Henry Harrisse.

Britain at work; a pictorial description of our national industries online

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the seventies they found in wood the cheapest
of all known substances for the making of
paper. All three materials rags, esparto,
and timber are now in use, cither singly
or in combination. For the best kinds of
paper, including hand-made paper and
superior notepaper, linen and cotton rags
still hold the pre-eminence. Esparto takes
the second place, and from this it is that
the majority of our better-class books are
made. But the cheap newspaper press draws
its supplies almost exclusively from wood.

If for a moment we glance back to
the dawn of history we shall find that we
have rather less reason for priding ourselves




upon our superiority to our remote ancestors
than might at first be supposed. What
does the very word "paper "come from but
from " papyrus," the reed which the ancient
Egyptians manufactured into a writing
material ? Even the conversion of wood into
paper was no discover}- of the nineteenth
century. In the dim and distant past the
Chinese, who plagiarised so
man}- things besides, were able
to make paper out of sprouts of
bamboo, and later the}- pressed
bark into the service, besides
hemp and rags and old fishing-
nets. Yet no self-respecting
person would say of these old
paper-makers of far Cathay that
even-thing was fish that came
to their nets !

If, however, the ancients were
able to make paper of a sort
out of the same unpromising
things as we ourselves, we none
the less have something of which
we may vaunt ourselves. The
raw materials are much the
same, but how marvellously have
the processes changed ! That
which had to be done slowly
and laborious!}- by hand is now
effected with almost inconceiv
able rapidity by complicated

and delicate machinery, so true in its con
struction, so nearly perfect in operation, that
it ma}- almost be left to look after itself.
In these days a single machine, turning out
its thousand miles of paper in a week, gets
through as much work in four-and-twenty
hours as would have occupied an arm} of
men for a vear under the old conditions.





rhoto: ! .

That the Paper-making industry has of
late years advanced by leaps and bounds
may go without saying. In England and
Wales the number of paper-mills is 233, in
Scotland 59, in Ireland 8. Altogether,
therefore, there are some 300 mills in the
United Kingdom engaged in the manufacture
of paper, and it is impossible to set any bounds
to the development of this important industry.
The counties in which the manufacture is
most extensively carried on are Lancashire,
which has forty-four paper-mills to its name ;
Kent, which has thirty ; and Yorkshire, which
has twenty-seven. Between them these three
counties have to their credit more than one-
third of the total number of paper-mills in
all Great Britain and Ireland. The Kentish
mills include those of Messrs. Edward Lloyd,
Limited, at Sittingbourne, more generally
known as the Daily Chronicle mills ; the Daily
Telegraph mills at Uartford ; and the Tovil
mills (near Dartfordj and the Horton Kirby
mills (South Darenth) of Messrs. A. E. Reed
and Co., who also own the Merton Abbey
mills in Surrey and the Wycombe Marsh
mills in Buckinghamshire. In another of
the Home Counties, Hertfordshire, are the

extensive mills of Messrs. John Dickinson and
Co. the Croxley mills, near Watford, to which
some of our illustrations relate ; two others at
Hemel Hempstead, and a fourth at King s

Multitudinous as are the uses to which
paper is put, one is hardly prepared to find
that there are at least eighty different
"species," while of "varieties" the number is
past counting. Besides writing paper and
blotting paper and printing paper, there is
manifold paper and typewriting paper, tracing
paper and drawing paper. Then not to speak
of the many kinds of brown paper, of which
the production is enormous there are papers
for bank-notes and bills and cheques, for
hosiery and pins and needles, for collars and
caps, for cigarettes and tobacco, for butter
and tea and groceries, for portmanteau boards
and carpet felt, for railway tickets, and for
a host of other purposes, all of them made
by more or less different processes.

