John Ives. 1987

I started work at SB Mill on 14MC stencilling and packing.

My first impressions were the smell from the machine (the smell only papermakers would recognise) making heavy weight liner and how dark it was.

I worked there for two weeks then moved on to PM16 as ‘first boy’. At that time PM17 was alongside. I was part of team that comprised the machine man, press boy, drier man, spare drier man and first boy and on top of this there was a reserve drier man who worked across the two machines splicing ropes etc.

There was a very strong community spirit in those days backed up by many inter-shift sporting events such as football, cricket, ten pin bowling etc.

The shift pattern was 7 days of nights, two days off, then 7days of 2-10 then two off and 7 days of 6-2 two days off. The mill was shut for two weeks in the summer and a week at Christmas.

There was definitely a hostile attitude in those days between the union and management when meant any communications to be a long drawn out process taking many months to reach a solution. One of the biggest achievements of Sittingbourne Mill had been to modernise communications between the unions and management to the benefit of both the individual and the company which played a great part in modernising technology and working practises.

One lasting memory is the ability to approach any member of the mill management speaking openly and freely about almost any issue and be listened to. So much had been achieved over the mill’s last seven years, Bourne out by suppliers, visitors and customers a like.

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