Welcome to NBR Wrinklies
The Start 1856
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The History of the first 50 years
fascinating record of Editors visit in 1909
New Comments on the Start
This could be sacrilege
The 117 years of Life at Castle Mills
More about the first Manager at NBR
One of the first Managers of North British 1860-1866
Stretch a Mile North British Rubber
Memorandum of Association of NBR
Louise Dixon Contract 1855
May 28 2013
A history lesson by the Editor of the Rubber Journal 1909
Scotland’s Great Rubber Factory
The factories of the North British Rubber Co. Ltd are, to be sure, situated in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the great industry is Scottish , but in it’s beginnings it was American. I had long wishes to visit these mills, and when the way opened to go by automobile from London to Edinburgh, I was prompt in taking advantage of it. The 400 mile journey over the “Great North Road” was a dream; perfect weather, taverns, clumsy police traps, friendly cyclists, who exposed them. All was new to me and enjoyable from start to finish. Then, too, when we reached the Scottish Highlands and finally entered beautiful Edinburgh the interest did not cease, in fact it was augmented. Of course we visited Holyrood and all the other historic places, but it is not of these but of the great rubber mill that this story shall treat.
The factories are very near the heart of the city, and Mr Johnston, the secretary, and general works superintendent at once made me welcome. To describe in detail the patterns of boilers, the modern power plant, ther huge spre4ader room, the much greater grinding room, or to tell the size of the various departments—rubber shoes, clothing, sundries, mechanical goods, and tires – would take far too much space. A few figures as to equipment, however, are pertinent; Number of hands employed, about 4000, area covered by the work about 8 acres, floor space 388,775 square feet; daily coal consumption, 120 tons; horse power of engines 4000. There are 16 boilers, 25 calenders, 77 mixing and grinding mills, 35 vulcanising pans, 75 vulcanizing presses of different dimensions, 32 spreading machines, and 34 rubber washers. There is also a Fire Brigade, embracing a chief, captain, two lieutenants, and 35 uniformed men.
Altogether the great Edinburgh concern is an aggregation of rubber factories, perfectly equipped, modern, successful---a company that markets its goods the world over. In China for example, the North British “Scales Chop” and “Lion Chop” mean best quality rubber goods. The story of the beginnings of this great industry and of Henry Lee Norris, however have never been told in print until now.
In view of the historic interest attaching to this important rubber factory it seems proper to introduce here a brief sketch of it’s foundation and progress prepared for the use of the Indian Rubber World, in the latter part of 1902, by Mr William Firth, then Secretary of the North British Rubber Co. a position which he held continuously from the beginning, and from which he retired in 1905, after 48 years service, the statement which follows is precisely as written by Mr Firth
Mr FIRTH’S STATEMENT
In the autumn of 1855 Henry Lee Norris, of Jersey City, and Spencer Thomas Parmelee, of New Haven Connecticutt, arrived in Scotland for the purpose of working a patent or patents of Goodyears for the manufacture of India rubber overshoes and boots. These patents were held by William Judson, advocate, of New York.
These two gentlemen landed in Glasgow and began by searching for a suitable factory. None appearing in Glasgow they went eastward to Edinburgh, there found a suitable building, which had been created a few years before as a silk mill at a cost of about #50,000. This they rented and as it was only partially occupied, they got almost immediate possession. A fine pair of condensing steam engines and boilers were included in the lease, so that shortly after midsummer 1856 they found themselves ready to begin operations.
The firm was styled Norris & Co. Mr Norris being General manager and Mr Parmelee works superintendent. The other shareholders were William Judson, Benjamin F Breeden, John Ross Ford, Christopher Meyer, James Bishop, and James A. Williamson, all of New York and neighborhood. The company was formed with 100 shares each being #100. The first parcel of overshoes were sold in August 1856 to Mr James Dick, who was then about founding gutta-percha shoe making in Glasgow that resulted so successfully for himself, and, through his munificence , for that city. The firm of Norris & Co existed until 1857, when the firm limited act in Great Britain came into force, when that firm was dissolved and a new company was formed by the same shareholders and registered (about the first in Scotland) under that act as the North British Rubber Co. Limited.
