Thread Mills, The History of Paisley's Thread Mills, Site Developments

Site Developments

As thread production changed with more synthetics being developed, the sites at both Anchor and Ferguslie were also changing to reflect this. After the Second World War Ferguslie took to do with the main manufacturing side of the thread-making process, while Anchor became focused on ‘finishing’ aspects. Workers at the time on both sites would have been familiar with the terms ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ processes. Essentially, ‘dry’ processes were related to production that began with the raw materials and led on to spinning and twisting. After company restructuring, this was mostly carried out at Ferguslie. The ‘wet’ processes involved things like mercerising, bleaching and dyeing, and this was carried out at Anchor, where the product would be finished before being shipped for sale. On the Anchor site there were two dyeworks, on the east and west ends of the site, while the bleachworks was in Blackhall Street, next to the Anchor Mill Sports Club. Up until the 1960s, the production of thread was not what would be described today as environmentally friendly. Many of the processes were unclean, and the River Cart would be used as a dumping ground. This was not exclusive to the mills, as all across Glasgow factories would dispose of their waste in ways similar to this. David Goldie clearly recalled silt being tipped into the River Cart during the 1960s:

“At one time I think we used to make our own caustic soda, and all the discharge…it was a mucky way of making it. It was produced using lime and soda ash and… you get a lot of silt left after it, and that was just tipped into the River Cart at one time. But, the industry changed.”

 During the 1960s, many of these processes were ‘cleaned up’, as the mill machines increasingly became automated thanks to changes in technology. At this time, the company itself was going through a process of rationalisation that would lead to the decline and eventual end of thread production in Paisley.

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Working with heritage professionals from the Scottish Oral History Centre, University of Strathclyde, the Paisley People’s Archive is creating an accessible and user-friendly oral history archive of Paisley's rich industrial past.
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