Mugiemoss Mill – A short history
This is a
short history account of Mugiemoss Mill from the days it was founded in 1796
to the day it was closed in June 2005
has been extracted from previously published material and more recently from
thoughts and personal experiences of those who have seen it through to the
It has to be
said that it is with heavy heart that this final chapter is written of a long
established, successful business. The
people of Mugiemoss have been the backbone to the company.
Without their dedication, pride, work ethos and humour, the success of
the mill would undoubtedly have foundered many decades ago.
To have made
it through the last 200 years is testament to the courage and hard work of all
those involved, at whatever stage, safe in the knowledge that people have
given their all, have made the company what it is and have raised many
generations of people who have carried on the tradition with pride and
We owe it to
these people, past and present, to walk away with heads held high, having
achieved so much, made great friends and colleagues, and fulfilled in a lot of
cases a lifetime’s work.
In the beginning..
family came from the Tarland area of Aberdeenshire, where they farmed and
factored and had interests in wood mills.
In the second half of the 18th century, John Davidson and
his family moved to the ‘Buxburn’ area.
John was a dyer to trade and one of his four sons, Charles, was trained
as a millwright at Grandholm Waulk Mill (opposite Stoneywood) and was very
proficient in understanding mechanical engineering. His friend Charles Smith, was the nephew of the founder of
Stoneywood Mill, Alexander Smith, and on his death in 1796, the Stoneywood
Mill was inherited by his grandson by marriage, Alexander Pirie. Charles Smith
withdrew to found another paper mill nearby.
His partner was Charles Davidson, the founder of the firm which bore
his name. The partnership
with Charles Smith lasted only a few years and by 1811 he had returned to
Davidson set up in business on his own account in 1811 by leasing land at
Mugiemoss for a period of 57 years for £18 per annum.
(The lease was subsequently extended several times).
The mills erected at Mugiemoss fulled woollen cloth, beat flax and
ground fermented tobacco leaf into snuff.
Papermaking came later, probably beginning in 1821, and this quickly
overtook the other activities. By
1833, the lease at Mugiemoss described Charles Davidson simply as a
some differing accounts of how the firm was started and when paper was
actually first manufactured at Mugiemoss.
The extract above is from the book “Davidsons of Mugiemoss” written
by historian J. N. Bartlett. Other
accounts relate to Charles Davidson actually starting on his own in 1796
following the brief partnership with Charles Smith.
It has been written that the choice between Mugiemoss and Stoneywood as
a location was on the toss of a coin, but this seems doubtful when the
Stoneywood mill was owned by the Smith family and subsequently passed to the
It could be
argued that the 200-year celebrations in 1996 were somewhat premature, as
technically C. Davidson & Sons did not start out on their own account
until 1811, but what the heck, we all had a great time!
Whichever account is correct, the fact remains that a company was set
up in 1796 by Charles Davidson.)
worked hard and built the company up, and in 1830, he took his two sons,
William and George into partnership. Charles
died in 1843. Around 1850 George sold his share to pursue other business
interests, and William in due course, brought in his five sons, Charles,
George, Alexander, John and David. In
June 1853 a large scale fire destroyed a 3-storey building used for the
production of pulp. Apart from
the cost of £3,000, production was disrupted severely and it was several
months before the Mugiemoss Works were again running at anything like full
trading was difficult the business was expanded with more production capacity,
and in 1857 a London warehouse was opened.
It was around this time that young George’s inventive genius brought
a new line of interest to the business. He
developed and patented an idea for making block bottom paper bags.
This development was seen as a tremendous step forward in the packaging
field of those days and by 1875 Davidsons were the largest makers of paper
bags in the world. Such was the success that the product was in such demand
that no sales persons were necessary! Every
few months an advertisement would appear in The Times that one of the
Davidsons would be staying in such and such a hotel in London, Birmingham or
Glasgow and would be “graciously pleased to receive any potential customers
who wished to place orders”!
in 1875, George died at the young age of 38, but his legacy continued on in
the form of 18 bag machines churning out well over two million bags per week.
Also in that year the firm was converted into a limited liability company, and
further warehouses were opened in Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh and
were also taken out on new methods of papermaking and paper products.