The wood from which, as I have said, the
cheapest printing papers are made does
not reach our manufacturers in its natural
state, but in the form of what is known as
pulp. So far, indeed, is it removed from


its original condition that no one not in the


secret, seeing a bale of wood-pulp, would
ever guess that these flakes of what looks
not unlike rough, thick cardboard were once
spruce firs for this is the kind of tree which,
owing to its fibrous nature, is most suitable
for conversion into paper. By two quite
different processes is the wood reduced to

pull) unmixed with any other material depends
for its quality upon the proportion which
the chemical bears to the mechanical pulp.
To convey some idea of the process by
which the pulp is converted into printing
paper I cannot do better than give my im
pressions of a recent visit to the Sittingbourne.
mills of Messrs. Kdward Lloyd, Limited,
whose courteous manager
could not conceal a justifiable
pride in the splendid ma
chinery which has, so to
speak, grown up under his
supervision. These mills,
which turn out from forty to.
fifty thousand tons of paper
in the year, mainly, though
not exclusively, for news
papers, are the largest in
Europe ; in size and output,
indeed, thev have but two,


pulp by mechanical pressure and friction
on the one hand, by the action of sulphide
of lime on the other. These two species of
pulp, known respectively as mechanical and
chemical pulp,have to be commingled together
in the process of manufacture. The chemical
pulp it is which yields to paper its strength,
while to the mechanical pulp it owes its
substance and bulk ; and paper made of wood-

rivals in the whole world, and them we.
must seek in the United States, the land
where even-thing runs big.

For the manufacture of the wood-pulp.
Messrs. Lloyd have mills of their own at
Honefos, in Norway, no great distance from
Christiania. Having been cut down, the trees
are flung into the river above the Honefos
Falls, and in this inexpensive fashion arc



borne down-stream to the mills, where they
are converted into pulp at the rate of 30,000
tons (of pulp) a year. Large as it is, this
quantity is not sufficient to feed the voracious
machines at Sitting-bourne, and the supply
has to be supplemented from Canada.

Whether they come from Norway or across
the Atlantic, the bales, weighing about four
hundredweight each, are unshipped at Queen-
borough and brought up the Medway in
lighters or sailing-barges to the wharves at
Sittingbourne and there stored in huge sheds,
to be used in the order in which they are
deposited, for the pulp, though it does not
quickly deteriorate, will not keep in first-
class condition indefinitely. Its treatment
at Sittingbourne begins on the " beating "
floor, high up in the mills, where it is
discharged into large vats in which revolve
circular " beaters " that flog out the tiny
fibres and gradually, with the help of water,
reduce it to what looks not unlike oatmeal
gruel. At a certain stage in the " beating "
process an aniline dye is poured into the
vat in order to whiten the pulp ; and after
wards size is introduced, to give cohesiveness
to the pulp. Having been brought to the
right consistency, the pulp flows into chests,

where it is kept in constant motion, so that
the heavier fibres those from the mechanical
pulp shall not sink to the bottom. Then,
having been refined and clarified by strainers,
which remove from it ever} foreign substance,
it is discharged into machines on the floor
below, which it enters at one end, known as
"the wet end," in the form of a sheet of
water, and leaves at the other end as paper
read\- for the printing press.

Truly wonderful contrivances are these
paper-making machines, and as you see the
running stream of water that holds the
minute fibres transformed in a few swift
transitions into perfectly developed paper,
you can hardly help crediting them with
magical properties. First the stream of
water in which, if you take up a little of
it in the hollow of your hand, you can see
the fibres, not much bigger than the motes
in a sunbeam, in suspension runs on to an
endless sheet of brass wire-netting, of which
the meshes are almost inconceivably small,
there being as many as 400 holes to the
square inch. This wire, in carrying the pulp
forward, jogs from side to side, so as to shake
the fibres together. On each side of the
wire-netting is an endless band of rubber




which travels with the netting, and prevents
the pulp from running over the sides. Before
it leaves the wire the pulp passes over a
series of suction-boxes, and by the time it has
run the gauntlet of these it has acquired a
measure of cohesion and continuity: already
is it easier to believe that what a moment
ago looked like a thin stream of water
will before this wonder-working machine
has had much more to do with it be changed
into paper.

