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Tullibody Tannery - 1806 to Now

This old postcard shows Tullibody Tannery and the Delph. The Delph was the pond which supplied water to the tannery.

Click on the small picture to see a larger version

Friday, 04 May 2001 - from the "Alloa Advertiser" - The tannery could be demolished in a matter of weeks! Wimpey homes withdrew an offer to demolish the Tannery after a proposal to drive a link road to its Delph Wood development fell through due to local protests. Demolition by the council could cost around £120,000 - but the council plans to do it themselves before this coming summer. The council bought the factory in 1991 for £2. Councillor William Alexander (SNP) said, "It is such an ugly blight on Tullibody and there is a degree of permanent risk, so we are keen to see it bulldozed as soon as possible." Councillor Alexander also said,".. Once again the SNP is tidying up a major issue Labour should have done years ago." Councillor Scobbie (Labour) said, "The situation now is very similar to what happened in 1995 when the Labour Administration was preparing to bring the factory down when the contractors walked away at the last minute just as Wimpey did in March (2001). There was very little we could do about that."
June 2001 - A message by e-mail from Bobby Robinson, Chairman of the Community Council, - 'At the Braes and Banchory residents association meeting tonight, Councillor Scobbie told us that work to demolish the tannery will start on July the Ninth.'
Summer 2001 - 9th July 2001 - workers from DAVID MORTON LTD, DEMOLITION CONTRACTOR, began work on demolition of Tullibody Tannery. The demolition was expected to take about 8 weeks. Buildings were demolished by conventional means, including high reach machines, to reduce the buildings to ground level. The slates from the roof (Ballachulish Slate) and all the timber (Oregon Pine) as well as the large amount of steelwork were all effectively recycled by the Demolisher.
Sunday 2nd September 2001 -The Tannery was reduced to ground level. The Workers were paid £1000 bonus for that one days work to reduced the building to ground level. The high-road was closed for the day. Rumour had it that the land where the tannery stood is to be left untouched for at least two years before anything is done with it.
June 2008 - One of the householders in Delph Road has bought part of the land to build a driveway to keep his cars in.
Tannery Land December 2008 - Click to view larger pic
January 2015 - House building on the site to begin on 26th January 2015 - completion date is January 2016
October 15 2015 - rumour is that some of the new houses will be occupied in November 2015

2nd October 2015 - New Houses being built where the Tannery used to be .. Click on the small pictures to see a larger version


The Tannery - The Demolition - 9th July 2001 - 2nd September 2001

These pictures of the demolition are from Bobby Robinson. - Click on the small pictures to see a larger version



