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R
ecollections of a Castle Mills Post Boy

Tom Lee & Bob Thompson

Olga Niblett

50 Years of Golf on the Braid Hills
Castle Mills Staff dance 1961

Willie Fraser

Dick Bell

Dougie Forbes presented--

Presentation by Foster Stewart to Chief Constable W Merrillees

Some Dumfries memories
Castle Mills lab Staff 1948
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RECOLLECTIONS OF A CASTLE MILLS POSTBOY

In April 1968 at the age of 15, I responded in writing to an advert placed in the Edinburgh Evening News by Uniroyal Ltd which had a vacancy for a Postboy at their Offices at Castle Mills, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh and was duly invited in for an interview on Friday 3rd May. I was sitting my O Grade exams at the time but had days off from school when I didn't have an actual exam.

At the time I lived in Linlithgow Bridge, West Lothian and didn't have a clear idea of my way about Edinburgh, which I had probably only been in less than 20 times previously. However a family friend advised how I should get a bus to Haymarket and then walk up Morrison Street and Grove Street where I would find Fountainbridge. In the event it proved very easy for me to find Castle Mills.

I was interviewed by George Gray, one of the personnel officers, along with one of his colleagues, and towards the the end of the interview by Mr McGregor, head of the Stationery/Printing/Postal Services Department. At the end of some 30 to 40 minutes I was stunned to be offered the job commencing at 8.30 am the following Monday. This was my first ever interview and I would be starting work with a annual salary of £351 which worked out at about £7 and 5 shillings per week. My parents were delighted and thought that I had landed on my feet as my father's take home pay at the time after tax etc was about £15 per week. My employment was also subject to the satisfactory completion of a medical examination which I had to undergo within my first month in the job.

I duly turned up on the Monday morning and met the rest of the postal department team. In charge was Harry Gamble who had an artificial arm (I never found out how he had lost his arm), along with Ian and Jimmy who were the other postboys. I was replacing Jimmy who had served his time in the post room and was due to move on to one of the offices upstairs once I had completed a week handover training. Postboys were employed on the basis that they would do between 9 and 12 months in the job where they learned about the structure of the company's operations at Castle Mills before being 'promoted' to a job in one of the offices.

The postal department was very much in the bowels of the Castle Mills Head Office building being located beneath the main staircase. The actual postroom with all the mailsacks, pigeonhole units, weighing scales for both small and large items, and franking machine were in what had no doubt been a strongroom at one time. The access door was heavy gauge steel and while clearly hollow was about 5 inches thick. Along the corridor was the Stationery/Printing Unit. As noted previous the man in charge of this area was Mr (Angus?) McGregor who projected a very military bearing; it was suggested that he had served in a Guards regiment in World War II. He was assisted by Bertie Topp who also helped in the postroom in the late afternoon and during busy periods. There were also four or five girls who operated the reproduction equipment such as Banda and Gestetner machines. This unit produced all the forms used by Uniroyal in the UK and sometimes between mail runs the postboys had to help guillotine printed material, collate it into sets and gluing the multicoloured forms into pads and parcelling up stationery for the network of regional offices/salesmen. One thing that I learned to master during my time in the stationery unit which has stayed with me was how to wrap and tie a parcel properly. Apart from things like the boiler room and the Gents toilets, the other facility on the basement floor was a coin operated hot drinks machine in the corridor which dispensed tea, coffee and soup.

On entering the main door of the Castle Mills Head Office in Gilmore Park you ascended a few steps to reach the Reception desk. If I remember correctly off to the right was the accounts department and to the left was the Cashiers booth, the publicity office and other Head Office functions. Up a somewhat grand looking central set of stairs to the First floor were the senior managers offices including the Managing Director, Factory Manager, Company Secretary, a small typing pool, and the purchasing department. A second, less grand, flight of stairs next to the purchasing department led all the way down to the ground floor and the basement.

However back to the postroom. The boys worked two shifts in rotation. The first was from 7.30 am to 4.00 pm and the second was from 9.30 am to 6.00 pm. Harry worked from 8.30 am until 5.00 pm and when he went home Bertie was in charge until 6.00 pm. The unit was therefore staffed between 7.30 am and 6.00 pm. However everyone had to come in for a 7.30 am start every Monday as the bulk of the weekly mail was received that morning, with most of it having been posted the previous Friday. In my own case given the time of the buses from Falkirk to Edinburgh I was usually at Castle Mills just after 7.00 am on Mondays and every working day when I was on the 'early shift'. This involved getting up at 5.30 am in the morning, not an easy thing for a teenager to do.

Our first mail run around the various offices and the factory was just before 9.00 am. If we got everything sorted out and ready to go by 8.15 then we were allowed to go to the factory workers canteen for a free cooked breakfast. This was a great incentive to get the mail ready for distribution as quickly as we could in order to get a free feed.

Some of the senior managers secretaries were in the habit of popping into the postroom before they went to their offices to collect the mail that was for them. This was a great help for us as it meant we could complete the early morning mailrun much quicker. We did four mailruns each day. The first was just before 9.00 am, the second was in the late morning following the second Post Office mail delivery, the third was in the early afternoon primarily to uplift outgoing mail. All mail rounds included mail received from the 'Newbridge' and 'Heathhall' factories by cars that spent their days going back and forth between the three locations. I was led to believe that these cars also doulbled up as test vehicles for the company being fitted with body panels made from Royalite, and also being fitted with Uniroyal tyres and hoses, etc. The final mail uplift was from the main office building only at 5.00 pm. Staff from more outlying offices would routinely drop off urgent post with us before going home.

There were two Telex machines in the main office building. The one for outgoing messages was upstairs from us and was operated by the Receptionist. The postroom had the Telex machine for incoming messages and anything marked 'Urgent' or 'Immediate' had to be delivered at once by whichever postboy was to hand. Telexes came in from all over the world. On one occasion the sender, who was communicating in French, asked a couple of questions which using my basic French learned at school I had to respond to, typing with a single finger on the keyboard. I must have given an adequate response as we received a 'Merci beaucoup' and the end of the exchanges.

I should add that when I started work I was not particularly adept at using the phone. During my second week the phone rang one day when I was in the postroom on my own so I had to answer it. The caller wanted to speak with Mr McGregor. I said that I would go and get him and replaced the receiver back in its cradle. By the time I returned with him the phone was ringing again. It was the same caller. After the call I was given instructions on the proper use of the phone!

Another early experience was being sent one afternoon to the Stores Department for a 'long stand'. I really was wet behind the ears and didn't see what was being asked of me. The joke backfired a bit however as the Stores Department had taken a delivery of a number of coat and hat stands the previous day and one still had to be delivered to its intended recipient. It was however too big and cumbersome for me to carry back to the main office on my own so one of the other boys had to come and give me a hand. As the perpetrator of the 'joke' he was none too amused. I heard that if I had been an apprentice in the factory I might also have been sent for a bucket of steam or a left handed screwdriver.

