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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

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​
 
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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

 

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