These included manufacture of Cedar Felt made as a Duplex type, and
made famous throughout the world. Cedar
Felt was basically a grey paper but lined with a thin layer of a mixture of
cedar dust and wood pulp. “Its
refreshing smell defeated moths and prevented dust from coming through
floorboards when used under carpets”. This was being manufactured on one of
the first twin wire machines in the UK. This
venture was so profitable that the company opened a branch in Australia, which
during the latter part of the 19th century was in rapid
development. However, this was
closed in later years as the paper industry became established in that
country. A third wire was added to this paper machine in 1930 and some types
of triplex paper were made with some success.
At the end of
the 19th century a big change was happening in the manufacture of
paper. Wood pulp was being
produced and was rapidly taking over from paper made from rags. This superior quality paper was becoming the norm and No.2
machine was installed to meet demand and it was followed in 1908 with PM3 to
make machine glazed papers. The
M.G. cylinder on this machine was the first large cylinder cast by Bertrams of
Sciennes, Edinburgh and it is believed that it was never quite perfect, and
was the subject of much debate between the two companies until it was finally
replaced in 1956!
five sons in the family, Charles died in 1870, with no family, and as
mentioned George died in 1875. John
and David managed the Aberdeen operations, while Alexander continued the
business in London until he died in 1920.
John died in 1897. . At the outbreak of the First World War it was David in
Aberdeen and Alexander in London who headed up the business. They were assisted by John’s son Charles who continued with
the business line in London until he died in 1943, Alexander’s son William
based in Aberdeen, and David’s son, Tom in Aberdeen.
At this time Tom was heavily involved in the Territorial Army, and he
was called up immediately on the outbreak of war. David died in 1915, so it
was William that was left on his own in Aberdeen through the remaining war
years until ‘Colonel Tom’ returned in 1919.
(It was this William who wrote the 1899 diary that was found and
summarised in the Aberdeen Leopard Magazine in 2001, and has been subject of
fascinating discussions about the lifestyle at that time).
Mugiemoss was drained of its young men during the war years and sadly
far too many of them did not return. A
commemorative Roll of Honour of those who served in this campaign can still be
seen on the wall outside the personnel office at the mill.
The post war
years were particularly difficult with raw materials in very short supply and
prices liable to huge swings, usually downward as the 1920’s slump bit very
hard. The Legal Net Weight Act
came into force and this forced the weight of paper bags down.
PM3 was able to cope with the changes but PM2 had to be rebuilt with a
second-hand M.G. cylinder added to cope with the lightweight products.
Many paper mills in the UK closed down but the Davidson Mill fought on,
sometimes with only one machine of the three running.
Costs were paired to the bone and many parts were left uninsured to
save insurance premiums. A fire
would have been the last straw, so a smoking ban was strictly enforced (the
current one was not the first one then!).
It is believed that anyone caught smoking would pay 2s 6d to the Red
Cross on the first offence and instant dismissal on the second offence!
died in 1920 and William retired a few years later, leaving Colonel Tom to
carry on in Aberdeen, and Charles took over the London end of the business,
which was by this time quite substantial.
It was Tom’s dedication, understanding and compassion that brought
the mill through the 1920’s and 1930’s.
His personality was such that he knew every employee and took it hard
when he was forced to close down parts of the mill and lay people off. He understood the strong family ties that many employees and
their forebears had with the mill and his legacy has lived on through until
more recent years, when the Mugiemoss Mill “family” was still very much in
In the middle…
depression years in the 1930’s the mill limped along, utilising its diverse
manufacturing capabilities to keep the company head above water, including the
reliable Cedar base felt. Major
capital expansion was quite out of the question.
1935 was the worst year of the crisis, and it was only the faith in the
word of Colonel Tom and the suppliers of raw materials that kept the company
out of the bankruptcy court. A
major shareholder in the firm, Mr A.T. Dawson had joined the board in 1926,
and both he and Colonel Tom dipped deep into their private reserves to keep
the company solvent.
This was also
the year (1935) that was the last in legal netting of salmon on the lower
reaches of the River Don. A
record catch of 896 salmon was taken on the first night of fishing from the
Saughpot or pool.
