Glossop Heritage Trust


The “King of the Paper Trade”, Captain E. Partington J.P.
The Olive & Partington and K-P Industries.

This article is transcribed from an original in “The Paper-maker and British Paper Trade Journal”, 31 July 1899.

Captain Edward Partington J.P.
Captain Edward Partington J.P.

Probably the annals of the paper trade do not afford a more striking instance of prosperous growth and development than is shewn by the various businesses under the control of Captain Edward Partington. Possibly in no industry can be found a better illustration of what indomitable pluck, perseverance, and enterprise can achieve, when guided by superior intelligence and great commercial aptitude. Captain Partington was not born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, but had to encounter arduous and trying circumstances. In certain respects his career reminds us of that of several of the Presidents of the United States, particularly of that of “Old Abe,” as President Lincoln was called. During young Partington's early days School Boards were not, and Oxford and Cambridge were inaccessible to any but the wealthy : but even then he was, in a humble walk of life, characterised by enterprise, dogged resolution, and strong common sense, always aiming at the goal before him with a determination to get there. All through his career these qualities have been with him, and whatever he undertook, and whatever task he set himself, it has always been accomplished.

Turn Lee Mills, Glossop
Turn Lee Mills, Glossop
Dover Mills, Glossop
Dover Mills, Glossop

Commencing his business life at Heap Bridge, where he learnt the trade, and following on his own account at Woolfold, he successfully passed through the various departments of the mill, from the beating room and the machine room to the sole management. His life was not by any means a bed of roses ; he had his trials and tribulations as the rest of us have, but he ultimately triumphed over them. His responsibilities increased as the mills were extended, and new ventures were projected and undertaken, until his business became colossal in its magnitude, and Captain Partington earned the title which is often given to him of “King of the Paper Trade.” Besides his great interests in this country, he is interested in mills and works in Norway, Austria, and other parts of Europe, he has business connections in the United States, and he has latterly embarked in a big wood pulp enterprise in Canada. This typical long-headed Lancashire man has become a great factor in the paper trade of the world. He is a man very much looked up to and held in great respect and esteem ; while his unassuming demeanour and personal qualities have won for him a large circle of attached friends. Although arrived at an age when most men, blessed as largely as Captain Partington is with this world's goods, begin to devote less attention to business, his activity and energy are unabated, and he gives as much time and thought as ever to his numerous enterprises.

Mr Herbert Partington, C.C.
Mr Herbert Partington, C.C.
Mr Oswald Partington
Mr Oswald Partington

The greatest achievement in the career of Captain Partington was the introduction, in the face of tremendous difficulties, of the preparation and use of wood in the manufacture of paper. The time, thought, energy, and capital expended by Captain Partington, in this achievement, were immense. Much care and attention had to be given to the perfecting of the manifold details—chemical and mechanical—necessary for the production of perfect wood pulp, and perfect paper from wood pulp, and this alone would have floored a less energetic man than Captain Partington. The enormous difficulties which were faced and overcome, speak volumes for the energy, the persistence of purpose, and the genius of the pioneer of this industry. It is no exaggeration to say that Captain Partington's discoveries revolutionised the paper trade, and helped to make possible the wonderfully cheap reading matter which can now be procured, as for instance, the threepenny magazines and halfpenny daily papers. We well recollect when we were studying the manufacture of wood pulp in Sweden, many years ago, that Captain Partington was visiting the mills of the late Mr. D. O. Francke, with a view to following up closely the sulphite process. The writer was amazed at the frequent interviews between Mr. Francke and Captain Partington, both in Sweden and in England, in Mr. Francke's endeavours “to find out what that fellow Partington was up to.” Mr. Francke spent substantial sums of money in trying to ascertain what was being done inside the mill at Glossop, but it was all to no purpose, although he adopted various disguises with this end in view. Ultimately the Kellner-Partington discoveries were applied to the process of paper making, and became famous throughout the world.