All the outgoing mail had to be run through the Pitney Bowes Franking Machine. This could handle large quantities of ordinary letters quite quickly such as the monthly statements issued by the Accounts Receivable Department. Foreign mail and larger items had to be individually weighed and priced. The franking machine was preloaded with a credit sum and whenever the balance came down to about £25 a cheque for around £250 made payable to the Post Office would be obtained from the Cashier and the detachable credit unit would be taken from the machine and a postboy would be sent by bus to the Waterloo Place GPO where the appropriate credit would be added to the present balance. This involved the GPO staff checking that their external seal on the machine was intact before removing it, adding a credit to the value of the cheque and adding a new seal.

I remember having to make an ad hoc trip to the GPO in December 1968. We had been given a large number of company Christmas Cards to send out and they had all duly gone through the machine at the prevailing 4d postage rate. However unknown to us some of the cards were addressed to destinations in Europe and further afield resulting in a shortfall of between 5d and 1 shilling 2d per envelope. The Post Office contacted us about this error asking for additional postage to be paid; every Franking Machine prints a unique serial number as part of the postage paid block which allowed us to be identified as the culprit. Rather than return the mail to us the GPO wanted someone to come to them and buy and add stamps making up the difference. I got an advance from the cashier to do this and once the task was completed had to hand him back the Post Office receipt for the stamps bought and the balance remaining less my bus fares. Sometimes mail was received that had insufficient postage on it and this resulted in us taking the postman to the cashier where the shortfall was paid out.

Another ad hoc task that fell to the postboys was getting lunch for the Company Secretary if he was too busy to take a lunch break. This involved going to the takeaway cafe at the foot of Gilmore Park and getting him two rolls which he gave us money for and which were always the same. However the first time I undertook the task I got the order wrong. He was a creature of habit and always requested a fried egg roll and a bacon roll. However I was born in Northern Ireland, my dad was Irish while my mother was Scottish, and I was brought up in a house where my dad always called bacon 'ham' as in Belfast Ham. When I got to the cafe I ordered a fried egg roll and ham roll and duly delivered these as instructed. My error was soon spotted and while I was very embarrassed by my mistake he was very forgiving and all my immediate colleagues had a good laugh about the yokel from the countryside.

Lunch was usually taken in the canteen which was in a building across the road from the 'head office' building. I think that the staff canteen was on the second floor while the factory workers canteen was the floor above. Being under 18 years of age I got a subsidised lunch. I can remember that it was 1shilling threepence per day for three courses if I wanted it. Drinks such as tea coffee juice etc were extra. There was a certain sameness to the food on offer. One of the main courses on a Monday was always mince. Later in the week you could have roast lamb one day and roast pork another. Given that most dishes were served with the same gravy the roast lamb and pork was usually only truly identifiable by the mint sauce or apple sauce that accompanied it. There was always fried fish and chips on Fridays which I always enjoyed. In my experience there was a bit of a joke about the soup on offer. Monday was the day of the week when one couldn't be sure what the soup would be. However as the week progressed the soup often contained a lot of whatever vegetable had been available the previous day e.g. peas, carrots, green beans, etc. I'm sure that the soup was made in part by the Solera system whereby sherry is made. One person that you most certainly did not joke with in the canteen was the woman on the till who was called Jessie. Lets just say that she most certainly did not suffer fools gladly although I'm sure that behind the stern exterior beat a heart of gold.

During January 1969 there was an explosion and fire in the building immediately opposite from the canteen block. I can remember hearing the explosion very clearly as I was working in the stationery office at the time which had external windows unlike the postroom. This resulted in the closure of the canteen for a few days and I can remember the younger staff members being supplied with Luncheon Vouchers valued at three shillings each which could used at a variety of local restaurants/cafes. One of the places that we ate at during this period was Di Rollos cafe at Tollcross.

The story was told during my time as a postboy that this particular cafe was also at the centre of an attempted fraud by a member of Uniroyal staff. It apparently was common for major customers to send representatives to check out the products being supplied at the source of manufacture. In such circumstances a member of staff would be detailed to accompany the customers representative throughout the day and take them for lunch. Di Rollos was one of the approved restaurants for this purpose being only a short taxi journey from Castle Mills and reasonably priced. It seems however that during once such visit a pad of printed receipts was stolen from the restaurant. Thereafter whenever the individual in question was claiming reimbursement of expenses for taking a client for lunch they would write out a replacement receipt for lunch in a higher amount. The deception was spotted some time after it had started when a sharp eyed auditor undertaking an audit of expenses claimed noticed that the receipts submitted by the person in question although dated weeks or months apart were in strict numerical sequence. The individual concerned was immediately dismissed.

At about 3.45 pm every day the postboys would load up a wheeled trolley with parcels and Recorded Delivery and Registered mail and take it to the Post Office in Grove Street which was just around the corner from Fountainbridge. The sub-postmaster was Freddie Glidden who in his jounger days had had a successful career as a profession footballer playing for Heart of Midlothian among other teams. It was at the completion of this task that the boy finishing at 4.00 pm would go home for the day. The Royal Mail would collect the mail sacks from the Gatehouse just after 5.00 pm each day but if there was ever any urgent mail after this time, such as items for the London Office in Horseferry Road, then the postboy who was still on duty would have to take it to a Royal Mail collection office within the Waverley Railway station where it would be placed on the overnight mail train. I didn't mind doing this as it meant I got away from work slightly early and once the mail was handed over I could always take the train home to Linlithgow.

Once every 3 or 4 weeks or so we would be especially busy handling parcels being sent out by Tom Davie who I think was responsible for a range publicity matters especially in relation to Uniroyal golf balls. These were parcels containing one, two or even three dozen golf balls which were being sent to Golf professionals based at golf clubs across the globe. I have never played golf or taken much interest in the sport, I am however a stamp collector and what I got out of this aspect of Uniroyal's business was the envelopes from around the world sent to Mr Davie. I had learned soon after starting in the job that being obliging and helpful to the bosses secretaries meant that I could ask for any stamps on incoming mail that interested me.

There was another bonus available to everyone employed at Castle Mills. This was the ability to buy discounted goods at the company shop located on Fountainbridge a few doors along from the factory. The shop was managed by a husband and wife team who were either or both retired former Uniroyal employees. Items on sale included car tyres, which could be purchased and then fitted for a charge by a garage near Viewforth, golf balls although there was a restriction on the quantity that could be bought to prevent 'selling on', footwear, Tredaire, rubber hose, etc. I remember buying a pair of rubber soled shoes, some Tredaire, and a length of garden hose for my dad at one penny per foot.

