, 2008 
 10Blackburn Standard, 28 October 1882, p.5
 11Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 23 October 1882,  p.7

Mike Malley, February 2020






















 

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