Water of Leith Papermills
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Water of Leith Papermills


By the 20th century on the stretch of river between Balerno and Colinton each village had its own papermill. Balerno was home to John Galloway Co Ltd which specialised in producing imitation art papers. In Currie, Henry Bruce and Sons mill produced featherweight laid and wove book paper. In Juniper Green the Woodhall Paper Company produced board, for the whisky industry among others; and in Colinton: Andrew Scott and Co manufactured browns, which were papers that were mainly used in wrappings. The three main mills that were in operation in the 20th century were:

Woodhall Mill at Juniper Green.

There had been a mill on this site since 1677. However, the mill first started making paper in 1792. The mill began producing printings, writings, blottings, cartridges, tea paper, grey paper and blue paper. In 1845 the mill was solely producing brown wrapping paper. In 1954 the mill was acquired by Inveresk and with large investment was converted into a board mill in 1957. The 1960s were boom years for this mill and demand for board was so great that the mill moved to a four shift continental system working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, this demand was not to last and with declining sales and rising costs led to the mill being closed in 1984. 

Kinleith Mill at Currie.

This mill began producing printings, browns and coloured paper in 1792. In 1844 the mill was bought by Henry Bruce and Sons and the mill remained in this family’s hands until 1928 when it was taken over by Inveresk. By this time the mill was producing esparto featherweight paper, which was mainly used for book papers. Inveresk committed large scale investment into Kinleith. However, in 1966 Inveresk closed Kinleith due to growing pressure from foreign competitors, stating that a small mill like Kinleith was no longer economically viable.

Balerno Bank Mill / Galloways Mill at Balerno.

1805 was the first year of production for Balerno Bank Mill making tea and grey paper. In 1925 the mill was bought by John Galloway and was converted to an esparto mill. Galloway expanded the mill and began producing by the American champion process. This process coats both sides of paper and produced a high quality finish. Galitho and Galart paper were the main types of paper produced at the mill, they were high quality glossed paper for publications like Vogue, Country Life and House and Garden. In 1965 John Galloway the driving force behind Galloways Mill died, at this time the firm invested in a new coating plant which began experiencing problems. The mill was overextended and efforts were made to rationalise the business. However, all efforts to keep the mill open were in vain and in 1971 the Court of Session granted a final order for the winding up of Galloways Mill.

For further information about the papermaking industry on the Water of Leith please visit the SAPPHIRE website.