In early 1969 I was told that I would soon be moving into one of the offices that had a vacancy for a junior and I was given a bit of choice in which job I would like. I was only 16 at the time and had acquired a good knowledge of the functions of each office and the people who worked in them. My preference was to work in the office in the new hose factory in Viewforth although I did not disclose that this was primarily because I really fancied a gorgeous looking blonde haired girl who worked there. It was therefore agreed between Mr McGregor and his opposite number that I could start there on a given date. I duly turned up as arranged only to learn to my surprise that my predecessor in post was the blonde haired girl who had resigned her job as her family were all emigrating.......!

To be continued....

November 15 2014
 

RECOLLECTIONS OF AN ASSISTANT PRODUCTION PLANNER

Background

In February or March 1969, at the age of 16, I progressed from being a Postboy working in the Castle Mills main office building to become a Junior Clerk in the Materials Flow Division within the hose factory. My new office was located in the relatively modern hose factory building along Fountainbridge from Gilmore Park between Viewforth and Gibson Terrace. The room that we worked in was quite small and part of it was built on stilts directly above a portion of one of the the very large diameter steam vulcanisers used for curing rubber products. This meant that it sometimes got very hot in our office of which more later.

New colleagues

My new colleagues included Peggy McNeill who I think was in her 50's, and a somewhat younger Bill Dunsmore, to whom I directly reported, Ian Topple who was responsible for Expansion Joint production, and another 2 or 3 men and one young woman whose names, hard as I try to remember, completely escape me. Other than the number of orders and stock sheets arising on a daily basis that I had to check through as part of my new duties, I soon learned that my predecessor in post had been about two or three weeks behind with her paperwork when she left so there was a lot of catching up to do.

The first problem that I encountered however was much more of an everyday nature, i.e. what to drink my morning cup of tea out of. When I was in the postal unit we had a hot drinks machine just along the corridor from us which dispensed hot drinks in waxed paper cups, often carrying a Chinese Willow Pattern design, so I had never needed to have my own cup. Everyone in my new office participated in a 'tea club' the costs of which we all contributed to and everyone had their own cup or mug. I was issued with a spare cup which if I remember correctly had a dainty handle and lots of gilt floral decoration. One lunchtime a week or so later I walked along to Woolworth's at the top of Lothian Road and bought myself a much more manly looking mug which stayed with me for the rest of my time at Castle Mills, and beyond.

My new duties soon proved to be somewhat mundane and repetitive. They mainly involved the checking of carbon copies of despatch notes against stock sheets recording the levels of small bore wire braid hydraulic hose. This was manufactured in a variety of diameters and operating strengths for a number of industrial applications in various types of engines, pumps, etc.  To assist me in this task I had a manual hand crank 'Victor' adding machine which I soon got quite quick at using although I think that my colleagues found the noise of me rapidly hitting the keys and pulling the sum total lever a bit irritating.

Urgent order during the Trades Fortnight

One specific memory that I have of this time was during the 'Trades Fortnight' which in Edinburgh covered the first two weeks of July. All, or nearly all, production workers were on holiday and the only people on the factory floor were the maintenance teams of electricians, plumbers, pipe-fitters, etc, who were servicing the various items of machinery and lighting. In the offices there was a similarly small skeleton staff who would be taking their annual holidays at other times of the year. One day we learned that a somewhat unexpected order had been secured for a large quantity of short lengths of wire braid hydraulic hose. The complicating issue however was that the customer needed the goods virtually immediately i.e. within the next few days. A quick check confirmed that there was sufficient hose of the appropriate specification in stock but it needed to be branded to meet the customers' requirements i.e. have their name or logo applied, and cut into specific lengths. I was called upon to arrange this in consultation with the small team of stores personnel who were not on holiday. They rose to the task admirably and the order was fulfilled and dispatched on time. When the responsible senior staff returned from holiday we were all thanked for our efforts and I think my involvement in this event played an important part in my next 'promotion' which came a few months later.  

Office movements back and forwards 

It was around 1966 that tyre production ceased at Castle Mills and relocated to the new purpose built factory at Newbridge. When I took the train from home (Linlithgow) to work and back I passed the factory. It stood below the viaduct over the River Almond and the train afforded a very good view of the factory buildings. Once tyre production had started at Newbridge a number of supporting ad hoc departments/units, and the 'Royalite' production unit which still remaining at Castle Mills were also relocated to Newbridge. After these transfers had been effected work was put in hand to rationalise and relocate the remaining staff at Castle Mills who were now only involved in one way or another with the production of a range of hose products and rubber expansion joints for metal pipelines. An initial step in this grand scheme was for our team to temporarily relocate back across Viewforth into one of the vacant buildings closer to the old Head Office building. This area was above the blacksmith's/pipefitting/general maintenance unit. We duly arrived one Monday morning in our new office and had to spend a good deal of time locating our files and other paper records. We also had to get used to the different telephone extension numbers that we had inherited.

I think that we only stayed in these temporary offices for a few months before it was all move again back to where we had started although our old office had been refurbished, with some areas being made open plan, to better accommodate many more staff. Around the same time a greatly reduced canteen service was relocated below part of our offices into a space at the eastern end of the hose factory. I think that its fair to say that a 'class system' harking back to earlier days still existed in use of the canteen in that office staff and factory floor workers had access to it at separate meal times. Also relocated to the hose factory was a small stationery unit which was situated to the rear of the Security office/gatehouse with one member of staff being made responsible for ordering up and issuing supplies as needed.

More new colleagues

On our return to the hose factory we had several additional colleagues working closely alongside us including the Export sales team which comprised Alec Forbes, Eric Robinson, Andrew Malone, Fred Coutts, Ian Renton and another 4 or 5 whose names I can no longer remember. This was because apart from the people that I have named there seemed to be quite a regular turnover of the other members of this team; and it was over 40 years ago. One addition to the export sales team about a year later was Danny Hogg who soon proved to be the office joker, a real life and soul of the party type. A regular visitor to the sales team was Stan Watt whose primary role other than negotiating new contracts was in providing on-site technical support anywhere in the world to those companies that bought entire mono-mooring floating hose systems. He was a great source of stories about the far away places visited during his frequent globe-trotting trips, some of which undoubtedly rivalled what could often be seen in 'Whicker's World' on TV.   

An international dimension

As an international company Uniroyal had sales offices/agents in many nations a fact that I had been aware of from my days as a postboy. There was a particularly strong network throughout mainland Europe and it seemed to be company policy to transfer promising staff from such countries to the UK for a year or so in order that they could improve their knowledge of the company and its products; and also develop their English language skills. In particular I remember Heinz from the Geneva office in Switzerland, Manfred from Germany and Lars from Sweden. As an aside I think that I  once unintentionally upset Manfred by going on at length about a recently released war film that I had just seen at the cinema, possibly 'Where Eagles Dare' which I definitely saw in the cinema at that time. Oops!