Ramsbottom Paper Mills
Ramsbottom Paper Mills
Broughton Bridge Mills
Broughton Bridge Mills

On September the 16th last year, there was a celebration of Captain Partington's completion of a quarter-of-a-century's connection with paper-making at Glossop, when about 1,100 guests and employees assembled in the Victoria Hall in that town. On that occasion Mr. E. W. Allen, the manager of the Dover Mills, on behalf of the employees at Turn Lee and Dover Mills, presented Captain Partington with a model of a spherical wood-pulp digester, in wrought silver, handsomely worked,on which was the following inscription :—“Presented to E. Partington, Esq., J.P., by the employees at Turn Lee and Dover Mills, Glossop, in recognition of his twenty-five years amongst them, and of his success as the pioneer of the wood-pulp industry in England. 1873—1898.” In making the presentation, Mr. Allen said that to no small extent, the prosperity and well being of Glossop were bound up in the paper mills. Were all the businesses of Glossop, especially the staple industry of the place, as prosperous and progressive as the paper trade, the problem of the unemployed would not require solving, and the community at large would be in a more contented and prosperous state. Glossop had had, in the years past, spells of bad trade, yet, although the paper trade is not exempt, he believed he was correct in stating that no stoppages had taken place during the twenty-five years, that had been due either to bad trade or those harmful affairs—strikes. These facts must tend to indicate that an energetic, up-to-date, and wide-awake pilot had been at the helm of affairs, and that was the case at the present day. That, and the fact that Captain Partington's sons were energetically following in their father's footsteps, and had already spent many years in close contact with the business, augured well for the continuity and prosperity of the firm of Olive and Partington.

Borregaard Paper and Pulp Mills, Sarpsborg, Norway
Borregaard Paper and Pulp Mills, Sarpsborg, Norway

Dr. Karl Kellner
Dr. Karl Kellner

In addition to the Turn Lee and Dover Mills, he erected and controlled large paper works at Broughton, Manchester ; he was the moving power, founder and controller of the highly-successful Kellner-Partington Paper Pulp Company, with works in Barrow, in Norway, and in Austria, and several other parts of Europe—a company of European reputation.

Besides these he acted as managing director of the Ramsbottom Paper Mill Company. Yet in spite of claims upon his time, Captain Partington has, during his 25 years in that town taken a very prominent part in the government of Glossop, and it would be well for Glossop if it had more men of Mr. Partington's ability on the Town Council. Mr. Partington also finds time to sit upon the magisterial Bench. Again, as a benefactor to the town of Glossop, Captain Partington has had no superior. The beautiful Victoria Hall was, to a large extent, his gift, and testified to his generosity and thought for the town of Glossop. A splendid cricket pavilion, was erected through Captain Partington's generosity. Again, the Jubilee year was made the occasion when almost all the inhabitants of the town, without respect to creed or politics, rich or poor, old or young, felt the kindness and generosity of Glossop's most liberal citizen.

Kellner-Partington Paper and Pulp Mills, Barrow-in-Furness
Kellner-Partington Paper and Pulp Mills, Barrow-in-Furness
Hallein Paper and Pulp Mill, Austria
Hallein Paper and Pulp Mill, Austria

In acknowledging the presentation on that occasion, Captain Partington spoke of the great changes which twenty-five years had seen in the paper trade ; not only was it so in the case of machinery and appliances, but in the material and manufacture of the article they had to sell. Few industries in the country has seen such great changes as they done in their business. Why, twenty-five years ago, if a prophet had told him that in twenty-five years from then he would be compelled to sell the article he was making at a third or a quarter of the profit he was making that day, he should have said such a thing was impossible. But it was, nevertheless, a fact, and had taken place, and that fall in prices had to be met some way. This state of things had been brought about by many causes and for many reasons. They were now better paper-makers than twenty-five years ago. They understood the machinery and mechanical appliances better ; they knew the commercial part of the business better, and thus being able to save cost and sell cheaper, had made the business grow very quickly and extend largely, and as he had been asked to make paper quickly he had been forced to extend his works to keep up with the demand. At the same time, as the paper was being improved the prices were kept down, which induced people to use a good deal more on account of its cheapness, he would not go back for any further than twenty-five years, as it would take a long time, and the changes of the past twenty-five years were far more interesting than for the century before. Most of them were taught in the text books at school that paper was made from rags. Well, it was at the present time, and had been for generations, but rags had now become so scarce, and the cost of collecting them was more than the merchant could get for them, and so the difficulties in connection with rags had made the making of paper from them a very difficult matter. The change in the fashion and character of clothing, having mixed fabrics to deal with and worsteds, elastics, &c, and the materials now used in dressmaking made it very difficult to make clean paper from rags. The use of esparto, straw, and wood were the results of a great many people's efforts not only in Glossop, but in Europe and America, and the latter article had given them an abundant fibre found in the vast forests of the world, and so they had cheap and useful fibre which made good paper for almost all purposes. That had enabled paper to be made cheaply, and sold cheaply, and again, that was a great benefit to the general public, if only for educational purposes, as they could now get the news of the world every morning and evening for the mere pittance of 1d. or ½d.

