Herbertshire Mill

Illus: Plan of the Estate of Herbertshire surveyed by John Wilson, resurveyed by James Adam, 1835.

Herbertshire was a one vat papermill built in 1788 by William Morehead, the owner of Herbertshire Estate, at a cost of £500.  The mill was leased to a series of tenants whose rapid turnover of occupancy between 1789 and 1801 indicates the difficulty that they had in making it a success with the limited water power available.

The first tenant was James Liddell, followed in November 1790 by Daniel Macdonald to whom Morehead agreed to supply “a set of felts and frames, a winch and scales and weights.”  In 1791 Edward and Richard Collins agreed to build a workhouse, dryhouse, dwelling house and offices and received an advance of £100 from Morehead for extra machinery.  Despite these additions they only managed to produce six reams of paper per day and soon fell into debt.  In 1795 the business passed to Francis Strachan and Gilbert Laing.  Although they were able to increase production by two reams a day this was still insufficient to keep the mill viable.  So, in 1797, Adam Grieve took over.  The lease was advertised in 1800:

“The mill, which contains two engines, with very complete and substantial machinery, utensils, etc and the Dwelling House, Offices and Work-Houses, etc were all erected and complete within these few years, in a substantial manner at the expense on the whole of upwards of L.2000 Sterling and of course are at present in the best order and repair, so that there is little occasion for immediate outlay, and a capital to carry on the manufactory is only required.  The situation is known to be advantageous for the purchase of rags etc., the profits on the manufacture are very considerable, the demands for produce great, with quick returns, and the rent expected is moderate.

The Dwelling House is elegant and commodious, in a situation highly romantic and picturesque, and within a few hundred yards of the great roads to Stirling, Glasgow and Edinburgh”

(Edinburgh Evening Courant, 19 July 1800).

The next tenant was Charles Laing.  In order to overcome the seasonal problems with the water supply and to increase the drop, William Morehead came to an agreement with Archibald Napier who owned the Lands of Randolphill to the west to construct a weir at the Tamaree Lin.  At this point the river narrowed as it passed through a rocky gorge.  Napier intended to construct a meal mill at Tamaree and so John Reid of Bonnymill was brought in on the deal.  The final agreement was registered on 10 September 1802 and stipulated a canal or cut five feet wide and two and half feet deep to deliver water with a height or fall of at least ten feet above the surface level of Herbertshire Mill.  It also included the phrase “the said parties shall have full power and liberty to erect such mills as they shall think proper upon the sides of the said Canal each of them within his own property.”  This allowed for the construction of Tamaree Mill and even later of Carrongrove Paper Mill.

In 1817 William Morehead granted a nineteen year lease to John Andrew, papermaker, and Robert Weir and Gilbert Kennedy, stationers in Glasgow.  Three years later John Andrew gave up his share of the lease in favour of his two partners.  The mill now possessed two vats with hogs and wheels, two stuff chests, seven presses, one pair of couch planks and a dusting machine. 

Robert Weir had many business interests and in 1824 ran Herbertshire Mill on his own.  He improved performance and in 1834 leased it to Andrew Duncan who invested over £2,000 on further machinery.  In 1835 William Forbes of Callendar bought the Herbertshire estate which included Herbertshire Paper Mill.  John Kerr wrote to William Forbes asking him to consider a reduction on the rental:

“Glasgow 14th April 1836

            I am fav.d with your letter in reference to Messrs. Hart& Duncan’s claims for aid in their improvements in Carron paper mill and I expect to observe that you are advised that it is not of your power to award them additional remuneration for machinery left at the expiration of their lease.

          Allow me to say that it is only one alternative of my proposition to you & that from the view you have taken I am inclined to believe that I have not been sufficiently explicit. It is not so much for machinery that may be left by the tenants that I deem their claims entitled to attention from you—

The machinery will then speak for itself and the then proprietor of the mill (who I trust will be yourself) these claims fall properly to be proferred. It is for the buildings that the tenants are constructing and which are permanent & beneficial additions to your property that I consider them chiefly entitled to remuneration. No tenant can be expected to build on a 25 years lease; yet Hart &Duncan , on the faith of a liberal consideration from you , are actually erecting two houses at this moment of which they can only enjoy the use during the limited period above alluded to while these houses remain your property & increase the value of the mill as long as they endure. I respectfully submit to you whether it is fair to allow tenants to bear the expense of such erections.