Amazon oil hose and another new job

At this juncture Uniroyal was experiencing growing success in marketing its range of large diameter wire-cord strengthed rubber 'Amazon' hose for marine mono/single point mooring systems which it was possibly the market leader in. As well as permitting the export of oil from offshore oil rigs/platforms onto tankers, such systems also allowed oil tankers to take on or discharge cargoes of crude oil in deeper water offshore from oil terminals without having to navigate all the way through shallow waters to land based ports/harbours. Such hose came with the benefits, when compared with conventional fabric plied hose, of operating at much higher pressures, less elongation when in use and, greater flexibility thereby transmitting less strain to a tanker manifold assembly. As a result of an increase in production, and the other work related demands that this created,  I was  promoted to  'Assistant Production Planner' working directly to Joe McDougall. His boss in turn was Bob McGill who occupied one of the new offices created within the hose factory. Other rooms were occupied by Sandy Kay, the Factory Manager and his secretary Alice Smart. There was also a small team of 3 or 4 typists. The NBR Wrinklies website contains several references and photos of many other people that I can remember from my time at Castle Mills such as Mike Barrie, Jim Findlay and Jack Haddock to name but a few. However I can't remember if they permanently worked alongside us in the Hose Factory or if they were just frequent visitors from Newbridge, Heathhall, or Horseferry Road.

After a year or so Sandy Kay moved to a post in Japan and he was replaced as Factory Manager by Walter F Nutt who transferred from a position in the USA. Though I had little direct contact with Mr Nutt I found him to be perfectly pleasant and affable, although I sensed that my senior colleagues who had more direct interaction treated him with a bit more awe and respect as befitted his position. In time we were joined by a new personnel officer, Alex Boyce, who was a retired former Police Inspector.

Down on the Factory Floor

Joe McDougall adhered closely to the principle, which he reminded me of more than once, that a Production Planner's primary role was to ensure that 'The right product was made at the right time for the right cost'.  Therefore we had to try and ensure that all processes ran smoothly and that there was as little downtime as possible on the factory floor. While I took my instructions directly from Joe, my duties required me to work in consultation with a number of other people on the factory floor, primarily the relevant Production Manager, who was initially Davie (Duncan??), and then later George Evans, and the shift foremen namely Alec Morrow and two or three others whose names I can no longer remember. All the foremen in the factory were identifiable by the tan coloured canvas overcoats that they wore. I think that up until a few years previous they were also expected to wear black bowler hats.

While the office staff were allowed to take off their jackets while working at their desks there was an expectation that jackets would be worn when descending the stairs onto the factory floor. Certain standards had to be maintained! At a later stage following the introduction of new Health & Safety legislation everyone venturing out onto the factory floor also had to wear a plastic safety helmet. As these were made of 'Royalite' by Uniroyal the supply of these was not a problem. I think however that after a while adherence to the new rule was not as well observed as it should have been.

The factory floor was also a very noisy place, particularly because of the high speed machines that made the small bore wire braid hose. The operators of these machines always wore ear defenders and communicated with colleagues in a form of sign language. These machines also generated a lot of heat and were cooled by the application of solid carbon dioxide (dry ice). This in turn resulted in a need for very careful handling by the operators. All the while the overhead cranes were moving about as were a few forklift trucks at ground level. Against this potentially dangerous background I can only remember one occasion when an ambulance turned up to take away someone on a stretcher although I do not know whether they had been injured or had taken ill at work. It was probably the latter as I'm sure we would have heard a lot about the event had someone been seriously injured.

Manufacture of 'oil hose'

It might be useful at this stage to record for posterity the nature of the varied processes that went into the production of a single unit of large diameter 'Amazon' oil suction and discharge hose at Castle Mills. First of all there had to be a free mandrel of the correct diameter, i.e 4”, 6”, 8”, 10”, 12”, 16”, 20” or 24”, on which to build the hose. There were 4 or 5 mandrels of each diameter and these could be up to 50/60 feet long depending on the size. They were moved into position on the working lathes by the overhead cranes which I'm sure covered more than half of the factory floor area within the building. I might be wrong but I seem to recall that the cabin of one crane was painted red while the other was pale green. To access the cabins the operators had to climb up sets of fixed metal ladders adjoining the steel columns supporting the overhead gantries that held the crane running tracks in place, and the factory roof.

Once on a lathe the first task was to correctly position and clamp into place on the mandrels the metal nipples that formed the ends of each length of hose so that the final length of the hose, most commonly 30 feet, was correctly measured. I think that there was a small element of either shrinkage or expansion once the finished product was removed from the mandrel so a known predetermined allowance was factored into this stage of the process.

Lorryloads of mild steel nipples of various styles and sizes were delivered to the factory on an almost weekly basis. The supplier usually coated these with some form of oil based grease to prevent them from rusting. At the outward facing end of each conventional style nipple was a flange that could be either flat faced or slightly raised in the centre depending on the types of gaskets that would eventually be used when two sections of hose were bolted together. Given that the hose would be spending many years in seawater, the flanges, which would remain outside the protection of the rubber carcase, were invariably galvanised to inhibit corrosion. A different style of nipple, which is perhaps better referred to as a coupling, was needed for the high pressure hoses made for pumping mud down oil wells to cool and lubricate the drilling bit.

Before use the nipples had to have all the grease thoroughly removed. This was done by putting them into a vulcaniser for a couple of hours, usually along with some other items that were being steam cured. After being steam cleaned they were passed to 'Big Davy', he really was a big strong man, who operated the sand blasting equipment. This process completely removed all impurities from the surface of the nipples. He then painted an adhesive solution on the nipples to which was added a thin layer of rubber sheeting of the same quality as the inner tube of the hose to be made. As noted before the nipples were then clamped in place on the mandrel, which had been cleaned in advance with a solvent, and the inner tube was then applied along the mandrel between the two nipples.  I think that there may have been more than one layer of this material applied in this initial stage.

The next operation was to apply several closely held strands of wire in a 3 or 4 inch wide spiral along the length of the hose. There would be several passes along the hose until the entire surface area was covered. A layer of narrow width rubber sheeting was then applied on top of the wire. The process was then repeated from the opposite end with the wire and rubber being applied on the opposite axis. At least four layers of alternative wire and rubber, possibly as many as six layers, were applied at this stage of the process with additional layers being added as reinforcement at the ends over the nipples. The length of hose was then tightly bound in very long narrow canvas strips before being put into a vulcaniser for steam curing. Excluding curing time I think that the 'building' time could be several hours depending on the diameter and length of the hose. 

Once cured and sufficiently cooled, the canvas strips were removed and taken away for cleaning prior to reuse, and the second building phase commenced. This started with a coating of adhesive then a layer of rubber sheeting. This was then followed by a heavy duty copper coated wire being closely spiralled along the hose. The 'wire' was possibly between half an inch and one inch in diameter. The resulting one inch or so wide gaps were then filled with a continuous rubber extrusion applied along the hose within the wire. Next came more layers of rubber, again with additional reinforcement at the ends, and identifying markers made from rubber such as the 'Uniroyal' name and serial number of the length of hose were added in contrasting colours. Finally canvas strips were once again applied and the hose went back into the vulcaniser for a second cure. As with the first stage, this second 'building' stage could take several hours to complete.