In the face
of this hardship for the company it was an extremely brave decision to enter
into another side of the trade, namely the manufacture of paperboard.
Through capital re-structure, fresh money was released and the dry end
of a good second hand machine was purchased from Hendon mill near Sunderland.
A brand new wet end was purchased and an experienced board maker, Mr
Frank Williamson, was hired, to bring about the birth of No.4 machine in 1936.
(Many of these are still the same drying cylinders, which operated
right up to the mill closure in 2005, being over 80 years old.)
Also in 1936,
David Peter Davidson, Colonel Tom’s son, joined the company, becoming a
director in 1938, and he was heavily involved in the marketing and selling
side of the business. Mr J.C.
Duffus, a lawyer from Aberdeen, also joined the board at this time and he was
later to pioneer the future shape of the Davidson Mill.
By 1937 the Gyproc plant at Shieldhall near Glasgow was buying
Plasterboard Liner from Mugiemoss. This was the start of a long relationship
in the manufacture and development of this product, as a mainstay and
ultimately the downfall to operations at Mugiemoss.
machine was closed, having run for around 100 years, and unfortunately the
Cedar Felt product died along with it. However,
a new paper development was brought on line in the 1930’s in the name of
Ibeco Paper, which was a strong Kraft-based wrapping paper, waterproofed
through the introduction of a bitumen emulsion into the beater. This product was very special and was extremely successful
for many years until the closure of No.2 machine late in the 1970’s.
It was used as an underlay for the concrete on the original East
Lancashire road and the Wembley Ice Rink, before being widely used as black
out material during the Second World War.
well placed at the onset of the Second World War, as their machines could
manufacture many of the paper and board requirements that were considered
essential to the war effort. Key personnel were retained to maintain the
production through the war years, the lessons having been learned from the
previous 1914-18 War. However,
raw materials were in extreme short supply during the war years and the board
machine stood idle on many occasions waiting on the waste paper to arrive at
the mill. Following on from the War in the late 1940’s the company made
numerous acquisitions including box makers, later to become Landor Cartons,
tube winders, later to become Radcliffe Paper Tubes, and the Northern Waste
Paper Co., later to become Davidson Waste Paper.
A most important development took place in 1950 when Abertay Paper
Sacks was launched in Dundee in partnership with two of the larger jute
companies who had been customers of Davidsons for many years. These companies
withdrew in 1953 and Abertay moved to Mugiemoss where there has been constant
development in sack making ever since.
had retired from Chairman of the Davidson Board in 1946, having held positions
of Chairman and Managing Director for 26 years.
William Davidson had died in 1940, having ceased being a Director in
1926, and Charles Davidson died in 1943, but none of their collective four
sons came into the business. So
it was that Peter Davidson, was the last remaining family member to hold a
board position, and appointed Managing Director in 1949.
The other main board members of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s
were J.C. Duffus, now becoming Chairman, Frank Williamson, the board maker,
(who later left to manage a board mill in Southern Ireland), James Dawson (son
of A.T. Dawson mentioned earlier, having stood down after 20 years on the
Board), James Partington who became Company Secretary, William Mellis, MD of
Mitchell & Muil, Henry Spence, MD of William Spence & Son, Bertram
Tawse, Chairman of William Tawse, and Eric Warburton who had joined as Mill
Davidson died in 1951. Such was the respect and high regard held for Colonel
Tom, only a few people stayed at the mill to keep machines running while
everybody else attended his funeral, and many big, strong and tough
papermakers openly wept.
dry end was completely rebuilt in 1951 – this can be seen on a series of
photographs on the website. A
third tier of dryers was added to get more drying capacity, from 75 to 104
cylinders, but it has been said that the effect was not as good as expected
due to the long draw between top and bottom cylinders where the sheet could
cool down, and of course there were no modern drying fabrics installed.
It can clearly be seen from the sequence of photographs that the
progress between pouring concrete and laying down cylinders was rapid,
reflecting in the level of business at the time to keep shut time to a minimum
– no change there then! It also highlights the problem that was uncovered
almost three decades later when the machine was to be rebuilt again, in that
the dryer section foundations were sinking slowly towards the river
- but more of that later.