A History of Tullibody Tannery - 1806 to 2001
The story of tanning in Tullibody goes back to the late eighteenth century. The Paterson family ran the original tannery and its associated boneworks. Alexander Paterson of Tullibody, who flourished in the late eighteenth century, was a shoemaker who diversified into small-scale tanning. His son, also Alexander, began a full-scale tanwork in 1806, using both bark from both Scotland and England. Glue making was carried on and a bone-mill was later added. Business was going sufficiently well to allow for the construction of Baingle Brae House in 1834, a project apparently inspired by a trip to Italy. This classical house and its attached formal gardens were swept away in the 1960s and the land used for new housing. By the 1840s the tanning enterprise in Tullibody had a total of 30 to 40 employees. Alexander Paterson, Junior, died on 31st December 1866. He was for many years an elder in Alloa's West U.P. Church. He also served on the committee administering the Tullibody Poor's Fund and left £200 to the fund on his death. His sons John and Andrew then ran the business. At this stage the tannery was still a single-storey building. It is commonly asserted that it was taken over and rebuilt as a modern four-storey building by John Tullis & Son around 1880 but the truth is slightly more complicated.
The valuation Rolls for the period show the tanworks lying empty in the year's 1881/2 to 1889\90 although the neighbouring bone manure manufactory is tenanted by Alex Paterson & Son. The proprietor is given as "John Paterson of Baingle Brae". The obituary notice which appears for John Paterson in the Scottish Leather trader of 3rd May, 1888 helps to explain this when it mentions that "….for some years that business (the tannery) has been discontinued, and the smaller one of preparing bone dust prosecuted..". Five years later, the obituary notice for Andrew Paterson provides further information when it notes that "Mr. Andrew was one of the visits of the "City Bank" failure, which event has since played upon him both bodily and mentally, and, no doubt, hastened his death." If this were a reference to the liquidation of the City of Glasgow Bank in the early 1880s then it would help to explain the demise of the tannery. The 1879 trial of the directors on charges of falsifying balance sheets had been a milestone on the bank's road to ruin. Andrew Paterson at 71 was both a bachelor and the youngest of the Patersons. With him the industrial dynasty can be said to have come to an end.
Tullibody's local historian Robert Kirk originally produced his historical sketch of Tullibody as a series of newspaper articles in 1890 and in these articles he remarks,
". . . That, of late years, a cloud of adversity has hung over the Tanwork, but we rejoice that there is now a rift in the cloud and that the sunshine of prosperity is appearing, and we trust it will shine out in noontide splendour on the new firm."
It appears that his optimism may have been triggered by the outcome of a coup reported by the Alloa Journal on 10th August, 1889 whereby the tannery, formerly operated by A. Paterson & Son, and bonework, run by James Gray & Co., seedsmen, were sold at the reduced upset price of £800. The buyer was John Kennedy of Stirling, an agent of the Tullises of Glasgow, and by 1890\1 we find the Valuation Roll recording the proprietor of the combined operation as "John Tullis & Son, leather manufacturer". The valuation of the works at this point was £60, a figure that had only increased to £68 by 1895/6. In 1896/7 the valuation practically doubled to £120, climbing to £165 in 1897/8 and £180 in 1898/9. By 1899/1900 there had been another major leap in the valuation to £280, the proprietor now being Tullibody Tanning Co. Ltd. This rose slightly the following year to £300 and stabilised at that level in 1901/2. The occupier and tenant in these last two years is given as "John Kennedy, tanner". It is also worth mentioning that during the 1890s the company appears to have built a row of ten houses for it's foreman and other workers. This property appears to correspond to nos. 40-58 Alloa Road, for which Tullis and Son were served a demolition warrant in 1967.
The extensions which the company was building to the works were supplemented by changes pressed on them by the local authority. As early as October 1890 we find three local farmers, Thomas Taylor of Orchard Farm, Cambus. Alexander Gall, Braehead and John Alexander, Cambus, complaining that a local burn was being polluted by the Tullis company's operations. The next year a report before the county council noted that the tannery was "not well managed" and suggested the creation of bylaws to deal with this and other "offensive trades". By early 1892 the company had responded to a call from the authority to put down cesspools, something which resulted in a marked improvement in the sewage problem. Filters for settling tanks were added the following year, although complaints continued.
John Kennedy and Robert Ramsay Tullis were the first managers of the enlarged tannery, which dealt with hides from the Highlands and those imported through East Coast ports. The building-up of the Tullibody Tannery had been part of a general expansion by John Tullis & Son, which saw its hide-processing capacity increase from 2000 in 1880 to 4000 in 1900. By 1900 2000 hides a week were processed at Glasgow and 1000 at the firm's other tanneries in Tullibody and Warrington. A proportion of the Tullibody hides went to other manufacturers but a substantial number were destined for the company's St. Ann's Works in the East End of Glasgow. This plant produced cotton Leather-edged belting for industrial purposes as well as being a tannery in its own right. A special method of "orange tanning" was developed and later patented as the company strove to produce belting suitable for use in electrical plant and other high speed heavy strain work.
In subsequent years the tannery was steered by such people as the Tullis & Sons chairman Major J. Kennedy Tullis, a Deputy Lieutenant and local JP who was also associated with the Tullibody Land Company and the Alloa Dairy Company. Major Tullis died suddenly at Baingle Brae in August 1945 aged 62. Another notable figure in the history of the company was Alexander Morrison of Manor House, Tullibody, who retired in 1948 after 58 years' service with Tullis & Sons, many of them as the manager of Tullibody Tannery. By the early 1960s his son Jack occupied this position. As late as 1951 we know that the tannery remained the second largest employer in the locality, with approximately 85 workers as opposed to the 120 employed in Cambus Distillery. By contrast a mere twenty workers were employed at the local brewery. Around this time there appears to have been keen competition for labour and the tannery faced difficulties in recruiting new younger men. These problems only eased at the end…????
By December 1959 when John Tullis and Sons were taken over by Howard Glasgow association on behalf of James Glasgow of Bria? Weir the end was in sight. The Alloa Journal reported that although Mr. Glasgow had not previously been involved in the leather trade changes were expected for the 54 strong workforce. In the event the tannery was effectively closed on the first weekend of February ???? when all but the office staff and a handful of other key workers were laid off. It had been thought uneconomical to replace the obsolete equipment in the tannery

The words above are from a copy of a document given to me by Mr. Robert Robinson, Chairman of Tullibody Community Council. It was given to him by Councillor Scobbie. I hope whoever wrote it is not offended by my putting it here. I could not make out a few of the words at the end.
After the tannery ceased operations as a tannery it was used as a plastics factory - making plastic hoses.