The same year saw the extensions of the company’s operations to the manufacture of belting, hose, and mechanical articles, and also to the manufacture of combined cloth and rubber shoes, a branch which the company introduced and which is now a very important one in the rubber shoe industry. An improvement in the manufacture of rubber belting was patented about this time and has become the standard method . The products of the company kept steadily increasing in volume and in favor and the balance sheet for 1857 was decidedly encouraging.
n 1858, the three year lease of the mills was expiring, having been hypothecated to a bank, came into the market and was bought by the sagacious manager for about one-sixth of the original cost and included in the price the 5 1/2 acre so suitable and convenient for expansion in which the mills were situated at a very small annual fee. Henceforth the success of the company with careful management was assured.
Mr Norris retired from the management in 1860 and was succeeded by the late D D Williamson of New York, for five years, when Mr Norris again took charge till 1871 , when he was succeeded by W.E. Bartlett of New York, who with the Board of Directors conducted the company until his death in May 1900.
In 1863, an unfortunate fire took place in the south mill by which it was completely destroyed, and the east partially. Fortunately the North Mill, where the shoes and waterproof clothing were made, was preserved, and with very little delay the damage was repaired and the work in the damaged part resumed. The effect of the fire was to transfer the chief ownership of the works from American to Scotch shareholders, for it was many years thereafter before the property could be insured even at the very high rates of premium demanded by the insurance companies, and indeed not until the introduction of automatic sprinklers ( the invention of Mr Henry Parmelee, of New York, son of the first works manager of the company) could the mills and there contents be fully covered by insurance. The great risk thus incident to there holdings led several of the American shareholders to part with there shares; these were readily taken over by Edinburgh capitalists who had confidence in the scotch directors that had been chosen in 1860 to cooperate with the manager . The first Scotch directors were John Murdoch, Solicitor; Hugh Rose, merchant, and William Thomson ship owner all of Leith. All the American shareholders were practically directors till 1865, and John R. Ford, Christopher Meyer, and Benjamin F. Breeden for some years longer. Several managers were also directors pro tem.
The American works superintendent besides Mr Parmelee were for varying periods. Messrs Stevey, Douglas, Hyatt. and Harris—Mr Douglas alone remaining. The original North British Rubber Co. founded in 1857 existed for 31 years ending in 1888. Whenjhaving expanded to the utmost limit allowed by it’s constitution, it was wound up and the present company was formed with increased capital, and increased provisions for further expansion. It’s capital is #350,000, all paid up , there being 2000 #100 shares, 2000 #25 shares, all ordinary or dividend earning shares, and 5000 #20 preference shares at a fixed dividend.
The company has been fairly successful and has originated several novelties in the rubber industry in boots, shoes, clothing, piston packing, belting, hose etc, and notably in pneumatic tires for bicycles and motors. The first detachable pneumatic tire was the “clincher”, of which all others are in principle only imitations.
The company has branches in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds. Newcastle on Tyne, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Brussels, and agencies in Paris, Hamburg, Constantinople etc.
The company has been a great boon to the industrial classes of Edinburgh giving employment directly to about 2500 operatives and to many more indirectly. It has a trained Fire brigade that drills fortnightly with a portable fire engine and two fire pumps, with which ten nozzles can be supplied with abundance of water taken from a canal forming the boundary of one side of the works.
The 51/2 acre park is now completely covered with buildings carrying on operations, and the company recently purchased and adjoining park on which meantime buildings for storage purposes alone have been so far erected, but which is available for further expansion. The company is presently in charge of Mr R G Stewart and the board of five directors.
Under Mr Williamson’s management the Scottish Vulcanite Company was started to develop or work some patent or patents held by Mr Judsonand still exists. It’s works adjoin these of the North British Rubber Co and it now produces celluloid as well as vulcanite.
It will be seen by what has preceded that the North British company have figured largely in the history of the rubber industry. To mention tires alone, their Mr William Erskine Bartlett could well lay claim to what is accepted type of automobile tire today, although the same principle was involved in the American invention covered by the “G & J” patents. What happened was that the North British Company could not do business in America , and the “G & J’ people could not do business in Great Britain. But Michelin in France, where the automobile was developed mwas hampered by neither patent, and did very much business. Similarly the ‘Dunlop’ Tire was developed simultaneously in both continents, so that the existing British Dunlop tire company were obliged to buy up identical American and English patents to control in the world’s trade of type of tire, which made them famous. But more than That they were obliged to buy up Bartlett’s patent ---the product of a young American engaged in the tea trade in New York at $1,500 per year until his brother-in-law Mr Norris invited him to Edinburgh. It is no secret that the Dunlop Company paid $973300 to the North British Rubber Co for the Bartlett patent, leaving them the right to make and sell tires under the same patent. How many “Dunlop” and how many “Bartlett” (clincher) tires , respectively have been sold by the Dunlop company will never be known.
