Vale Board Mill

The Vale Paper Company was inaugurated in February 1894 at Denny by three brothers, Alexander, James and Robert Luke.  Their father, John Luke, had bought Herbertshire Printfield and the workers’ houses that belonged to it in 1886 for £2,620.  The printworks had been closed for decades and the buildings were pretty ruinous, though there was a char mill and a lithographic print works on the site – by then known as Carronvale

“FOR SALE, CARRONVALE, near DENNY, extending to fully 21 Acres.

This property, bounded on one side by the River Carron, is admirably adapted by Situation and Water-Power for Extensive Works.  There are at present Two Water-Wheels on it, used in connection with a Lithographic Print Work and Dyewood Mill respectively; and by throwing both Falls into one a Motive Power of great importance and value would be obtained.

The Caledonian Railway intersects the Lands on a level most convenient for a Siding, and the Denny Station is in the immediate neighbourhood.

There is a commodious Mansion-House, with extensive Garden; also 26 workmen’s houses…”

{Dundee Advertiser 27 March 1883, 1).

Late in 1892 work began on the erection of a new mill for fine paper by Alexander and Robert Luke.  It was named the Vale Mill after Carronvale.  They started with what is believed to have been the first multiple cylinder mould machine installed in Scotland.  Alexander and James had both seen a triplex machine in America and at once realised the possibilities for this country.  They purchased the wet end of the machine in America and the dry end in Scotland.  The boards they made were well received in the trade which, at that time, was in its infancy.  Their qualities improved and over the next few decades they were acknowledged as producing some of the finest folding box boards made in this country.  For almost fifty years Robert McWatt was the works manager.

In 1911 the Vale Paper Company purchased the adjoining Anchor Paper Works.  At about the same time it acquired the lands of Planting Mill on the other side of the works giving it command of nearly a mile of the side of the river.

Illus: Aerial photograph of the Vale Mill, c1946.

The coal miners’ strike of 1921 meant that the mill had to close for a period due to lack of fuel.  At the height of the depression in January 1921 work at the Vale was again temporarily suspended.

The Vale Paper Company (Ltd) was formed as a joint stock company in May 1933 with Alexander McNaughton Luke and James Luke as the main subscribers.  In 1936 the Vale Paper Company was taken over by the Associated Paper Mills (Ltd).  The works were then reorganised and modernised.  In 1939 plans were submitted for a new finishing house but the Second World War delayed the project. 

After the war, in 1945, the Vale Paper Company amalgamated with Denny Paper Works to form Vale Board Mills.

Illus: 1966/67 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

The mill closed in 1975 and, along with Carronvale House, was demolished.  The reservoirs were infilled and the area developed as a housing estate. 

G.B. Bailey, 2022