Welcome to NBR Wrinklies

The Start  1856


To read the articles please click on line below

The History of the first 50 years

A 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
Founders Photographs
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


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.


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.

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December 22 2011

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)


In the first week of January 1856 Mr Henry Lee Norris, an American entrepreneur from Jersey 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 of Charles 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.

Norris 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.

The 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.

World War I and II

Production 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 success



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 emma.wilson@edinburgh.gov.uk  
Failing that, you should contact the councillors that cover the area 
Jim.Lowrie@edinburgh.gov.uk gordon.buchan@edinburgh.gov.uk 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


Best wishes

Euan Leitch
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

August21 2010


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 its workers.

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!

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 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.

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 
Castle Mills.

With the war finally over Castle Mills set about coping with post-war demands for the home and export markets.

In 1946, the North British Rubber company entered into a close technical agreement with United States Rubber  
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.

  By now the economical production methods at Castle Mills were paying dividends. Cost reductions were obtained, particularly in boots and heavy footwear, the increased production of heavy duty tyres to serve the increasing demand from Europe.

  In 1955 the US Royal tyre was launched from Castle Mills and formed a firm base upon which the company built it’s tyre market. By 1959 a hose plant the most modern industrial hose manufacturing facility in Europe was in production.

  In 1956 the controlling interest passed to the American firm—fitting perhaps, since it had been founded by a group of Americans and there had been continuous British and American investment throughout it’s existence.

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.

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:

that he has been adding images related to Douw Dimtars Williamson Jr, Manager of NBR, to Flickr. 
After NBR, Douw established a chemical company in Long Island City, New York called "D.D. Williamson Co".
 The company still exists. An employee of the company recently contacted me and asked if I could add 
more photos. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy seeing the other parts of Douw's life. 
You're welcome to add the link to your website if you want.
Album link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8375234@N05/sets/72157624470305785/ 

July 3 2010

One of the First Managers of NBR

We are delighted to have a communication from Richard M Anderson which reads:

Dear Editor,
I just came across your website, so thought I'd share some  information about a former manager of the
 North British Rubber Company, Douw Ditmars Williamson, Jr. He was my 3rd great-uncle. He raised 
his nephew, George (my 2nd great-grandfather).

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
Birth:  Nov. 15, 1830
New York County
New York, USA
Death:  Jan. 3, 1897
Aquitaine Region, France

Douw Ditmars Williamson Jr.

(source: "Genealogical Records of the Williamson Family in America-Tracing the Wives back to the Earliest Settlers" . Compiled by James A. Williamson. Printed in Wyoming, NJ in 1896.)

Son of Douw D. Williamson and Mary Ann Abeel. Born in New York, November 15, 1830. Graduated from Peekskill Academy (Albert Wells Principal), in 1844, and entered a commercial house as clerk. In 1849 went to Brazil and remained there over a year, and in 1851 went to Panama and Ecuador; was ten days crossing the Isthmus on a mule; was with Garibaldi; in Havana when Critenden and his filibusters were shot, and was followed by soldiers, day and night, on his return home. In connection with his brother Nicholas, established the Novelty Rubber Co.. In 1860 went to Edinburgh, Scotland, as manager of the North British Rubber Co., remaining there until 1866. During that time he rebuilt the works, which had largely been burned, greatly enlarging and perfecting them, and also constructed the Scottish Vulcanite Co.. Both these industries proving most profitable. In 1870 he invented an improved traction engine and also a steam plow, of which he constructed a number up to the present time (1896). The record of his plowing has not been equaled in any country, viz.: 40 acres of prairie land in 10 hours. In 1873, he took his family to Dresden, Germany, where they lived a year. In 1875 he built a chemical works in Long Island City, which he has continued to operate for the past twenty years. He is a member of several prominent clubs, a lover of science, literature and art, and is a pronounced liberal in theology.

On November 1, 1853, he married Mary Frances Dodd, born August 29, 1831, daughter of Samuel Dodd and Frances Bull, of Hartford, Conn. Their children by adoption are:

George Norman Williamson: born March 12, 1853 [son of Douw's brother, Nicholas].

Cornelia Bodwell Williamson: born October 29, 1863. [daughter of Mary Frances Dodd Williamson's sister, Abby Lyman Dodd Bodwell].



Douw was a manager of the North British Rubber Company located at Castle Mills (Beside the Union Canal) in Fountianbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Wlliamsons lived at the following places in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1860s: 11 Church Hill, 6 Greenhill Gardens (1861 UK Census); 8 Whitehouse Terrace (1865-66 Edinburgh Post Office Directory).

Douw's wife, adopted children, and some grandchildren are buried in the same plot (see their memorial pages). Douw's parents are also buried at Green-wood in Section 120, Lot 1468, and Lot 1469. 
Green-Wood Cemetery
Kings County
New York, USA
Plot: Section 120 & 139, Lot 19677 & 31486
Created by: Richard Anderson
Record added: Mar 29, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 13780670

Added by: Richard Anderson

Added by: Richard Anderson

Added by: Richard Anderson
There are 2 more photos not showing...
Click here to view all images...
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.

 Added: Jun. 2, 2009
My 3rd great-granduncle.
- Richard Anderson
 Added: Feb. 7, 2009
Best regards,
Richard M. Anderson
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


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.

        Ron produced 
The Gorgie Dalry Living Memory project 

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)

Above is the cover page 

--Above-----Inside first page

Page 3

Page 9

Page 14


Page 14

Page 15

Page 17

Page 18

                                                         This is the back page of the booklet



February 4 2009

Thanks 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

The Three Founders of North British Rubber
All were American Citizens involved with the Rubber industry in the USA

One of the Original Founders

These are some copies of Documents from William Woodruff's book 
"The Rise of the British Rubber industry?
It all happened 150 plus years ago

Some Documents on the American origins of the Scottish Rubber Industry

The following is taken from William Woodruff’s book published in 1958
 “The Rise of the British Rubber Industry

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 and 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 annexed

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.

3rd, 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.'

4th, The liability of the Shareholders is " limited ".

5th, The capital of the Company is ,C1oo,ooo Sterling, divided into 1000 shares of #100 each.

We, the 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) across the Atlantic Ocean.

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.

October 1855. Statement of Machinery etc., on board sloop " Fox ", shipped per New Jersey Railroad for the ship " Harmonia ", sailing to Glasgow.

30 October 1855.   Shipping Note re Machinery and Fixtures shipped by James Bishop & Co., on board the ship "Harmonia" lying at the Port of New York and bound for Glasgow.

[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

William Judson,  New York               Three Hundred and Thirty Three Shares

B.F.Breeden  New York                                                  Seventy Four Shares
John R. Ford New Brunswick NJ. USA      One Hundred and Sixty four Shares

For Christopher Meyer, of
New Brunswick NJ John R. Ford              One Hundred and Sixty four Shares

For James Bishop of
New Brunswick NJ  Henry Lee Norris                                    Fifty Five Shares

For James A. Williamson of
Jersey city New Jersey Henry Lee Norris                                 Fifty Five Shares

                                   Total Shares Taken                                    1,000

Witness to the above Signatures
Wm Paterson residing in Leith,
Clerk to the said Messrs. Murdoch & Boyd

*All of whom were American citizens closely connected with the industry in the United States


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

Articles 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.

                                                                    Louise Dixon
                                                                       Norris & Co.

A. Hannah.