There are a few points in Mr. Firth’s statement which require comment at this time, but on the whole it is sufficient to recall that it was written some years ago. The Scottish Vulcanite Co., Limited, have been liquidated (see The Indian Rubber world, December 1, 1907—page 75), but this was not an integral part of the North British Rubber Co., Mr. Ramsey G. Stewart—a Scotchman—retired recently from the management, after a successful career. There are now no Americans in charge off departments but some of those named in Mr. Firth’s account were in time important in the American rubber industry. The heirs of more than one of the American founders still hold and prize shares in the North British company. There still lives in New York, in his 85th year, John Murphy, who began rubber work at the age of 21 and who went to Edinburgh to get the Scottish Vulcanite Co., going. The original plant had been used in New York but was put out of business by an adverse decision in a patent suit.
AMERICAN FOUNDERS OF THE NORTH BRITISH COMPANY
Henry Lee Norris, born in 1813 at Salem, Massachusetts, then an important shipping port, received a business training in New York ‘City, and at the age of 23 was in charge of a warehouse of the Roxbury India Rubber Co. Pioneers in the rubber industry in America—several years before vulcanization was known. In 1842 he went to Brazil for a short time, returning later as resident partner at Para of Bishop Norris and Co. He remained there for some years, serving for a while as United States consul and made a thorough study of the rubber situation. It was on account of the market for rubber at New York becoming glutted, that he decided to open a new market abroad, and this led to his going to Edinburgh, where he took some machinery, and a few operatives from a rubber in which he as interested at New Brunswick, New Jersey. Mr. Norris resided in Edinburgh at various times while in charge of the affairs of the North British Rubber Company and died in the United States in 1881.
Spencer Thomas Parmelee, born 1805 with L. Cander and Co. rubber shoe manufacturers-- with Ford and Meyer rubber manufacturers 1851; at Edinburgh 1855 to 1858; died in America 1875. His son, Henry S. Parmelee became a successful railroad man.
It may be mentioned that without exception the gentlemen referred to in the preceding notes held an important relation to the American rubber industry , and their reason for investing capital in Europe was that the American filed in those days had been filled so completely.
This article has come from Wikipedia’s reference to the Hunter Boot
Several new items are found –for example the sale of the W E Bartlett tyre patent to Dunlop in 1907 for a sum of $973,000 (today it would be worth $200,000,000)
the first week of January 1856 Mr Henry Lee Norris, an American
City, New Jersey, and his friend and partner Spencer Thomas
Parmelee of New
Haven, Connecticut, landed on Scottish
soil for the purpose of working a patent
Goodyear for the manufacture of India-rubber overshoes and
boots. The two gentlemen landed in Glasgow and began by searching for a
suitable factory, which they eventually found in the form of the Castle
Silk Mills in Edinburgh.
A fine pair of condensing steam engines and boilers were included in the
lease, which they were able to take up almost immediately due to the
mill's partial occupation at the time. The pair were ready to begin
operations in the midsummer of 1856. Originally the company was styled as
Norris & Co., which existed until the first limited
liability act was introduced to Great
Britain - the North British Rubber Company was registered as a
limited liability company in September 1857.
was eventually succeeded at the company by William Erskine Bartlett, a man
who could well lay claim to the invention of what is considered to be the
accepted type of car tyre today. It is a little known fact that in
circa.1907, the fledgling British Dunlop
tyre company purchased the 'Bartlett' patent from the North British Rubber
Company for $973,000 USD, in order to acquire the rights to manufacture
and distribute tyres under the same name. It is estimated that, today, the
patent would be worth in excess of $200,000,000 USD.
company not only made rubber boots - production included tyres, conveyors,
combs, golf balls, hot water bottles and rubber flooring. In the beginning
there were only four people working for the company, by 1875 the team had
grown to 600 members of staff.
War I and II
of wellington boots were dramatically boosted with the advent of World
War I when the company was asked by the War Office to construct
a sturdy boot suitable for the conditions in flooded trenches.