On completion of the steam cure and cooling down time the hose was removed by pulling off the mandrel and pressure tested. I think that the working pressure was usually in the range of 200 to 250 psi so the pressure test was much, much higher. After the test the inside of the hose was visually inspected to ensure that there were no raised areas/bubbles or signs of collapse as sometimes happened. If I remember correctly the legendary internal tube failure was hose number 12454 which defied numerous attempts by George Dunnet and his technical team to find a way of repairing it. Eventually the hose had to be replaced by a second unit with the same number. George Dunnet was the technical expert behind  these hoses and in this regard he had a number of company owned patents jointly recorded in his name see -    http://patent.ipexl.com/inventor/dunnet_george_1.html While I might be wrong I thing that the faulty hose was eventually intentionally burst as part of an internal pressure test undertaken to confirm that the bursting pressure was about 5 times greater than the operating pressure i.e. safely far in excess of the operating pressure. 

Its perhaps worth noting that an order for say 60 lengths of 16 inch by 30 foot hose could take 6 to 8 weeks to complete from initial commencement, and that this stage was only reached after a 4 or 6 week lead in time had passed. The constraint on the lead in time was invariably the supply of the correct nipples while the production constraint was the availability of mandrels of the right size. A single length of hose could occupy a mandrel for about three days from initial setting up until removal of the finished hose for pressure testing. As a result of this lengthy construction time that it was usually only possible to manufacture hoses in response to two or more major orders concurrently if the diameters of the required hoses were different.  

It was usual for customers to require that the hose lines once installed on site would be positively buoyant in seawater, even when filled with liquid. The initial flotation system I recall was for several mono cellular floats to be applied around the outside of the hose. The brand name for the floats was 'Resinex' and they were made of expanded PVC by 'La Sebino Resine' at Sale Marasino in Italy. Rumour had it that the factory was remote from populated areas and staffed entirely by a workforce of elderly men. This was because inhaling the fumes given off during the manufacturing process eventually made the male workforce sterile. I'm not sure if this was true but a recent look on the internet suggests that this may indeed have been the case. However once made the floats posed no similar problem to other handlers.

Once applied to the hoses the floats were painted bright 'pillar box' red for the hoses that would float on the surface of the sea while the numerically fewer floats fitted on those lengths of hose that rose from the manifold on the seabed up to the mono mooring buoy were usually painted white.

Later on George Dunnet devised another method of keeping the hoses afloat using a different material that was applied externally to those hoses that were required to have positive buoyancy. The external covering of such material was invariably coloured  a sort of apricot orange. 

As well as the large diameter hose mentioned above our manufacturing responsibilities included the production of much smaller diameter, usually 3 or 3½ inch, high pressure hose in lengths of up to 60 feet. The working pressure for such hose was up to 7,500 psi, and it was used for handling the drilling mud that was continuously pumped down oil wells to cool and lubricate the drilling bit and remove the drill cuttings. I can also recall one order for ship to ship refuelling hose for ships whilst under way, I think that the order was for the Italian Navy and that the internal diameter of the hose was 6 inches. As with all the larger bore hoses made at Castle Mills any possible incompatibility with metric measurement was compensated for by the couplings at the end of each hose. Aluminium was used for the couplings on the ship to ship hose so that there would be no risk of sparks arising if two couplings ground together while being connected. However because of the enormous technical problems that arose during completion of this order, with a number of faulty units having to be scrapped, that it was decided never to seek an order for such hose again.

An important part of my duties involved me speaking on a daily basis with those workers who took their instructions directly from the planners, i.e. Joe and myself, rather than through the foremen. First and foremost was the 'cutting team' as we had to ensure that there was a continuous supply of neoprene (synthetic rubber) of the correct width and quality for use on the lathes. There were two or three men who worked on the cutting table preparing rolls of different qualities of neoprene for use in making the hoses. The newly made rubber sheeting, rolled in cotton material to prevent sticking, came to the table in long rolls with a width of about 6/8 feet. This was then rolled out the length of the table, which was possibly 30 feet long, for bias cutting into much narrower widths before being rolled again in narrower cotton sheeting of much the same width. Other 'teams' were 'Big Davy' on the sand blast machine, and the men who operated the machine that produced the drums of rubber extrusions.

One particular type of hose lining material that was sometimes made included a high percentage of 'Viton A', a chemical made by Dupont for use in 'aggressive chemical situations' such as the handling of LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas). Apparently this was an extremely expensive chemical and I'm sure that it used to be delivered in 'Securicor' vans and was kept in a very secure location before use.  Particular care was shown in handling materials using this chemical at all stages of the process.

A special project

Some time during 1971 Joe and I started working on a specific project, at the request of senior management, designed at producing a set of index cards detailing the exact quantities of materials used in making every size and length of oil and drilling mud hose made at Castle Mills. As part of the process we included known costs where available e.g. data from the time and motion studies staff, so that we could readily demonstrate the manufacturing cost of any single hose unit. However given the routine demands of our jobs this task could only be tackled when free time permitted, which wasn't often. After the first few index cards were produced the job became much more a number crunching exercise using known constants (the two built up ends of each hose) and variables (the intervening length of each hose). This was of course in the days before PCs, both Pocket Calculators and Personal Computers. Joe actually used a slide rule for many of the calculations needed, I was often amazed at the speed with which he used it. I was able to get overtime on a number of Saturday mornings which allowed me to make progress on the project which needed little or no supervision. While the task was never completed by the time that I left Castle Mills, I learned a couple of years later that the project had been designed to create a data set that would eventually ease the transfer of the manufacturing work to another factory!

Time and Motion studies and new innovative ideas  

It is probably fair to say that the most unpopular staff, at least in the eyes of the workers on the factory floor, were the time and motion studies personnel. All tasks and processes were timed and as well as determining specific manufacturing costs I think that wages and bonuses were paid in part by reference to the time that they had officially been recorded as taking. There were also limits on the time that workers could take in going to the toilet!

I think that it was in 1970 or 1971 that some new innovative ideas aimed at stimulating improved performance on the factory floor were introduced. These involved the setting of specific targets for certain groups of workers and the award of prizes to individuals within those teams that exceeded their targets. This involved a monthly get together on the factory floor at tea break time when some machines weren't working and the names of people working in the winning teams were drawn at random. Prizes were awarded but I can't remember what these might have been. This initiative was a bit of a bone of contention for office staff as we were specifically excluded from the process although we were expected to attend the prize winning ceremonies. A similar feeling of ill-will was also expressed by some colleagues over the fact that many shop floor workers got Christmas Hampers if they fulfilled the qualifying service requirements although these were never provided to office workers. I'm sure however that senior management knew best when it came to such matters.

