Friday, 1 March 2013

Paper Counting

I've made more than a few boxes in my time from flat cardboard but the object was to store or display. I've also been involved in moving a library twice, and my mother's wool shop once, all those occasion requiring well labelled cardboard boxes.  My last job also involved a move but  by that point  I had left libraries far behind and only had a mini research library, CDs and a computer, ah how times change, it was a breeze.   So there are all my cardboard experiences without even mentioning that of moving house  however I have never stood and made boxes all day for a living as in this week's Sepia Saturday prompt.  I have no boxes to show but
"Counting the paper at Barrow Paper Mills, Salthouse"
do have someone counting paper at the Barrow Paper Mills in pre automated days. Look at those stacks towering behind her. No dangerous moving machinery but don't forget the horror of  paper cuts, she looks as though she has kept clear of those judging from her happy demeanour.  All that can be heard is the soft rustle of paper.  The place she works in was constructed in 1889 as the Barrow Chemical Wood Pulp Company, it imported logs by ship and moved them from the port by train to the mill.  They chopped the logs boiled them with sulphur to make pulp which was supplied to paper mills. A few years later (1892) paper making machines were installed and the firm renamed Killner Partington Paper Pulp Co  and they started to import pulp rather than make it, then in 1919 the firm was reorganised as Barrow Paper Mills Ltd. They made cartridge paper, printing paper, and in a link to this week's prompt, coverings for carboard boxes and lastly high quality fine paper for books.

The company who employed 400-500 people, 200 of them women, would close in 1973.  One of the men who was part of decommissioning and moving the machinery at that time, Terry Hesseltine, remembers it as a happy place to work although the conditions were "hot and sticky with a smell of bleach and wood-pulp".  
Barrow Paper Mill works and Cavendish Dock, Barrow in Furness 1929
 Here is the Barrow Paper Mills in 1929 from the "Britain from Above" resource.  You can see the train steaming into view top left, trains still go past the site which is now derelict but always referred to as Salthouse Mills despite the paper mill having long gone.  All sorts of things have been suggested for the area, the latest was a waterfront residential. development but the economic climate and cost of cleaning up a brownfield site means its acreage is still unused apart from a few small businesses.  Wood pulp is still shipped into the Barrow port but it is going into the opposite direction of this site and the Kimberly Clark factory making paper tissue branded with the Andrex puppy.

14 comments:

Brett Payne said...

They're closing paper mills here too, because the demand for newsprint is decreasing all the time. We'll have to read more books, or print more sepia photos, or something. Thanks for sharing the photo of the woman counting paper.

Boobook said...

Goodness. How do you even start 'counting paper'. Remarkable.

Bob Scotney said...

Counting paper! Stocktaking would be a nightmare.

Little Nell said...

That's an incredibly sharp and detailed picture. You've reminded me of the paper cuts I received when I was working at the printing works - we had to grab sheaves of paper and fan them out before feeding them into the 'collator' - many a cut made that way!

Karen S. said...

Oh my what a perfect find with this! I really enjoy her smile too!

Kathy Morales said...

Her clothing is a perfect match as well.

Postcardy said...

That's a great photo, but counting paper sounds like a horrible job.

Alan Burnett said...

Boxes must be the spiritual symbols of all those who collect old photographs and explore family trees. Boxes and paper : even in this digital age, such an essential part of our lives.

tony said...

A Great Detailed Photograph.I Never Realized Barrow was involved so much in Paper Manufacture...(my only visits have been to visit Barrow RLFC!)

Joy said...

You may have passed the Paper Mill in your way in to Barrow Tony, depending on your route in.
If you want to see your team win at the moment then Barrow RLFC is the place to be, am I disheartened, possibly:-)

ScotSue said...

Your different interpretation on the theme brought back memories when I was involved in various work moves - in setting up tourist information centres and having to unpack abut 30 boxes of material, and in helping to move our local archive centre to new much larger premises, when we spent nearly 5 boring months, packing boxes and wrapping heavy volumes. I had never thought of using those experiences in this prompt.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Joy, this is so cool! What a great couple of photos and stories too.

I can't imagine having to move a library, twice. What a hard worker you are.

Kathy M.

Dave said...

Thanks for sharing these reminicences Joy. These are always fun to read - Dave

Llilian Cooksey. said...

My mother and her two sisters worked at what they called 'the pulp works' in the twenties. My grandmother lived nearby at the gasworks house (my grandfather was superintendent of the gas works. My mother died of TB when she was 32 - I don't think this was connected to her work in the mill. My grandmother told me that my mother could recognise when paper was coming out the wrong shade and was commended for this.