The mills ran day and night to produce immense quantities of these trench
boots. In total, 1,185,036 pairs were made to cope with the Army's demands. The
Wellington boot was an object of envy by the German soldiers during WWI
and its dependability was seen to contribute to the British army’s
December 7 2010
Below is a copy of an e-mail the Editor received today--it appears to me that it is
well worth supporting this effort by Forth & Borders Cases Panel
The Editor subsequently received this:
The consultation period has lapsed but it may still be worthwhile
emailing the planning officer firstname.lastname@example.org
Failing that, you should contact the councillors that cover the area
Jim.Lowrie@edinburgh.gov.uk email@example.com and
Having used your site I should have alerted you earlier but I did draw
it to the attention of Merchiston Community Council and I'm aware that
through them some other individuals have objected.
Not sure if you are aware that the last remaining buildings of the
NBRC are subject to a planning application that would find them
erased. We have strongly objected to this as we are of the opiniuon
that the building is an important part of Edinburgh's, sadly
neglected, industrial history.
The planning application is here
on behalf of
Forth & Borders Cases Panel
The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland
The Glasite Meeting House
33 Barony Street
Edinburgh EH3 6NX
Tel: 0131 557 0019
Fax: 0131 557 0049
The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS) is a registeredcharity: SC 007554 REG The Society is registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee: SC356726
To read the full details of the letter please click here
THE HISTORY OF CASTLE MILLS-- 117 years
November 16, 1973, saw the end of an
era in Scottish history. After 117
years, which encompassed many social and industrial changes, and gigantic leaps
in the progress of mankind---Castle Mills is no more.
From the year the Castle Mills
story began for us in 1856, when Queen Victoria was on the throne, until its
closing in 1973, this great factory has been the backcloth for many exciting
developments and many human dramas, outlasting the life-spans of vast numbers of
What has Castle Mills seen
during its long and distinguished life?
The story begins on a grey day
in January 1856, when an American merchant ship, the Harmonia, arrived in the
Clyde with a cargo of machinery and skilled workers who were to found the first
vulcanized rubber plant in Scotland.
The man in charge of this pioneering
venture was an American, Henry Lee Norris, whose descendants still hold an
interest in our company. How Norris
happened to come to Scotland at all is to be found in the history of patents in
the rubber industry. Charles
Macintosh, the man who brought the word macintosh in to the English language,
discovered the use of purified naphtha as the solvent for raw rubber in 1823 and
set up his water-proof factory in the vicinity of Glasgow.
Charles Goodyear started using the sulphur vulcanization process in 1839,
and Thomas Hancock, of Charles Macintosh & Co., Manchester, in 1843.
In the battle for patents, Goodyear, who had been forestalled by Hancock
in England, took advantage of the requirements that a separate patent was
necessary for Scotland and beat Hancock North of the Border in 1844.
Norris and Co. acquired from Goodyear the right to make the improved
rubber products in Scotland.
Henry Lee Norris engaged for his
Edinburgh mills four New Yorkers skilled in the manufacture of rubber
footwear---Louis Dixon, Sophia Terry, Hannah Dixon and Walter P. Dunn.
It was something of a fluke that he chose Edinburgh for the new
enterprise and not Glasgow, for Norris had looked unsuccessfully for
accommodation in Glasgow. Finally,
he took over the Castle Silk Mills, which had been vacant for a while on the
north bank of the Union Canal near its terminal in Ports Hamilton and Hopetoun.
The feu-duty, a piece of land granted forever on payment of an annual
rent, for the silk mills was “two pennies on the pint of ale in favour of the
City of Edinburgh”, which suggests that the location had been intended at one
time for a brewery. How wry a stroke of fate that the Scottish and Newcastle
Breweries are taking over the factory site now…
Norris and his group of New Yorkers (
the women earning a dollar a day and men a dollar and a half), using the 370-worth of machinery they had brought with them,
began teaching the trade to Edinburgh workers.
By 1857, the company had been registered as the North British Rubber
Company Limited, and from making boots and shoes, they rapidly progressed to
rubber belting and hose. By 1869,
the firm was employing 600 operatives turning out a vast variety of articles,
and in 1870 a new type of demand came in when the development of the road
steamer, or traction engine, started the tyre trade.
A milestone, indeed.
It was a Scotsman, R.W. Thomson, who introduced his “road steamer”, the wheels of which were covered with rims of vulcanized rubber. The tyres, weighing 750 lbs., were made by the North British Rubber company. The first set was fitted to a four-wheeled traction engine, and was tested on roads between the factory and the outlying village of Balerno in 1875. The traction engine was used for farm work in the Balerno district for many years. It led to the beginning of an export trade, several sets of tyres being sent abroad to India.