I nearly cause a strike

During late 1971 there was a bit of a downturn in new orders for oil hose and as a consequence there was a marked reduction in the overtime that was routinely worked. Matters were brought to a head at one point by a stupid remark made by myself. I had been in the foremen's office discussing the forward work schedule for the coming weeks when the shop steward came in. One of the foremen asked me about a rumour about a marked reduction in new orders and thinking, actually not thinking, that I was doing the right thing, I said that I was sure that this wasn't the case. Unknown to me the shop steward (Laurie ----------?) had a meeting the following day with senior management to discuss a likely downturn in working hours over the coming weeks and he said at the meeting that Bruce Stewart had indicated that the order book was in a much healthier state than management were suggesting. Needless to say I was hauled over the coals for my off the cuff remark although it was quietly suggested to me that it looked as though it might have been a set-up job and that I had been deliberately manipulated into saying the wrong thing.

Hot and cold heating issues

I mentioned previously that it could get very hot in our office which had no external windows. I think that it was Eric Robinson who kept a thermometer on his desk and while routinely in summer the temperature could be well in excess of 80 degrees Fahrenheit, one day a temperature of 95 degrees was measured in the room above the vulcaniser! Needless to say jackets were off and neckties were loosened.  At the other extreme some parts of the complex could be pretty cold in winter. While there was no real problem in our offices or the main factory building, across the yard in the warehouse/stock storage area the temperature could be very low on cold winters day. Mobile jet engine type fan heaters were often brought into use to supplement the other fixed heating systems.

Impact of the miners strike and the 3 day working week  

The heating situation reached a totally unexpected low point during the miners strike of early 1972. In early February, a state of emergency was declared following a strike by members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and a couple of days later, a three day working week was introduced to save electricity. Later on the 19th February, after much negotiation, agreement on a pay offer was reached between the NUM and the Government. Picketing was called off, and on the 25th February, the miners accepted the offer in a ballot, returning to work on the 28th February.

During the three week strike the Government imposed a three day working week and electricity was only available on a rota basis. This meant the cessation of production on the factory floor when there was no power although I think that office staff had to attend for duty and when necessary our offices were heated with some paraffin heaters that did not need electricity to operate. The other determining factor in working however was light and while some 'Tilly' lamps/candles were provided, when the light got too poor it was a case of packing up for the day and going home, often to a house that also had no power.

Military Service of colleagues

It goes without saying that many of the employees at Castle Mills who were in their late 40s/early 50s had seen military service during the Second World War. While it was not something that people went out of their way to talk about this is what I learned about 5 colleagues -

Dennis Dawson – Was a member of a Bren gun carrier crew. He arrived at Belsen concentration camp the day after it had been liberated. He said that what he witnessed there was too horrible to talk about.

Frank Jenkins – I think that he had been a professional soldier in his youth and had seen service in Palestine and Malta with a Scottish infantry battalion, some of which was prior to 1939. He said that he had eventually reached the rank of Quartermaster Sergeant.  He also proudly wore a ring indicating that he was a 'Knight of the Order of St. John, of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta'. He had joined this august organisation while based in Malta.

Andrew Malone – Never said in my hearing what he did in the war but he had a very military bearing and often wore what looked like a regimental tie. It was rumoured that he had been an officer in a Guards Regiment during the war.

Joe McDougall – Was a rating in the Royal Navy and had volunteered for service in midget submarines. However the war ended before he saw active service.

Storeman whose name I cannot remember. - Was missing at least two fingers on one hand. Said that he lost his fingers while standing on a beach at the retreat from Dunkirk. A German shell exploded close to where he was standing and the blast blew the rifle he was carrying out of his hand along with the fingers.

My Castle Mills career progresses

Apart from a month off work in May/June 1970 recovering from surgery at the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh to fix a retinal detachment in my left eye I can say that my job ticked over quite nicely. I found what I was doing to be very interesting and providing me with a high level of job satisfaction. I've always had a good head for numbers and my duties were well within my capabilities.

It was during September 1971, shortly after my 19th Birthday that someone decided that I should go on day release to a College of Further Education in order to increase my educational qualifications. I had left school at the age of 15 with 'O' Grades in only History and Arithmetic. Alex Boyce researched the options and determined that the best one was to sign up for day release at Telford College which was located close to Crewe Toll/Ferry Road. I was unclear where the college was so it was arranged that 'Big Tam', the Castle Mills chauffeur, would drive me there and back in the company owned Austin Princess Vanden Plas. He routinely drove senior managers about in this car.  However while it was impressive looking the floor in the front passenger seating area had rusted through and the hole was covered by an off-cut of rubber sheeting. I duly signed up for Maths, French and English and passed all three subjects the following year. I went to Telford on Thursdays during term time by bus from the city centre and took my lunches in the college canteen. After a few weeks I noticed that the same two or three dishes were always on offer. On mentioning this to a full time student I learned that the canteen operated a five day menu and that if you only ever went on the same day of every week then you were always going to get the same menu. This experience certainly raised my opinion of the Castle Mills canteen.   

Mechanical Dinners and other matters

During my time at Castle Mills I attended two Mechanical Dinners, in 1971 and 1972. I cannot remember how I came into possession of the group photo of attendees at the 1971 Mechanical Dinner, I suppose that I must have bought the copy. Also at the 1971 Dinner I was sat alongside Joe Graham, the former Factory Manager (?), as someone knew that we were both interested in (postage) stamp collecting. Thus began a friendship that lasted a few years as Joe proposed me for membership of the Scottish Philatelic Society and we used to see each other at monthly meetings. My interest in stamp collecting waned a bit in 1976 however when I met Karen who I married in 1977. While it had been suggested to me that 'Philately would get me everywhere with women' I should have concentrated on sport instead as I met Karen playing putting in Princes Street Gardens, it was clearly more of a case of 'Getting a birdie'. Groan!

Redundancy looms

My somewhat cosy existence at Castle Mills was rudely interrupted on 17th January 1972  when I, among others, received a letter from Alex Boyce, Personnel Officer, advising recipients that 'Due to the phasing out of Wire Braid Hose production …..that certain staff functions will become redundant. Unfortunately your function is one of these that is being declared redundant ….. on 25th February 1972'. Needless to say I was in a state of shock, and outraged bewilderment as I worked on the oil hose side of things, not wire braid hose. The letter also advised that as well as any redundancy money that was due that Management proposed to make a severance payment of £20 to me. Redundancy pay was to be paid to those employees who had over two years continuous service. While I had worked at Castle Mills since May 1968, I then discovered that to add insult to injury that my 'continuous service' only counted from 8 August 1970, my 18th Birthday. So it looked as though I was only due to get the £20 severance payment added to my end February salary. Two days later on 19th January I received a very short, incredibly bland, reference addressed 'To whom it may concern'. Lets just say that after this double whammy that I was not a happy bunny.  