The Manchester Warehouse
The Manchester Warehouse

Under their several heads, we give some particulars of the chief concerns under Captain Partington's control.

Turn Lee Mills, Glossop.
These mills were originally built in the year 1832, by John and Joseph Bennet and passed through the hands of various owners up to 1873, when they were taken over by Messrs. Olive and Partington, and were then remodelled and enlarged. The production has been increased from 70 tons to 150 tons per week, and there are now employed at the mills over 500 hands. The works have been fitted to manufacture paper entirely from wood by chemical processes, and contain five large machines. The offices at the entrance to the mill consist of a two-storey building, the lower portion being occupied by the clerical staff and Mr. Partington's private office : the upper rooms consisting of chemist's laboratory, sample room, and draughtsman's department. The laboratory is thoroughly fitted up for both chemical and microscopical investigation of the various materials and fibres used in paper-making. In the draughtsman's department are designed under Mr. Partington's supervision, the plans of the various mills under his control, and the many alterations and improvements in paper-making machinery which are necessary to keep well ahead of the times. The various goods are printing, white and toned, rolled and glazed, highly calendered, for magazine work ; casings, butter papers, buff printings and cartridge papers, imitation art paper, imitation parchment, grease-proof parchment, cream laids and woves, and E.S. writings.

Turn Lee Mills, according to the Glossop Directory for 1825 and 1828 were occupied by John and Joseph Bennet, wool carders, fur cleaners, scale board and tip manufacturers. In “the forties” we believe J. and J. Bennet were paper manufacturers ; but in 1852 James Bennet was trading at Turn Lee as a cotton spinner, under the style of the Turn Lee Mills Company. Thomas Hamer Ibbotson, son-in-law of the John Bennet referred to above, was the occupier in 1865, and is described as tin-foil paper-maker and paper-stainer, of Turn Lee and Primrose Mills. This gentleman spent much money in the business, but apparently was not very successful; for, in 1871, the well-known publishers, Messrs. Cassell, Petter, and Galpin, of Ludgate Hill, E.C., had possession of the mills, as “The Turn Lee Paper Company.” The next year they were glad to hand them over to Messrs. Olive and Partington, since which time they have been flourishing. Of course, the mills have been turned inside out since then, and are now amongst the finest in the country. The tinfoiling and colouring department, originally commenced by T. H. Ibbotson, has been greatly developed, especially during the last fifteen years.

Dover Mills, Glossop.
At the Dover Mills, adjacent to Turn Lee Mills, and belonging to the same firm, the productions are :—Surface coloured papers, gold and tinfoils, enamelled papers, art papers, white and coloured for chromo-litho, cardboards, pasteboards, silk-boards, enamelled cardboards, imitation calf papers, gummed papers, etc. The Dover Mills have been considerably enlarged—indeed rebuilt—and are now among the biggest coating mills in Great Britain. The new Dover mill is splendidly equipped. It is a fine three-storeyed structure, 200 ft. in length and 80 ft. in width.