Another major breakthrough came in 1890 with the invention of the detachable pneumatic tyre by the company’s own Managing Director, W.E. Bartlett. This was the basis of all subsequent tyre development. It was known as the “ClincherTyre” and manufacture was started at Castle Mills that year.
From then on, the story
of the North British Rubber Company is one of steady expansion.
One commodity after another was added to the extensive list of their
enterprises, until finally it became the largest industrial unit in Edinburgh,
occupying 22 acres, right in the heart of the city.
Over these many years, just about everything that can be made of rubber
(except, oddly enough, tennis balls) has poured from this great factory:
giant hoses, rubber sheeting, conveyor belting, tyres, equipment for
heavy industry, for hospitals and shipbuilders, motor and aircraft industries,
water, gas and electrical engineers---all these, and many more, reight down to
hot-water bottles, golf balls, combs and even fruit jar rims!
WORLD WAS HOLOCAUST
The turn of the century came and went. Queen Victoria dies; The Edwardian days gave promise of never-ending prosperity. In 1910 the North British Rubber Company purchased the Scottish Vulcanite Company, formed in 1861 for the purpose of making vulcanite combs. And in 1911 the started to manufacture gold balls. By 1914, the Company was able to furnish a room and the International Rubber Exhibition with nothing but rubber. The walls were paneled in rubber. The floor was covered in Rubber---even the curtains were of a fine rubber fabric. All the furniture was of processed rubber, as were the pens and ink-stands.
But then came the holocaust of
the first world war.
Like other great industrial
concerns, the North British Rubber Company was called upon to make a quick and
drastic adjustment when the war broke out.
The response was magnificent. Between
1914 and 1918, without pause, the Company produced in enormous quantities
equipment as vital to victory as guns and shells.
They gave their lives
At the outbreak of war in August 1914, 440 men from Castle Mills immediately joined the colours, and later a total of 500 joined up during the course of the war, some never to return to Castle Mills. There were 160 employees of the Company who gave their lives for their country.
THE WAR EFFORT
The mills were running night and day. Flooded trenches called for special measures, and the Company was asked by the War Office to construct a suitable boot, very strong and of the finest material. Eventually they were turning out 2,750 pairs of boots a day, and produced a staggering total of 1,185,036 pairs. Apart from trench boots, the Company supplied for the Admiralty and War Office 70,000 pairs of boots and shoes; 248,326 pairs of gymnastic shoes; and close on 47,000 pairs of heavy snow boots for the French Army.
Fabric used in making tyres for
war purposed reached two million square yards; 863 miles of balloon cloth;
immense quantities of hose for pumping out trenches, in connection with gas
attacks. These, and many other
items, were a tremendous part of the war effort, and a part of the Company’s
history which will always command respect and admiration.
With the end of hostilities---for 20 or so years, at least---came the uneasy peace. Along with the flappers and the Charleston, Oxford bags and Rudolph Valentino, came sweeping social change. During that period, the British rubber industry had a secure hold on the world market. It earned millions of pounds, and the North British Rubber company was a major contributor to the country’s economic welfare.
LEVELLING OF THE
Those days saw an increasing levelling of the “class” system. Shorter working hours meant more leisure, and there was no shortage of activities and sports facilities available to members of the Company: the Football Club commanded strong support even then; tennis, golf on the Braids, bowling at West Meadows, and an annual sports day, all had their enthusiasts. And indoors, regular dances and whist drives were held, as well as billiards and table-tennis matches. Motor cars, too, were no longer the prerogative of the very rich and most families had at least a bicycle---all needing tyres, thereby increasing North British Rubber company’s output.
The mammoth enterprise
continued to flourish earning Royal recognition on several occasions, the last
being the visit of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1960.
He Majesty Queen Many visited the factory in 1924, and Prince George in
1932. King George VI and Queen
Elizabeth toured the factory in 1941, but by this time the second world war was
in its second year, and the Royal visits to industrial centres were part of
their morale-boosting support in the war-effort programme.
During the 1939-1945 war, the
North British Rubber Company again made an important specialized contribution.