\\ hen the pulp leaves the wire-netting it
is carried on to the first of a series of rolls.
This first pair of cylinders is known as the
couch-rolls, and in passing between them
most of the moisture which has not been
extracted by the suction-boxes is squeezed
out of it. Then it is carried- on to press
rolls, which squeeze out more and more of
the moisture until at last the pulp is
indubitably paper. Not yet, however, is its
conversion complete. Still it moves on, for
it has now to be dried by passing round
steam-heated cylinders. This done, it is
carried on to the calenders metal cylinders
with a smooth, polished surface, which by
subjecting it to tremendous pressure give
to its surface smoothness and gloss. Then
the edges are trimmed and it is divided into
the required widths, and finally it is wound
on to reels, the length of the roll being
automatically registered. When the indicator

shows that the roll is of the required length,
the paper is at length separated from the
machine to which it owes its being, the reel
is weighed, and then it is ready for delivery
to the printer. That the paper should be
weighed as well as measured may seem a
work of supererogation, but of course it is
nothing of the kind. The fact is that, nearly
as these beautiful machines approach to
perfection, rolls of paper of precisely the
same length may differ a few pounds in
weight, owing to variations in the pulp too
slight for even this delicate machinery to
recognise and correct.

Of the two great driving-engines, with their
enormous fly-wheels, of the twenty-two Gallo
way boilers with their hoppers for automatic
stoking, and of the other wonders of these
mills I may not speak. I must, however,
just touch on one point that has not yet
been mentioned. Nothing is more strikin:;
than the way in which even-thing in the
nature of waste is avoided. Thus by a
system of pipes spent heat is utilised on
a scale that has resulted in a saving of not
far short of 100 a week in the coal bill ;
and in the same way the waste water is n<,t
allowed to escape until all the pulp which
it contains has been yielded up in the form
of thick slabs, which are consigned to the
beating vats to be reduced once more to
the oatmeal gruel of which I have spoken.


The tint \vhich distinguishes certain editions
of the cheap evening papers is imparted by
pouring a little dye into the vats. But if you
visit one of the mills where coloured papers
proper are made, for writing and various
other purposes, you find that the effect is
secured not by any such simple means as
this, but by thoroughly dyeing the rags
before they are disintegrated. I must note,
too, that the high gloss that is given to paper
upon which " process " illustrations have to

be printed is obtained by the process of
super-calendering, the paper being run
through special calendering machines after
the paper-making machine has finished with
it. The best paper of this class as, for
example, that which is used for BRITAIN
AT WORK undergoes the further process of
" coating," one of the latest and most in
teresting of paper-making operations. But
this, with much else that merits notice, I
must leave undescribed.





THE Omnibus and the Tram are so much
commonplaces of city life that one is
apt to overlook the magnitude of the
interests they represent.

The capital sunk in Metropolitan street
car enterprises is, in round numbers, four
millions sterling. This enormous sum is
productive of profit, directly or indirectly,
to incalculable thousands, besides providing
for the hourly convenience of five millions of
It excites, as
it \v e r e, a
great econo-
m i c w a v e ,
w hose i n-
fluence is felt
not only in
the 1 a b o u r
market of the
capital, but
likewise in
Canada, the
States, Hun-
g a r y a n d
Russia, and
last, but by
n o m e a n s
least, in

The various companies have in their
possession about forty thousand horses,
valued at over a million sterling. A huge
fraction of their revenue flows annually
into the pockets of Irish and Hungarian
horse-breeders to replenish the waste in
horse-flesh. And more than twice the
amount goes to North and South America,
and Russia, to buy oats, maize, barley,
beans, hay and straw, for the gigantic
granaries from which the studs, scattered
all over London, draw their allowances of
provender. This is how one form of a
London enterprise affects the world s marts.
The advantages to London itself are less
easily summarised. But one statement of
fact is eloquent in its simplicity. Upwards


of thirty thousand men are engaged in the
street transit services, which, allowing for
a moderate percentage of married people,
means that seventy thousand persons are
dependent for their daily bread upon the
prosperity of the industry.