Ramsbottom Paper Mill Company, Limited.
These mills are at Ramsbottom, thirteen miles from Manchester and four miles from Bury ; they adjoin the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway passenger and goods station, the mill having private sidings into its yard. The company was incorporated April 25th, 1872, when Mr. Partington purchased the mill on behalf of the company from the late firm of James B. Ingram & Sons, who had built and worked the mill for a few years in conjunction with their mill at Shuttleworth, about two miles away. Mr. Partington was the first managing director, and the only one, for he still holds the position, and is also chairman of the company. When the company was formed the nominal capital was £90,000 but only half the amount was called up for many years. In February, 1896, the company was reconstructed, the present nominal capital is £144,000 and the balance-sheet shows the same to be paid up as to £54,000 in ordinary shares of £8 each, and £54,000 in five per cent, cumulative preference shares, leaving £2 per share to be called up on the ordinary shares, as and when required. The company pays a good steady dividend and has investments in the Kellner-Partington Paper Pulp Company, Limited, and other undertakings. The mill makes a variety of papers, including frictioned and ordinary glazed Manilla and other casings, coloured and white printing and cartridge papers, rag papers, imitation parchment, butter papers, cop tube papers, &c, and has lately been doing a special line in a strong white paper for printing and book work, where strength and opacity are required. The mill has three machines from 75 in. to 94 in. wide, and the machinery and appliances are in good order and condition. Mr. R. P. Skelton entered the service of the company in the year of its incorporation, on the clerical staff ; he was made secretary in 1874, and still holds that position. Mr. Joseph Greenhalgh first went to the mill in 1876, and since March 1887, has had charge of the mill as manager.

Broughton Bridge Mills, Manchester.
These mills are situated on the banks of the River Irwell, and were purchased by Mr. Partington from the trustees of Mr. Stansby, rebuilt and opened in 1886. The outturn is about eighty tons per week from three machines, and comprises extra strong papers of every description, glazed and unglazed caps, MG manillas, stainers, glazed casings, cartridges, pressings, cutlery papers, envelope papers, square and angle cut, etc.

The Kellner-Partington Paper Pulp Company, Limited.
This company was formed in 1889, and has now extensive works at Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire; Borregaard, Norway; and Hallein, Austria. Captain Partington, J.P., is chairman and managing director of the Company.

Barrow-in-Furness Mills.
These very extensive works are situate at the Port of Barrow ; they have undergone considerable extensions in the last few years, and are connected with the Barrow Docks by a line of railway, and also with the main line of the Furness Railway Company and its various connections. There are now four large paper machines making fine sulphite papers, viz. :—fine printings, rolled and super-calendered, engine-sized writings, wove and laid banks, &c. There is also very extensive plant for producing the necessary sulphite pulp. The works are under the management of Mr. Albert Bradbury, who had long experience at Turn Lee Mills, Glossop, and also had considerable experience in fixing up and running sulphite mills on the Partington system in Nova Scotia and the United States.

Borregaard Mills, Norway.
These works were erected at Borregaard, near Sarpsborg, in 1892. The mills have been built near to the River Glommen, the largest in Norway, by means of which the pulp wood is conveyed from the forests to the works, and power for the machinery is supplied. There is a very exceptional amount of power at the Glommen Falls, which is utilised for working the machinery for the production of pulp, paper, &c. The property of the company also comprises a very large estate, including the town of Sarpsborg. The output of sulphite pulp is about 500 tons per week, and the various qualities are well known in the trade their regularity, strength and cleanliness. There are also two paper machines, producing about 100 tons per week of high-class browns and strong papers made from the refuse wood. Extensive additions are at present in progress at these works with the intention of producing sulphite pulp and bleaching same by electrolysis. The works are under the management of Mr. O. Pedersen, who has had a long experience in the manufacture of sulphite pulps and of the trade generally.

Hallein Mills, Austria.
These works are situated near the town of Hallein, in Austria, by the river Salzach, which is utilized, as at Borregaard, for the double purpose of conveying pulp wood to the mills and providing the motive power for machinery. The place is within a few miles of the well-known city of Salzburg. The pulps produced are of a very high-class character, and have a good reputation for their standard qualities. These mills produce about 200 tons weekly of bleached sulphite. There is also one paper machine, producing 50 tons per week of fine glazed casings, etc., from waste wood. The mills are under the able management of Mr. Davis. Dr. Karl Kellner (the well known authority on pulp-making) is also connected with this concern.