Davidson continued fostering links through Plasterboard Liner development.
British Plasterboard (now BPB) was developing in South Africa through
amalgamation of various companies, and was looking to provide a complete
plasterboard product in that region. A
sales office was set up in Salisbury, Rhodesia. A paper maker was also
interested in setting up a small mill at Umtali, and it was thought that
through the links made with Davidson Mill that this may be an opportunity for
some form of joint venture. The
mill go ahead was given with BPB owning 45%, Davidson’s 40% and Gypsum
Industries South Africa 15%. BPB
director R.S. Jukes and Davidson’s J.C. Duffus later had a meeting, while en
route home from South Africa, during which they considered an amalgamation of
the two companies and within weeks the formal negotiations began.
And so, in 1953, there ended 157 years of family owned and run
operations at Mugiemoss.
At the time
of the take over Davidson’s had capital plans to expand the production on
No.4 machine and the paper mill and converting departments.
Through capital release from BPB it was now possible to speed up these
developments, and the 1950’s was a time for mill expansion and increased
profits, despite trading difficulties brought on by world conditions after the
Second World War and the Korean War.
There were over 1000 employees at the mill, working on three shifts on
PM2, PM3 and PM4, Finishing Department, Bag Making, Landor Cartons and Abertay
Paper Sacks. In Aberdeen were
local offices of the Northern Waste Paper Company and Davidsons Paper Sales.
Further waste paper offices were also in operation in Dundee,
Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Newcastle-on-Tyne. Outside Scotland were paperboard converting companies making
cartons, solid fibreboard and rigid boxes, and a further six branches of
Davidsons Paper Sales. The mill
in Umtali, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was making newsprint, carton board and
plasterboard liner for the company’s gypsum plants in southern Africa.
fired boiler was installed in 1953, and a new Water Treatment Plant – the
Paterson Plant - was installed in the mid 1950’s, while between 1959 and
1962 the Wet End of PM4 was replaced with 8 new vats, a new press section and
a new drying hood. At the start
of the 1960’s there was a growing requirement for uncoated waste based
carton board, with a bleached white liner layer, and at the same time the
volume requirement for plasterboard liner was steadily rising in UK, France
and Belgium. Plans to meet these growing requirements resulted in the
installation of a state of the art Inverform machine – PM5.
was based on the prototype machine developed at St. Anne’s Board Mill by
Walmsleys of Bury, while the second such design was installed in 1963/4 at
Thames Board Mill, Purfleet. The
machine house was designed for the installation of a mirror image machine but
this never materialised. (In
hindsight – the best of all vision – we should have installed a much wider
machine at the time and we could possibly have survived in today’s
climate!). The machine cost of £850,000 brought the project total to
£2.25 million including the machine house, stock prep (HP5 & 6), the
Krofta plant, and one heavy fuel oil fired boiler and No.2 AEI 6MW Turbo
alternator set. Not a lot of
money by today’s standards but none the less a very large and ambitious
project, which was well publicised in national and industry press at the time.
as installed was rated at 40,000 tonnes per annum, raising the mill output to
in excess of 100,000 tonnes per annum, a huge stride forward. Many of the
contracting companies used in the original construction were local and along
with well-known industry suppliers made the project a huge success.
A complete brochure entitled “Scotland’s 1st Inverform
Machine in Full Production” and dated July 29th 1965 marked the
high regard for this project in the industry.
At the time of start up of PM5 plasterboard liner was the equivalent of
390 gsm and 650 microns caliper. (0.026” thickness and 160 pounds double
crown per 480 sheets in “old money”!). The design speed for the machine
was up to 1000 ft/minute (305 m/min)
for plasterboard liner was such that the “Bucksboard” white lined
chipboard production lasted a relatively short time in the history of the
mill, with a short introduction again in the late 1980’s.
Also in 1965
the Davison Radcliffe Group Ltd was formed – originally as DRG but later
changed to DRL to avoid industry confusion with the Dickenson Robinson Group.
In 1969 Mr
Harold Pearson was appointed Managing Director and along with Peter Davidson
these two provided stability for the company through the turbulent early 1970’s,
with high energy prices and rising inflation following the Arab/Israeli War.