          Besides, the tenants are literally securing as well as augmenting the machinery of the mill, and they are surely entitled to sound encouragement from their landlord for such erections.”

(Forbes Papers 1230/11).

The local minister provides us with an excellent description of Herbertshire Mill in 1841:

Messrs Alexander Duncan & Sons carry on at this mill the manufacture of writing-paper.  They employ upwards of 20 men and 50 women.  The wages are paid monthly; on an average, 15s per week for the men, and 5s for the women: besides these, 2 men and 4 horses are constantly employed carting rags and coals, and carting the paper to Grangemouth for shipment to London.  The workers principally reside in Denny and Fankerton, a small village in the parish up the Carron, and in the neighbourhood.  The following is an account of the process of paper-making at Herbertshire Mill: As soon as the rags are cut by women across a scythe blade fixed into a table covered with wire-cloth, for the purpose of getting rid of the dust and sand, they are passed into the boiling-house, where they are boiled for twelve hours; afterwards, they are washed, and broke into a pulp by an iron cistern, called a paper-engine, capable of holding one hundred weight of rags, which are beat by a roller with thirty-six steel bars, which turn on a plate in the bottom of the cistern.  Five of these engines, of twenty steel bars, are kept constantly going night and day, requiring upwards of forty horse power to drive them and the other requisite machinery.  After the rags are broke in and bleached for twenty-four hours, they are beat into pulp or stuff ready for passing on to the paper-machine, perhaps one of the most complete pieces of machinery ever invented in this country; as, in one room of 60 feet in length, by 25 feet wide, one may see the stuff much resembling churned milk, passing by means of a fine web of wire-cloth fifteen feet long into a series of rolls used in pressing out the water, and forming the paper into a firm body.  It then passes into a set of cylinders heated by steam, from which it is reeled into rolls in a perfectly finished state, quite dry and pressed, ready for use.  Six of the rolls are then put on to the cutting-machine, which cuts them into the sizes required.  The cutting-machine is the invention of Messrs Foudrinier of Hanley, Staffordshire, and patent.  It is capable of cutting 144 sheets per minute of post or writing-paper.  On an average, 26 cwt of rags are cut per day in the rag-house, and 21 cwt of them beat into stuff, yielding an average of from 1600 to 1700 lbs per day of twenty-four hours, as all the machinery is kept going night and day.  The duty paid every six weeks averages L.320; the wages every month. L.100; carting, and other carriages, L.40.  The water-wheel for driving the paper engines is 24 feet diameter, and fully 12 feet wide, all iron, and weighs 33 tons.  Another small wheel is used for driving the paper-machine, 22 feet  diameter, and 18 inches wide.  The works are lighted with gas, and four tons of coals are used daily.

The partnership between John Duncan (deceased) and Andrew Duncan, Herbertshire Paper Mill, was dissolved in 1857.  Andrew died on 27 August 1863 aged 52.  At the time of his death Herbertshire Mill employed 180 hands.  His son, Alexander, took over the running of the works and was present when, in December 1866, a large new finishing house was completed.  The vast hall was lighted by two “sunlights” each containing sixty burners (hopefully with appropriate fire precautions).  In 1869 a Bertrams 84ins paper making machine was installed.  Three years later the company was making 16 tons of paper per week.

Alexander Duncan and Sons prospered and in 1879 took over the adjacent dyeworks to the east.  It installed yet another 84ins paper making machine there and operating it as a paperworks until 1881 when it was leased by Sir William Collins of Glasgow who put his son, John Collins, in charge.  By 1887 John Collins was also managing the Herbertshire Mill and in February that year arranged for electric lighting to be installed in both works.  Sir William Collins acquired Herbertshire Mill outright in December 1887.  New machinery was introduced.

The day to day running of the two mills was left to a series of managers.  These included Henry White, George P Fleming and David Dobbie.  1898 saw the replacement of several steam engines at Herbertshire and Stoneywood with an up-to-date marine compound engine capable of 350 horse power.

In 1906 John Collins Ltd sold Herbertshire Mill and Glencarron House to the Carrongrove Paper Company for £14,400.  Herbertshire Mill closed on 12 January 1908 with the loss of a little over 80 jobs.  Demolition began on 1 February to make way for an expansion of the Carrongrove Paper Works.

Sites and Monuments Record

SMR 487(NS 795 830)

G.B. Bailey, 2022