The head offices of the Olive & Partington Concern and Kellner-Partington Company are at 11 New Market Lane, Manchester. We reproduce a number of photographs of the mills, &c., as well as of Captain Partington, his sons, and some of his principal men.

Mr. Herbert Partington, C.C., has obtained his experience in the mills owned by his father, and is Captain Partington's right-hand man, as indeed an elder son should be. Mr. Herbert Partington is a practical paper and pulp maker, and is thoroughly well grounded in every detail of the business. His particular province is the direction of Broughton Bridge Mills, though, in his father's absence, he takes a responsible part in the general management of the whole business.

Mr. Oswald Partington, Captain Partington's second son, takes a leading part in the business at Glossop, for which he has proved himself admirably adapted, and, like his brother Herbert, he is very popular amongst the employees and customers of the firm.

Mr O. Pedersen
Mr O. Pedersen
Mr Lewis Clegg
Mr Lewis Clegg

Mr. O. Pedersen is an important official of the Kellner-Partington Company, having the entire control of the great mills at Borregaard in Norway. He is a gentleman who has had very extensive experience, and under his skilful guidance the mills have attained the honour of being by far the largest of any kind throughout Scandinavia.

Mr. Lewis Clegg has seen many years' service with Messrs. Olive & Partington and the Kellner-Partington concerns, and enjoys a large amount of Captain Partington's confidence, he controls the sales of the Kellner-Partington Paper and Pulp Company's productions, and in other ways gives valuable assistance in the administration of the business.

Mr Albert Bradbury
Mr Albert Bradbury
Mr W. H. Davis
Mr W. H. Davis

Mr. Albert Bradbury is the manager of the Kellner Partington Paper and Pulp Company's Mills at Barrow-in-Furness, and has had wide experience at home and abroad, not only in paper and pulp-making, but in the erection of mills and the construction of machinery. He is what one might fittingly call “a good all round man,” and a successful one to boot.

Mr. W. H. Davis is the manager of the Kellner-Partington Paper Pulp Company's mills at Hallein, Austria, and is a gentleman who is well known to the European paper and pulp making trade, while his management of the mills has evoked the well-deserved encomiums of the directors.

Mr E. Allen
Mr E. Allen
Mr Edward W. Allen
Mr Edward W. Allen

Mr. E. Allen, sen., is one of Captain Partington's lieutenants who has done successful service in his time, but is now on the retired list, and has well earned that enviable position.

Mr. E. W. Allen, the manager of the Dover Mills, Glossop, has had a successful career in the firm's service, and under his auspices these mills have been brought to their present high state of efficiency.

Mr Joseph Greenhalgh
Mr Joseph Greenhalgh
Mr R. P. Skelton C.C.
Mr R. P. Skelton C.C.

Mr. Joseph Greenhalgh is the manager of the Ramsbottom Paper Company, and by his spirit of enterprise and successful management, has kept the mills in the front rank of up-to-date Lancashire industries.

Mr. R. P. Skelton, C.C., is the secretary of the Ramsbottom Paper Company, the duties of which position he has discharged with credit to himself and satisfaction to his directors.

Mr Walter Allcock
Mr Walter Allcock
Mr George Lake
Mr George Lake

Mr. Walter Allcock is the chief of Messrs. Olive & Partington's Manchester warehouse, and is a general and popular figure-head in the trade.

Mr. George Lake is the chief chemist of the Glossop mills, and in addition to his labours as the successful head of the laboratory, he has travelled a great deal in the capacity of practical adviser to Captain Partington in connection with the latter's foreign paper and pulp-making enterprises. He may truly be said to occupy a position of trust.

Mr Smith
Mr Smith
Mr Howard Lovell
Mr Howard Lovell

Mr. Smith is the chief salesman of the Olive and Partington Company in the Provinces, and has been with the firm quite a number of years.

Mr. H. Lovell is the manager of the London House, and since he succeeded to that position has given every satisfaction.

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