This lead to three-day week working for a spell, and rigorous cost
saving measures were implemented.
In the face
of this pressure on the business another brave decision was made to expand PM5
in 1970, including and extension to the dryer part to 102 cylinders from 75, a
totally enclosed high dew point hood, steam and condensate uplift, and
production uplift to 10 tonnes per hour.
This brought the machine output to the highest production per foot
width for any such machine, a record we held for a number of years to come.
Other work in this £1.6 million project included the pulp shed as an
addition to the machine house, a new Black Clawson 16ft Pulper (HP7) with
Flote Purge module, a Sunds Drum Thickener, extension to the Tar Dispersal
Plant, a new compressor house with a Joy compressor, and most significantly
the New Boiler House (now termed West Power Plant) incorporating the current
No.5 boiler albeit operating solely on heavy fuel oil at the time) and the
Allen Steam Turbine and Alternator set. This was the introduction of 11kV for the site with the old
distribution retained at 3.3kV. Also at this time the current Primary Effluent
Treatment (PET) plant building was erected with the polydisc PD1.
This linked with the Krofta plant to provide a capacity of 220,000
gallons per hour (19,000 m3/day)! The
mill capacity was then put at 125,000 tonnes per annum.
You got a lot for your money in those days!
Davidson retired from “active service” in the early 1974 spending his time
at the family home at Caskiben near Blackburn until his untimely death in
tragic circumstances in 1986. Harold
Pearson continued as DRL Group Chairman, with Eric Warburton as General
Manager until his retirement in the early 1970’s.
Bert Scudder then took over the mill operations while Chris Bushell
joined in 1976 to deputise for Harold Pearson.
received an uplift in 1974, with another dryer section extension to 132
cylinders, an upgrade to the press section, a new Black Clawson winder located
in the basement, an upgrade of the Inverform stations to short wedge
configuration, which was quickly reverted to the old IVB’s, and a completely
new 6th former added in the shape of the Tampella Arcu –Forma.
This was added as the No.1 station as the bond ply for gypsum.
This former proved a very worthwhile addition to the development of
PM5, and provided a building platform for the machine for the next 14 years
until it was removed. In its
latter years it was proved to be unstable at higher line speeds, much like the
Inverform units and its derivatives, for those that remember the runnability
Davidson mill again was at the forefront of technology when the Accuray
process control system was firstly installed on PM5 along with two new
Inverform headboxes, press section changes, complete new steam system and the
installation of the modern control systems from Foxboro.
The industry was moving more towards the controllable science rather
than the traditional craft! Orders were placed for similar equipment for PM4,
which was scheduled to receive a major uplift that same year.
However, when detailed survey work was carried out on the dry end
foundations it was found that the civil work carried out in the early 1950’s
was resulting in the machine slowly sinking towards the river.
As a result the rebuild was postponed until further funding was made
available to demolish the old “Paster Bay” (the laminator was relocated
into the end of PM5 reel store in the intervening period) and construct a new
machine house for PM4, and install all the new parts for the rebuilt machine.
This included a new wet end with BRDA formers and new style cylinder
moulds, a brand new press section, new dryer framing for the existing
cylinders in roller bearings (gone were the cylinder brasses!) a new machine
drive and new vacuum system. In the end, the machine was closed for 3 months
while the remaining parts were modified and transferred across. The machine was started up on 8th May 1980.
All in this entire project along with the work on PM5 and Stock Prep
(TD3 and HP9 Selected Waste System) cost £12.25 million.
The project was managed by John Goodall who was to later become Mill
Manager and Managing Director.
In 1979 a new
office block surrounding the original Davidson Mill House was opened to
accommodate the growing requirements of the mill and DRL Group activities.
This complex was opened by HRH Duke of Edinburgh, and heralded the end to the
old green huts, which proliferated around the garden grounds of the house for
At the end of
the 1970’s the industry was going through a period of consolidation, and
Mugiemoss was no exception. This
resulted in closure of less productive plant and the Ibeco production from PM2
was transferred to PM3, while No.2 machine was closed in 1978 and dismantled,
to be later sold to Pakistan. The
requirements for a grade such as Ibeco was declining in favour of plastic
alternatives, and the running of PM3 progressively became less tenable
resulting in its closure in March 1981. This
was a significant step in mill history, bringing to an end the manufacture of
paper at Mugiemoss after something like 185 years. PM3 was sold but later
scrapped when the financial deal fell through.