The London General Omnibus Company.
employing seventeen thousand horses and
five thousand men, is probably the greatest
institution of its kind in the world. The

w a g e s a c -
count for its
drivers and
c o nductors
totals u p
t o o v e r
,300,000 in
the course of
a twelve-
month, leav
ing an army
of superin-
t e n d e n t s,
i n .s pectors,
ti mekeepers,
1 a m p men,
cleaner s,
stable men.
artisans and
clerks, still
to be pro
vided for. In alliance with the London
General are numerous omnibus associations.
The Road Car Company, with only five
thousand horses, manages to maintain a
spirited competition with the premier con
cern and its allies. In eighteen months
the London General carries passengers
equivalent to the population of all Kurope
or, in round numbers, three hundred millions.
During a similar period the Road Car
accommodates a number represented by the
population of all North America, or roughly,
a hundred millions. How insignificant the
population of London appears when set in
contrast with these bewildering figures !
And all these millions are piled one upon
another by the daily coming and going of



individuals. Yet they
are not exhaustive. The
omnibuses owned by
Tilling" *, French s, Hull s,
Ball s, and manv smaller
firms, must carrv in the
aggregate manv addi
tional millions of pas
sengers annually. If by
any chance its street-cars
ceased t;> run even for
a clay London would, in
fact, seem stricken with
paralysis. The shops in
the West, the warehouses
in the East, the offices
in the City, would all
feel the ominous torpor.

And the Riverside, from Woolwich to
Battersea, usually alive with ten thousand
signs of commercial activitv, would bear


gloomy testimony to the close relationship
between the hum of trade and cheap street

The London Tramway service is practic
ally monopolised by the North Metropolitan
Company and the County Council. The

lines south of the Thames are worked mainly
by the Council, and as a rule converge upon
the Bridges. North of the River is the
province of the North Metropolitan, and its
lines run generally Citywards. It links such
distant points as Lea Bridge and Bloomsbury,
Stamford Hill and Holborn. Moorgate
Street, where the offices of the North Metro
politan are situated, is a leading terminus,
being connected with
Highgate and Finsbury
Park by a route which
taps a densely populated
district. To the battalions
of labourers, by whose
sweat London throbs
throughout the weary
night, the trams are a
priceless boon, for they
run without intermission
during the whole twenty-
four hours. The North
Metropolitan Company
employ eight thousand
horses and four thousand
men ; the County Council
only half that number of
horses to three thousand
men. The North Metro
politan require six hundred
cars ; the Count}- Council
m a i n t a i n a c o n t i n u o u s
night and day service with
two hundred less.




Council s Tramway system is probably the
most self-contained to be found anywhere. It
builds its own vehicles at Penrose Street, Wal-
worth Road; makes its own harness; prints
its own tickets ; and even manufactures its
own punches. As in the case of the private
companies, provision has to be made for
maintaining a continuous supplv of enormous
quantities of forage. \o less than one-half
of the hundred odd millions of passengers
who use the Council s trams in the course
of a year are halfpenny fares. An immense
proportion of this number are women of the
working class, going to the cheapest markets

"cable" line, employing between them about
a thousand men. In the United Kingdom
there are thirteen hundred miles of street
tramway open. Of these, one hundred and
forty are claimed by London, sixty-three
being in the hands of the North Metro

The building of street-cars for the various
companies is an industry of very threat im
portance, and is steadily growing. The North
Metropolitan Tramway Company has its fac
tory at Leytonstone, where cars are turned
out at a cost of about ^200 each, twenty cars
being a fair year s output. The construction
of an omnibus occupies at least a
couple of months. A walk through
the factory of the London General
at Highbury, where two hundred


to do their shopping. The municipal tramway
employees receive from 4*. f}d. to 6s. 3d.
a day, a rate of wages which is somewhat
higher than that usually paid by the private
companies. Very well paid men amongst
the legion engaged in the street-passenger
traffic, are those in the service of the Waterloo
and Atlas Omnibus Association, which is
affiliated to the London General, their wages
ranging from 6s. to <Ss. a day. A number
of small tramway companies still survive
the efforts of the two principal proprietors
at amalgamation. These include the South
London, the London Southern, the London
Deptford and Greenwich, and the Highgate

