Cel­e­brat­ing 100 years in sack­mak­ing in­dus­try

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Niki Ten­nant

The UK’s old­est sack­maker, based in Ruther­glen, is cel­e­brat­ing hav­ing 100 years in the bag.

J&HM Dick­son Lim­ited was founded a cen­tury ago by John and Hugh Dick­son.

Orig­i­nally op­er­at­ing from a shed in Ruther­glen Main Street, both di­rec­tors and a 10-strong work­force moved to a three-storey ware­house pre­vi­ously used as a bleach works in Miller Road, Dal­marnock.

The sewing ma­chin­ists – who made jute and hes­sian sand­bags for World War I had re­served oc­cu­pa­tions, so were not re­quired to sign up for mil­i­tary ser­vice.

When John died in the early 1940s, Hugh’s son Bill joined the com­pany in 1945 near the end of WWII, by which point the work­force had reached 20.

The firm’s main cus­tomers were in the coal in­dus­try, and they also supplied to Clyde Ship­builders and bolt man­u­fac­tur­ers.

In the early 1970s, the com­pany in­tro­duced a new type of sack made from wo­ven plas­tic.

Bill’s son, Alan, joined the fam­ily busi­ness in1980, and Hugh con­tin­ued to work un­til the day he died at the age of 82 the fol­low­ing year.

Am­bi­tious Alan worked his way through the ranks as a sewing ma­chine me­chanic, truck driver and fac­tory man­ager.

The firm then moved to mod­ern, more ef­fi­cient premises at Seath Road on the banks of the Clyde be­side the boat yard where the fa­mous pad­dle steamer Lucy Ash­ton was built and launched.

The com­pany are now im­port­ing cheaper sacks from In­dia and the Far East.

That have also be­come in­volved in the brew­ing in­dus­try and re­cy­cling, hav­ing pi­o­neered the man­u­fac­ture of kerb­side col­lec­tion sacks.

J& HM Dick­son are one of only 10 re­main­ing wo­ven sack ma­chin­ists in the UK and em­ploy 20 peo­ple.

The firm had a cel­e­bra­tory lunch last Fri­day to mark their cen­te­nary and Alan’s mum, Gil­lean, was the guest of hon­our. She un­veiled a plaque and was pre­sented with flow­ers by Alex Cameron. Cut­ter Alex is the com­pany’s long­est serv­ing em­ployee and has been with the firm for 39 years.

“The lunch was one of a num­ber of ways we have cel­e­brated our cen­te­nary and it was won­der­ful to get my mum in­volved,” said third gen­er­a­tion MD Alan, who has been with the firm for 36 years.

“We planted a tree at the new park back in March and we also had a cel­e­bra­tion at Hamil­ton Races.”

Alan, who plans fur­ther ex­pan­sion in Glas­gow’s south- side, ex­tended his thanks to all em­ploy­ees for their con­tri­bu­tion over the years.

Cel­e­bra­tions Staff at sack­maker J&HM Dick­son celebrate the firms 100th birth­day (above)

100 not out Alex Dick­osn, the firm’s MD, and his mum Gil­lean, pre­pare to celebrate the mile­stone

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