Working at Reid and Welsh Tartan Mill by Constance Milne

Constance left school at the age of 14 and tried to get several jobs. She had looked in the paper and went for several interviews.  Unfortunately she wasn’t very tall even by the average height of people in 1945 . She was 4ft 10ins. The Fruit shop said “You’ll never lift a bag!” and Johnstons said “You’ll never reach the looms!”.  Eventually Reid and Welsh said they would take her on. The spinning section, using Hattersley looms was situated where Decora is now. The Darning and Finishing section was where the Motor Museum is now across the road. Constance was involved in the spinning room. She had responsibility for two looms and she stood in the middle between the two. Hattersley loom club source thread was put onto the pirn (bobbin). It came off a larger bobbin. The pirn had to be prepared so that it would be ready to go onto the shuttle. The shuttles stayed on the machines and went back and forward. The machine stopped itself when the pirn was empty.

The patterns were determined by a timing chain which was different for each pattern. The men set this up.

Constance went back to work after the children had grown and stayed at the mill until it closed when it flooded and lost money. The flood happened at the weekend and people didn’t realise it had flooded. Constance lasted three weks at home and then got a job working for the forestry on the research side at Newton. The research was about cross-pollination. She knew John Keeleyside (read his memory) who worked there also.

Constance had to take all the male buds off a tree and then pollinate the female buds with pollen from another tree i.e. cross-pollinate. She worked there until she was 63.

Memory contributed by Constance Milne from Elgin


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