With the outbreak of war, 80% of their entire output consisted of war materials. The list is extensive. It included
7,000,000 gas maks, 10,000,000 air raid precaution sundries, 18,500,000 pairs of protective footwear, 1,000,000
rubber life belts, 8,000,000 yards of ground sheet, balloon and dinghy material, 7,500 miles of rubber tubing and
4,300 miles of hose.
In the active field of battle,
the Company introduced many important items:
for warships, a rubber composition deck covering which was jointless and
non-slip. With the invasion of
Holland and warfare that followed D-day, the Forces assigned to the task of
clearing Holland of the enemy had to deal with flooded conditions.
There was an urgent and imperative call to the North British Rubber
Company to provide large quantities of Wellington boots and thigh boots.
Vast quantities of “Q” hoses were sent to the Far East, where the fighting was often amphibious. Bullet-proof tanks for aeroplanes created a very large demand for sponge rubber in sheet form, and thousands of yards were produced in
With the war finally over
Castle Mills set about coping with post-war demands for the home and export
In 1946, the North British
Rubber company entered into a close technical agreement with United States
Company, one of the largest manufacturers in the world and, indeed, the largest manufacturer anywhere of mechanical goods. This exchange of “know-how” enabled the Edinburgh firm to keep in the van of progress.
Progress was such that by 1950, despite an acute labour shortage, new production and conveyor methods were allowing Castle Mills to secure a much larger volume of output.
New products were introduced for the benefit of British industry and the public. The Powergrip Timing Belt was launched and was immediately accepted by industry : Royalite , a thermoplastic product, was introduced with marked success in the motor industry: and a new waffle-pattern carpet underlay came on to the market, the success of which can be measured by the position Treadaire holds in the carpet industry at the present time.
The early sixties saw further expansion. Between 1962-64 the Castle Mills plant won a belting order for 600,000 for open cast mining in Russia. Suction and discharge hose was provided for the 41/2 million Firth of Clyde drydock, and Butyl Rubber fendering was used extensively in the modernization of Avonmouth Docks.
In 1965 the purchase of a site
at Newbridge was negotiated with the intention of locating a modern tyre factory
there and a factory to produce other rubber and plastic goods which were being
produced at Castle Mills.
CHANGE OF NAME
On February 1, 1966 the company changed its name to Uniroyal Limited. Over the next seven years the reputation for quality and excellence, which Castle Mills had long held, was absorbed into the new organization; and although the great factory itself was closed in 1973, its “soul goes marching on”.
August 2 2010
Richard Anderson tells us:
July 3 2010
One of the First Managers of NBR
We are delighted to have a communication from Richard M Anderson which reads:
Below is the information from Richard--and you
will see half way down about his service with NBR
as a Manager from 1860 until 1866
|Douw Ditmars Williamson, Jr|
April 23 2009
Ron Scott who was the GMBW Union Chairman and the Editor met in
Edinburgh recently together with George Gray of Industrial Relations.
The Gorgie Dalry Living Memory project
STRETCH A MILE NORTH BRITISH RUBBER (1856 to 1958)
It is a very interesting read
and allows us all to enjoy the history of NBR
in the well conceived booklet copied below
Thank you Ron for your hard digging
A quote from the introduction compares Kings, Queens, businessmen,
industrialists, and bosses of one kind or another ,whose progress through
life which is easily traceable. By contrast, it is extremely difficult to trace the
development of that mass of humanity, who are the real wealth producers.
(The Editor apologises for some parts which proved difficult to copy)
This is the back page of the booklet
February 4 2009
to the help from our friend in Barcelona, Pablo,
we have the copies of the photos of three of the originators of
North British Rubber shown below
Some Documents on the American origins of the Scottish
The American origins of the North
British Rubber Co., of Scotland can be seen from the accompanying
papers. Entirely American in leadership, equipment and ownership, it was
established at Edinburgh in 1856
remained under American direction until the closing years of the century.
A more detailed account is contained in the author's article: "The
American Origins of a Scottish Industry ", Scottish
Journal of Political Economy, Vol. II, No. r, February, 1955, 17-32.
Memorandum of Association of
"The North British Rubber Company Limited", with Articles of Association
1st, The name of the Company is " The North British Rubber Company, Limited."
2nd, The registered Office of the Company is to be established in Scotland.