Finding a new job

I now had about 5 weeks in which to find a new job before I fell out of employment. I think that I responded to about a dozen newspaper advertisements, and was also advised to apply for the Civil Service by a Job Centre that I visited. My applications resulted in about half a dozen acknowledgements and three interviews; and eventually two job offers. However during this period discussions that I was totally unaware of were taking place behind closed doors. I eventually found out that Frank Jenkins, the Factory Planner i.e. the person responsible for arranging the manufacture and supply of all rubber feedstock products for the various divisions within the factory, had gone to senior management pointing out that he was due to retire soon and he wanted to know what the company was proposing to do to replace him. He seemingly viewed me as the heir apparent to his job and he eventually persuaded others to agree with him. My impending redundancy was therefore revoked and I was eventually issued with a new 'Statement of Terms of Employment' on 24th March.  However a few days earlier I had received a job offer from the Civil Service Central Recruitment Section appointing me to the Scottish Education Department. I now had a very difficult decision to make and I decided to accept the Civil Service job. I therefore left Uniroyal on 5 May 1972 and started work in the Scottish Education Department on 8 May. 

Thus ended what I look back on as 4, almost to the day, very happy years at Castle Mills. I maintained contact with Joe McDougall for several years thereafter, and I was invited back to the Mechanical Dinner in March 1973 when it was good to renew some other friendships, if only for the one evening.

Also when I was 21 in August 1973 a number of my former colleagues at Castle Mills joined me at the party that I held to mark the event. I think that it was at that time that I learned that the writing was on the wall for the cessation of hose manufacture at Castle Mills. Subsequently as will be known to all NBR Wrinklies the hose factory closed in November 1973 and manufacturing of oil hose was transferred to Italy. I think that only George Dunnet, Stan Watt and Ian Cameron went to Italy for a short period as a start up advisory team.

Postscript

As a postscript I spent 40 years working for the Scottish Office/Executive /Government slowing climbing a few rungs of the ladder. For the last 20 of these years I worked in the Fisheries Group of the Environment and Rural Affairs Department which eventually became 'Marine Scotland'. During this time I dealt with a range of marine environmental issues including fisheries liaison, dumping at sea, offshore oil and gas, marine pollution from oil fields and shipping, and the very thorny question of the proposed ship to ship transfer of oil between tankers moored in the Firth of Forth. As it turns out my time working in the hose factory at Castle Mills provided me with a ready understanding of many of the issues that I had eventually to work on.

J. Bruce Stewart

November 2014

 


October 13 2011

TOM LEE & BOB THOMPSON
Jim Finlay tells us:
Margaret and I paid a visit to Tom Lee on Sunday 18th September in an excellent Nursing Home where he is being well looked after in the Camberley area of Surrey. He was in fine fettle and apart from his legs which are now very weak and have forced him into a wheelchair he is as good as you could expect from a man now in his 88th year. He still supports West Ham football club but is obviously disappointed with their present dismal position. There is a medical centre adjacent to the home with 5 doctors in residence so they have good medical support when needed. Tom has a daughter in New York and one in Surrey who calls regularly to visit him on her way to and from Heathrow where she works for BA. Tom sends his regards to all his old friends.

 

We also met up with Bob and Kay Thompson who have recently moved into the Camberley area from Hampshire. Bob was our Conveyor Belting Guru for many years travelling extensively to faraway places to keep Heathhall busy. He has a son and family in the area so they have help if needed. They both keep busy socially and were looking great. Bob will be visiting Tom Lee shortly as they are quite close in distance.

 

 

February 27 2011

We are indebted to Neil Niblett who was tidying up his family photos and came across some photos which might revive some memories . Neil’s Aunt was Olga Niblett who worked for the North British Rubber Company for 46 years. 

 Miss Olga Niblett

She had a successful career and eventually became personal secretary to the late John Coutant who became joint managing director of NBR in1949
Eventually Mr Coutant became managing director of the USA organization
Neil’s aunt went out to America to work for the USA  organisation as PA for John Coutant  in 1953 until her retirement in 1965. Neil tells us that John Coutant held her in great affection having read some of the correspondence between them

 


Sadly Olga died in the late 80's. Neil is hopeful that people in our Association 
 who are still alive today who remember Olga and John Coutant,will let us know

 

Above are two photos of John Coutant who was MD of NBR in 1949 


This is the NB News  from December 1965,which tells us about Olga's retirement and her career.
 Neil hopes this will  jog some old employees memories and hopefully tell us their memory of Olga 


January 17 2011

July 1961

50 Years of Golf on the Braid Hills
The Castle Mills Club celebrates its half-century next year

    With the redecorated club-room of the Castle Mills Golf Club, publicized in our June issue 
at the time of the Annual Castle Mills v WEBA match, it seems appropriate to recall something
 of the club’s history for the benefit of newer personnel. In doing so we quite literally and
with grateful thanks from a history written specially for NB News  of January 1953 by Mr Luke , 
President of the Old Timers Association, who was an original member.

    It seems that Castle Mills Golf Club was founded in 1912, and so celebrates its half century
next year. It is therefore a generation younger than Weba, which is in its 75th year.


The benefits of Membership

    The strength of Castle Mills numerically has varied over the years, and only a few years
 ago the future was doubtful because many of our newcomers were non-golfers. The pendulum
 has begun to swing the bother way. Through the initiative of our Managing Director, a keen
 golfer himself, the club room facilities at the4 Braids have had a most welcome face-lift. 
The Club’s future is again bright.

    To those, who aren’t members of a course owning club, and who play their golf on what 
can be justifiably be called “one of the most sporting and cared for municipal courses in the
world” membership at Castle Mills is a real snip. For a modest sum per annum you have a
 private clubroom with lockers, washing facilities and bar. 

What better could one wish for. And of course, there are numerous club competitions , 
including some exclusive to members of Braid Hills, not forgetting the friendly atmosphere
 characteristic of the club throughout its 49 years.

    If you’re a Braids player, or even play there only now and again, ghet in touch with 
the present Secretary W. Murray, 25 Watson Crescent Edinburgh.

    The bigger the membership the more secure the club will be. And surely every golfer 
knows what it means tohave the benefits and status of club membership.







January 2011
Here is a copy of the photos in NB news of January 1962 of the 
Annual Castle Mills Staff Dance

 


December 15 2009

 

 

Willie Fraser

Recently Mrs Patricia Davidson, the daughter of Willie Fraser, who retired from NBR in 1967 as Purchasing Manager  offered to share some of the memories of her father and others at Castle Mills.

