​​​​ Chemical IndustriesBleaching and Dyeing  | Paper Making - Blackburn | Paper Making - Darwen 
Star Paper Mill | Wallpaper Making in Darwen | Paint Making | Wallpaper Making in Darwen

 

 

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 community.history@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
 

 

 
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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. 

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