The focus was
now therefore on paperboard manufacture. Through the early part of the 1980’s
the mill consolidated the work achieved from the project carried out at PM4
and PM5. The boundaries were pushed in terms of production and quality.
New grades were sought and developed for both machines.
There was also growing demand for lighter weight plasterboard liners
and this began to highlight the deficiencies with the Arcu Forma and Inverform
stations on PM5. An ambitious
programme to replace the wet end in strategic stages was drawn up following
trial work on multi-fourdrinier forming.
The first stage was to extend the bottom wire to accommodate a base ply
fourdrinier and this was carried out in 1985.
At one stage there were in fact seven formers on the wet end!
phase of PM5 wet end development was scheduled for the following year but this
was put on hold pending another strategic Group decision that was the purchase
of Purfleet Board Mill from the Thames Group.
The extended Group name was changed to Davidson Limited. Much needed expenditure was directed at the Purfleet Mill,
but this did not deter developments at Mugiemoss as in 1986 state of the art
projects were commissioned at HP10 pulping system with a unique Soaking Drum,
and a new Anaerobic and Aerobic Effluent Treatment Plant was installed to meet
increasingly stringent environmental requirements.
phase of PM5 uplift was completed early in 1989 with the replacement of the
Arcu Forma and two Inverform stations with the Voith DuoK former.
At the same time a new Duo Centri Press was installed to replace the
old vacuum presses, a new Vacuum System in a shiny new building, a new Allen
Bradley drive to replace the Harland drive.
The wet end roof was replaced with the machine running later that same
year, and already the 3rd phase was in planning for the end of the
year. This phase included a new
Size Press, a Liner fourdrinier station (No.4 former) and extensive
improvements of the Middles and Liner stock prep systems. A 4th
phase rebuild again added new dimensions to PM5. The machine was shortened (yes shortened!) on the
installation of a shoe press and complete dryer rebuild.
The drive speed was again uplifted, this time to a capacity of 750m/min
(from the original design speed of 300 m/min in 1965)
PM4 was not
without improvements through the “boom” years of the 1980’s, with new
Black Clawson Bristol formers and fan pumps installed in stages, a new
Calender Stack new Reel Up, Refiner upgrade, Broke and Rejects system upgrade,
4th Stock system and a new Jagenberg winder and reel handling
system in 1988.
development and quality improvements were made possible through these
strategic capital investments, and exports became a much larger part of the
product portfolio. A visit by HRH
Duke of Kent in his capacity as vice-chairman of the British Overseas Trade
board was further emphasised with the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement
first in 1989 and again in 1992. Also
in 1989 the mill was the first UK board mill and first Scottish mill to
achieve BS 5750 Part II (later changed to ISO 9001)
period through the late 1970’s to early 1990’s rapid change was taking
place in all business aspects. Management
changes saw John Goodall heading up and pioneering the rapid development
programme for the mill as mill Manager while a new General Manager was
appointed in George Kellie. George
moved on after several years and John Goodall took over as Director and
General Manager and later, Paperboard Managing Director.
At mill level Chris Blackford was appointed as Managing Director and a
new Mill Manager, James Herbert was appointed late in 1980’s. Chris’ term
as MD was short lived and John Kirby as Operations Director succeeded him.
James’s successor after a few years was Bill Gordon who was promoted from
Manufacturing Manager. Anyone who
knew Bill also knew his inimitable style and character, and it is very sad
that Bill died in service early in 1996 just at the time of the 200-year
celebrations. In recognition of
the tremendous achievements made by both PM4 and PM5, and by those who worked
and managed them, at the 200-year celebrations in May 1996, commemorative
plaques were presented by Chris Bushell, at PM5, naming it The Gordon
Highlander, and by Harold Pearson to Donald Innes, at PM4, naming it Colonel
successor as Mill Manager was Murdo Macdonald, for a short spell, ahead of his
move to Radcliffe Mill. On a
subsequent Paperboard restructure, the director status at mill level was
removed, and John Kirby became Mill Manager, reporting to Fred Lunn at Group
level. John was succeeded by
Murray Shearer who had returned after some years at the Purfleet Mill. Doug McConnachie succeeded him at Purfleet.