artisans are kept busv, is full of interest. The
department in which the work commences is
distinguished by the ghoulish name of the
"Body-shop." The Body-shop is appropri
ate!} full of skeletons, some of which are
omnibuses in shape, but lacking paint, and
glass, and staircase, while others are merely
four bare planks. Here one realises, with
just a touch of surprise perhaps, what diversity
of skill the production of a street-car calls
into action. When the coachbuilder has
completed the hull, it is mounted on tempo-
ran- wheels, and passes successively through
the hands of the glass-fitter, the upholsterer,
the smith, and the painter. Next-door to the


Body-shop is the Repairing 1 Department. In
days gone by an omnibus lasted twenty
years ; no\v, at the end of fifteen, it is only fit
for firewood. The change is due to the
tendency to turn out showy, lightly built
vehicles, which shall be as attractive as
possible. The coachbuilders and the allied
trades reap the benefit of this evolution in
fashion in the form of increased demand for
their labour. The painter especially plays an
important part in the
finishing of the modern
street-car. 1 1 is work
may not always be
artistic. But it means
bread to scores of
families to thousands,
when one comes to re
flect that the Paint-shop
at Highbury is but a
type of many hundreds
in England alone.
Painted on the corner
of each omnibus are a
couple of letters that are
always a puzzle to the
layman. Take the
mystic symbols " O M."
These characters -indic
ate that the car belongs
to " O " district every
company s territory is
cut up into districts
and " M " denotes its
order of rotation with
regard to all the other cars on the same
route. When a London street-car leaves the
factory its first journey is to a police-station,
where the christening ceremony is performed.
No champagne flows over its timbers. In
stead, a constable screws on to its platform a
number surmounted by the Royal arms.

The Express omnibuses are a survival of
the days when the poor man did little
driving; and they are still chiefly availed of
by w?ll-to-do business men. They are drawn
by three horses, after the manner of Mr.
Shillibeer s omnibuses of the early Victorian
period, and carry thirty -eight passengers,
which is twelve more than the usual comple
ment. They run only in the morning, the
chief points of departure being Holloway,
Tollington Park, Kilburn and St. John s


Wood. A new Express has not been built
for a long time, and now that ordinary cars
are so numerous the class seems doomed to

The advertising business done by the
Metropolitan Omnibus and Tramway Com
panies is worth considerably more than
100,000 a year. The annual income of
the London General alone, from this source,
reaches 40,000. If this branch of revenue
were from any cause to
be withdrawn from the
poorer companies, the
consequences to them
would be simply disas

It is rather a reversal
of the natural order of
things that places like
Hull and Coventry
should have excellent
systems of electric trac
tion, while the Londoner
must travel as far afield
as Shepherd s Bush to
see an electric car. Com
parison in this respect
with any of the great
cities of Europe, or
America, is entire!} un
favourable to London.
The New York electric
tramways are the most
pretentious in the world.
Money has been poured
out on them with a prodigal hand. And as
much more would be promptly expended
if only Science yielded up some new and
potent secret which the engineers could
utilise to better purpose than electricity.
The electrical " conduit " principle is that
upon which the leading New York lines
are constructed. The advantage of this
method is that the appearance of the streets
is not impaired, as the electric current is
conducted through an underground wire.
Blackpool was the first town in the United
Kingdom to avail itself of the " conduit " plan.
Occasional!} , however, the washing over of
the tide overlays that portion of the line on
the sea-front with sand, causing some incon
venience ; but otherwise the enterprise has
been rewarded with success. Perhaps the




only, tramway in the world which refuses
advertisements runs through the Andrassy
Strasse, Buda-Pesth. This, how
ever, is not its only peculiarity.
As the municipal authorities
would not under any circum
stances tolerate an ordinary
tramway, the promoters had to
construct a subway just beneath

Online LibraryHenry HarrisseBritain at work; a pictorial description of our national industries → online text (page 15 of 39)