We are indeed grateful that Tom Bartlett managed to persuade Patricia to join the Rinklies Pensioners lunch recently at the Bruntsfield Golf club. We also owe Martin Hale a big thankyou for all his hard work including scanning the pictures s from Patricia and forwarding them to the Editor
The editor needs help with names

 

 

This large picture has been divided into three sections to enable viewers to be able 
to better identify those shown--

4th from left Front Row Louise ford (Louie)

Below is the photo of Willie's group at lunch on his day of retirement
with a copy of the signed Menu on the day

 





1/ Joe Graham 2/  Charlie Blyth, 3/ Tom Miller, 4/ Not Known, 5/ Jimmie Ainslie, 6/ Jimmy Aitchison, 7/ Willie Fraser, 8/ Laurie Jay, 9/ Peter Clark, 10/ Alan Watt, 11/ Les Corbett, 
12/ Jimmy Grant, 13/ Bob Welsh, 14/ John Wilkie, 15/ Reg Cryer

Thanks to John Campbelton we have a full house except for Number 4 
if you can help to solve the missing one please contact


e-mail editornbrinklies@aol.com


 

 

Below are three pictures Two of tennis and one of a soccer team which we believe is pre WW2
If anyone can help with identities it would be appreciated

The top picture with two players is Willie Fraser in 1930

 

 

 

Below are Golf Pictures from Ratho

 
 

 

Below are a couple of pictures of Staff Dinners

 

 

 

 

 

September 11 2008

Dick Bell
We are very proud of Dick who has done an exceptional job in the rubber business from his start in Castle Mills.  He made comments to the Editor as follows:

I started in the compound mixing lab, just inside the gate with Willie Cunningham and Jimmy McKeachie as teachers. I well remember Willie getting all dressed up and going of to his 40th celebration lunch at the Caledonian. Probably in 1966.

The point is it was amazing to hear daily from folks who had 40 years then and could talk about the days of rubber processing before synthetics, the war years that drove so much innovation due to shortages and caused the advancements in reclaim technology.

My educational mentor was of course Wilf Salisbury. I went to his house every Monday from 7.00-9.00 for three years and he just talked rubber compounding. Contrast that with being in the shop floor environment with guys like Willie Tucker, Willie Williamson, Jim Daly (and his pipe), Bob McGregor, Bob Simpson all chasing you for performance of the stocks and characters like John Shaw adding spice to the mix in all the lively morning meetings.

On top of all that were guys like Sandy  and you, whom as youngsters we held in awe.
Castle Mills was indeed unique learning ground.

It was great for me to get to work more closely with Sandy during his time in Japan, he 
did an amazing pioneering job of setting up what is to-day a half billion dollar business. 
He is still revered as the father of the company by many whom he mentored during the
 Unitta start up days.

Below is the announcement by the Tomkins Company of Dick's retiral

Announcement

Tomkins announces today that Richard Bell has decided to retire from the Group on 31 December 2008 after 43 years of service. Mr. Bell is presently the Chairman of The Gates Corporation and Chief Operating Officer, Industrial & Automotive of Tomkins plc.

Richard started work as a Laboratory Assistant in the compound mixing laboratory in a US Rubber Co. facility in Castle Mills, Edinburgh in 1965. He progressed through various laboratory positions and then became a factory compounder, having completed studies in Chemistry and Rubber technology at Napier University in Edinburgh over a six year period on a day release scheme sponsored by the company. He progressed to product development manager and eventually Technical Director of the European belt business.

Richard moved into General Management when he became Managing Director of the Unitta joint venture in Japan in 1979. He progressed through senior positions in Australia, Germany and Belgium before moving to the United States in 1996 as President of North America Power Transmission. In 1997 he became President of the Worldwide Power Transmission business and took on the additional role of President of Gates in 2002. In 2007 he assumed his current positions.

Effective upon Mr. Bell ‘s retirement Jim Nicol, Chief Executive Officer of Tomkins plc, will assume the role of Chairman of The Gates Corporation and Alan J. Power will take on the role of Executive Vice President, Industrial & Automotive, in which capacity he will be responsible for all of the Group’s Industrial & Automotive businesses other than The Gates Corporation. Richard will assist Jim and Alan in the transition of these responsibilities prior to his retirement.

Tomkins would like to express its sincere thanks to Mr. Bell for his contributions and efforts since the Group acquired The Gates Corporation on 9 July 1996.

Jim Nicol said: "I am very grateful to Richard for the many important contributions which he has made to Gates and Tomkins over his distinguished career. On behalf of everyone at Tomkins I would like to thank him for his long and dedicated service and extend him every good wish upon his retirement."

Tomkins plc

East Putney House
84 Upper Richmond Road London SW15 2ST
www.tomkins.co.uk
London, Tuesday 02 September 2008

 

April 17 2008       

Dougie Forbes presented with a special award attended by 
some well known personalities

                           

                           
             February 14 2008


 Presentation by Foster Stewart (holding club) to Chief Constable Willie Merrilees

From Left to right ;Jock Paterson, Chief Constable Willie Merrilees,  Tom Davie, Norman Welsh, Foster Stewart,  Bob Ritchie and Jim Evans.

21/3/08--The editor is very grateful to John Campbelton 
for his help in identifying the missing names


**********************************************************

  May 18 2006                  
Some Memories of Heathhall & Castle Mills


at Dumfries
 Back Row: L to R---The late Gilbert Crerar, Tony Ducket , Steve Mowat
Front Row L to R--- Dorothy Lowe,  Norma Crerar, and Monica Mowat
(
Jimmy Lowe was the absentee husband swanning it in the USA as Product Manager for 
Footwear and Treadaire)


At Dumfries
Back Row L to R:  John Wall,  Vic Chapples,  Jimmy Lowe
Front Row L to R:  Sheila Chapples,  Dorothy Lowe,  Elma  Wall


Dumfries Factory Dance--
the staff tended to split up to sit with other guests
***********************************************************************

Castle Mills Lab Staff 1948



As this was such a large picture it has been  divided into two halves to 
allow for better recognition of the smiling faces
        BOSS  JACK ROBERTSON  WITH  MOUSTACHE SEATED IN CENTER      

A request --if anyone can recognize others please let the Editor know 
My e-mail is editornbrinklies@aol.com



The left half of the Castle Mills Lab Staff photo above
Front Row : 4th from right Dorothy Young and 6th from right partly hidden Jimmy Lowe
Dorothy Young became Dorothy Lowe and are still enjoying each other's company  in Dumfries



The Right half of the Castle Mills Lab Staff photo above
second front row : 6th and 7th from right are Jenny and Alec Wilson



A Presentation in the The Rotocure department by Mr Johnstone 
Factory Manager, 
Jimmy Lowe is fourth from  left and Orphy Smith is third from left. 
At the time Smith was Millroom Manager and on loan from the U.S.



Presentation to Jamie Baird (Left) by Alec Wilson First Technical Manager 
at Heathhall. Jamie Baird was employed to develop and manufacture 
Latex Foam Cushions. The project was abandoned after four years.

The McMinn sisters, Girl One is immediately behind Jamie Baird and Girl two
is immediately behind Alec Wilson. Girl One emigrated to Canada but flew 
the Atlantic in a twin engined aircraft and landed at Heathhall aerodrome for a visit. 
 Girl Two was in the final of the Miss Scotland competition--great ladies 
************************************************