David Anderson later succeeded Fred at Group level.
Murray became Mill Manager in 1998 and is the last ever Mill Manager of
the Mugiemoss Mill operations.
Limited group continued to grow through the 1980’s and so it was that in
1989 a decision was made to move the Group Head Office to Northwich in
Cheshire. Since the centre of
gravity was moving away from the previous Davidson family the group name was
again changed to BPB Paper & Packaging Ltd in 1989 and the mill became
known as BPB Davidson to reflect its membership of BPB.
This was later changed to BPB Paperboard in 1996, with the mill at
Mugiemoss changed to the current name of BPB Paperboard, Davidson Mill.
1990’s and into the new millennium the mill capital investment was very much
curtailed, although strategic projects were carried out at PM5 in the form of
the final phase of the wet end rebuild in 1995 with a new underliner former
which was to become the main liner station and later the backs former when
reverse Ivory became the norm. A
new headbox was added to the DuoK former and the original headbox transferred
No.1 former to give more capacity. Three
years later a new winder was installed along with a purpose built reel
handling system and reel store. At
PM4 developments included a steam system rebuild, further enhancements of the
Foxboro I.A. system and a vacuum system replacement to compliment changes to
the making fabric run. At Stock
Prep T.D. system enhancements were installed with the Krima plant, while the
Effluent Treatment plant received improvements with a new DAF and in year 2000
a new Anaerobic Reactor.
In the End….
developments since the mid 1990’s were restricted primarily to essential
maintenance and legislative requirements.
Changes in business strategy led to shrinkage of the BPB Paperboard
Group with DeEendracht Mill being sold and Radcliffe Mill later closed, along
with disposal or closure of many of the converting companies.
A new Technical Division headed up by Doug McConnachie was created in
2001 with hopes of a capital revival, but alas this was not to be. Sadly in
December 2003, the Purfleet mill was closed, followed by sale of Abertay Paper
Sacks to the Mondi Group and sale of BPB Recycling to Severnside Recycling.
announcement in March 2005 of possible closure of Mugiemoss Mill is now a
reality and PM5 closed on 27th June, followed by PM4 on 29th
June 2005. What started out as
the first manufacturing company within what was to become BPB Paperboard Ltd
is now sadly closed, as the last manufacturing company in that Group.
In the end we were somewhat the victims of our own success.
Over the last 20 to 30 years we persevered with two paperboard
machines, developed almost to the ultimate within their design capabilities.
There was nowhere else to go except to a new much wider machine, but the
capital required for that was never going to be
- not from BPB and not at Mugiemoss.
Everyone has mixed emotions at the final outcome for this fine
establishment, but it was ultimately the width of our machines that beat us,
not the technology, and certainly not the will to succeed.
The mill that
has been the life-blood for generations of families in the Bucksburn and
Aberdeen areas has now closed its doors, bringing to an end a remarkable story
of courage growth, progress, recognition, pride, and finally sorrow.
There are many people who have spent most of their working life with
just one company; Mugiemoss Mill. The
last person to complete 50 years service was Derek Robertson, PM4 machineman,
in 2004, a tremendous achievement. The
last person to officially retire from the mill at 65 years was Brian Porter,
Electrician, in June 2005 with 37 years service, and the longest serving
person in the mill at closure date on 30th June was Ron Grant,
Project Engineer, with 43 years 7 months service. The list of long service
personnel is long, testament to the lure and variety of the place and the
“family feel” the mill has held for generations.
slogan quoted in the previous history accounts was “Aye tae the fore”.
That “battle cry” loses relevance now that the progress has ceased
but the memory can live on. Whatever happens to the machines and ultimately the site of
Mugiemoss is not of particular significance.
What is important is that those that have been involved in this success
story can feel proud to have been a part of it. The Davidson memories “Aye tae the fore”