Glossop Heritage Trust

Olive & Partington's Turnlee Mills

Aerial view of Turnlee Mills Textiles were not the only industry in Glossop. The paper making concern of Olive & Partington and its successors was one of the largest in the world.

As Hamnett tells us, William Olive and Edward Partington (later Lord Doverdale) became tenants of Turn Lee Mills in 1873. Everything was overhauled, defects made good, improvements made, and the ability of the workpeople weighed up. The town became used to seeing lorry loads of esparto grass, old rags and ropes, old paper, etc., being taken from the station to Turn Lee to be made into paper. Experiments in making paper from wood pulp eventually succeeded and brought a sight which was to become even more familiar, piles of logs at the railway station and loads being taken up Victoria Street on trailers pulled by Tiger Tractors.

Before too long the Turn Lee and Dover mills proved to be too small. Extension was achieved both by the leasing of extra land in 1876 and 1882 and the Tip Mill was bought to secure the water rights. In 1885 the manufacture of art papers started in a special factory adjacent to the mills and in 1897 a further art paper mill was built, the erection of new mills changing the whole aspect of Charlestown.

It wasn't only in Glossop that the company was based. The Ramsbottom Paper Mill Co., Broughton Bridge Mills and Barrow-in-Furness Mills were acquired. Collaboration with the Austrian chemist Karl Kellner led to the establishment of the Kellner-Partington Paper Pulp Co Ltd, which succeeded the Barrow Chemical Wood Pulp Company, in 1889 and the acquisition of mills at Borregaard in Norway, Hallein in Austria and Forshaga in Sweden.

The firm was floated as Olive and Partington Limited on 20th February, 1901. Various changes of company name, generally based on variations of Barrow Paper Mills and Kellner-Partington, followed before control passed to the Inveresk Paper Co. Ltd, in 1926, and the company became a member of the Inveresk group of paper-making concerns.

The Turnlee Mills suffered a disaster on 25th June 1943 when a boiling pan, of 12 feet in diameter, exploded. Four men were killed and five badly injured. More details are in this article.

The mills also suffered inundation by water on a number of occasions when the Gnat Hole Brook flooded, logs being carried downstream for several miles. Despite those occurrences, the business continued to thrive.

The Glossop Official Handbook of 1948 described Olive & Partington as one of the town's most important industrial concerns, with a world-wide reputation. The Guide of around a decade later noted that the industry continued to expand, being "almost unique in manufacturing its own pulp from imported timber". A modernisation programme was undertaken and completed in November 1962 but on 29th November 1963 the works closed down with a loss of 600 jobs.
Aerial view of Turnlee Mills
Turnlee Mills from the south Turnlee Mills wood store
Turnlee Mills, Whitfield House and the Drover's Arms Tiger tractor delivering logs to the wood store

Towards the end of the 19th century, the importance of Olive & Partington's was acknowledged by articles in the trade press. Two examples are Popular Papers and their Manufacture and The “King of the Paper Trade”.

A set of glass negatives showing scenes from the interior of Turnlee Mills was discovered in 2004. They were somewhat damaged but it was possible to scan them, convert the images to positives and digitally restore them.

Turnlee mills interior Turnlee mills interior Turnlee mills interior
Turnlee mills interior Turnlee mills interior Turnlee mills interior
Turnlee mills interior Turnlee mills interior Turnlee mills interior
Turnlee mills interior Turnlee mills interior Turnlee mills interior
Turnlee mills interior Turnlee mills interior Turnlee mills interior

The logs from which the paper was made were delivered by train to Glossop Station where they were stockpiled. They were then transported via Norfolk Street, Victoria Street and Charlestown to the main wood store at Turnlee.

Tiger tractor at Glossop Station, 1944 Tiger tractor on Howard Street Tiger tractor passing Bowden's Cafe, 1905
Tiger tractor on Charlestown Road Tiger tractor at Charlestown, November 1944 Fowler Tiger tractor, 1952

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Page last updated: 18 August 2018.
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