Early Days… The Inverurie Paper Mill can be traced back to the direct ancestors of the Tait family who, around 1650, built a Dam and Tail Race on the River Don, to provide power for the Meal Mill located in Port Elphinstone. Prior to building the Paper Mill in 1852 the Tait Family were farmers, with interests in timber and the grain trades. Around 1800 the family expressed an interest in the construction of a Canal between Inverurie and the Port of Aberdeen, some 15 miles away, to export grain and feedstuff from their own Meal Mill. The terminus of this Canal at Inverurie, became the village of Port Elphinstone. Shortly after its construction it was re-financed and the Taits became major investors led by Thomas Tait. As industrialisation progressed towards the North East in the 19thCentury, the railway was built along the route of the canal As a result, the Railroad Company, requiring large parts of the canal banks for their rail tracks, and not wanting competition, paid sufficient compensation to enable Thomas Tait to build the Paper Mill.
Education was becoming more widespread and the Tait family recognised there would be a much wider form of the printed word being made available to the public. The venture was an immediate success, and by 1870 the Company’s accounts were showing profits of £20,000 a year - a great deal of money in those days!
Initially, the mill manufactured paper using rags. However, the start up of other Paper Mills in the Aberdeen area, resulted in cloth rags being in short supply, so various other fibres were used - i.e. straw, Esparto Grass, Spruce wood and, latterly, wood pulp.
The founder, Thomas Tait, really had the Paper Mill well established when he died in 1870. His son William Tait succeeded him and the company Thomas Tait & Sons Ltd was registered as a Limited Company in 1900. Excise Duty was introduced (the equivalent, but much lower than the VAT of today.) The Paper Mill Registration number was “64“ , which became their main marketing identity. 64 Mill Duplicator, - 64 Mill Extra Strong Bond, 64 Mill Tub Sized Ledger, etc., became famous.
WilliamTait‘s son,Thomas, followed in his Father’s footsteps. He took over in 1904. In about the 1920s the Mill was electrified from end to end, employing two large reciprocating steam engines, being fed by pulverized coal steam boilers, which remained in operation until 1953.