The objects for which the Company are established are : " The manufacture
of articles and goods of every description, either solely in Caoutchouc,
or India Rubber, Gutta Percha, and other Gums in all their varieties, or
in the manufacture of which the above mentioned or other Gums are used or
employed to any extent; and also the dressing and preparation of the
said Gums for these purposes, and the manufacture or preparation of any
or all of the various textile fabrics which may be combined with the above
mentioned or other Gums, in the production of the said articles or goods,
and generally the doing all such other things as are incidental or
conducive to the attainment of the above objects-the said manufacture or
manufactures being carried on in such way and manner as the said Company
may legally and competently do, and specially without in any was
prejudicing the said generality under patent methods now in use, and which
the Company are entitled to exercise, or which may hereafter be ranted to
them, or they may otherwise become entitled to use and exercise.'
liability of the Shareholders is " limited ".
5th, The capital
of the Company is ,C1oo,ooo Sterling, divided into 1000
shares of #100
several persons whose names are subscribed, are desirous of being formed
into a Company in pursuance of this Memorandum of Association, and we
respectively agree to take the number of shares in the Company set
opposite our respective names. In witness whereof, We, the said several
persons, have set and subscribed our names to these presents, written by
William Paterson, clerk to Messrs. Murdoch and Boyd, Solicitors before the
Supreme Courts of Scotland, in manner following ; that is to say, we,
Henry Lee Norris, Spencer Thomas Parmelee, William Judson, Benjamin
Franklin Breeden, and John Ross Ford, for ourselves, by me the said John
Ross Ford, for and on behalf of Christopher Meyer, and by me the said
Henry Lee Norris, for and on behalf of James Bishop and James A.
Williamson. All at Edinburgh, upon the twenty-six day of September in the
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six, before this
witness, the said William Paterson.
The list of machinery, fixtures and fittings purchased
by the North British Company in the United States is too detailed (14
pages) to appear here. It provides an example of the movement of a
complete rubber manufactory (with the exception of power supply)
The following documents may be consulted at the North
British Rubber Company, Edinburgh.
13 October 1855.
Statement of Machinery and Fixtures bought by Norris & Co., from the
Ford Rubber Co., New Jersey.
[The names of subscribers under
this Memorandum of Association and the number of shares taken by each
subscriber is as follows]
Names and Addresses of Subscribers
Henry Lee Norris
Redford near Edinburgh
Fifty Five Shares
Spencer T. Parmelee,
Pembroke lodge Nr Edinburgh
One Hundred Shares
Three Hundred and Thirty Three Shares
Seventy Four Shares
For Christopher Meyer,
For James Bishop of
For James A. Williamson
Total Shares Taken
Witness to the above Signatures
Below is a further note taken from
Woodruff's book telling the story
of a lady called Louise who was obviously the expert Rubber shoe maker
Specimen labour contract for the American rubber workers
brought to Scotland in 1855
of Agreement, made, concluded, and agreed upon the 22nd day of October
A.D. 1855, between Louise Dixon of the City of New Brunswick, County of
Middlesex, State o£ New Jersey, U.S., on the one part, and the North
British Rubber Co., Norris & Co., of the other part, as follows
The said Louise
Dixon, for the consideration hereinafter mentioned, doth hereby covenant
and agree, that she will sail by the next passage of the ship Harmony for
Glasgow, Scotland in the Kingdom of Great Britain, and there render such
lawful and reasonable service, or labor, as may be required by said
Company, until they shall have made such preparations as are necessary for
the manufacture of Rubber Boots & Shoes, and that she will, after they
commence the manufacture of Boots and Shoes, labor for the said Company,
for the term of one year, and make herself generally useful to the Company
in making Boots and shoes learning, and instructing others in that art;
And the said North British Rubber Co., Norris & Co., doth covenant and
agree that they will pay to said Louise Dixon, the sum of one dollar for
each day from the time she arrives at Glasgow, Scotland, until such time
as they are ready to commence the manufacture of Boots and Shoes, in
Scotland, and after such commencement, the sum of one dollar for each
day's services, or labor, rendered to said Company, and said Company
further agree to pay the passage of said Louise Dixon on board ship
Harmony to Glasgow, Scotland, and all other necessary traveling expenses,
from New Brunswick to Glasgow and at expiration of above time and labor,
if said Louise Dixon desires to return to America, the said Company do
agree to pay her passage and necessary traveling expenses from Scotland to
New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S.
To the true
performance of the several covenants and agreements aforesaid, the parties
bind themselves individually, by these presents, in witness whereof we
have hereto set out hands and seals, on the day and year above mentioned.