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One Hundred Years of Guttapercha R & J. Dick Ltd.
Compiled by Thomas Chalmers (1946)
Our thanks to Chris Paton for supplying us with this book


ROBERT AND JAMES DICK

* *

TO TWO GREAT SCOTS GENTLEMEN, DISTINGUISHED ALIKE BY THEIR BUSINESS ABILITY AND HUMANI-TARIANISM, THIS VOLUME IS HAPPILY DEDICATED BY THE PRESENT GENERATION.

Contents

7 ORIGIN OF THE DICKS

15        GUTTAPERCHA-AND THE FIRST ESSAYS

21        SUCCESSES-AND FAILURES

29 ARRIVAL OF BALATA AND THE BELT

40 FORMATION OF THE COMPANY

48 DIRECTORS

49 MANAGING DIRECTORS

50 CHAIRMEN

51 HOME BRANCHES

52 PRODUCTS
 

ORIGIN OF THE DICKS

Our knowledge of the brothers Dick before they reached their adventurous and inventive man­hood which created R. & J. Dick, Ltd., and built a new industry into the fabric of Scots economy one hundred years ago is practically nothing. No biographer with a poised pen sits at the elbow of obscurity, and men of character with a purpose think not in terms of diaries but of deeds. The Dicks were too profoundly absorbed in their enterprise to think, even for a moment, of genealogical trees.

They sprang from the people in an age of liberal thought and liberal opportunity and their contem­poraries in this eruptive and expansive century were less inquisitive about origins than ideas. Probably it never occurred to the brothers that their family was anything but their own business and a matter of no consequence to others. It is known that other brothers and, possibly, sisters were born within the fold, but no one living has met them or has any notion of what they were like or how they resembled or differed from Robert and James.

One of the brothers died a bachelor and the other married late in life and was without issue, his wife post-deceasing him. So there is none to consult concerning family fact or fancy. The legend which seems to come near the truth is that the Dick stock exhausted itself in the production of the remarkable brothers. It is no matter.

The worthiness of the two lowly parents of Kilmarnock, where the brothers were born, is implicit in the excellence of the sons. Their type was common enough in the Scotland of that day. Many of the great industrial families of the present time owe their beginnings to such thrifty, industrious and far-seeing forebears of whom the records are silent or, at any rate, not very articulate.

The gap between the home in Kilmarnock and the subsequent home and grocer's shop of the Dicks at the corner of Crown Street and Govan Street, Glasgow, is not bridged by any surviving account. It is fairly easy to reconstruct, however, if the history of the Dicks followed the normal channels. When the brothers were still reaching for adolescence the country was in no happy state. One of the inevitable changes in the economic life of mankind was moving in its appointed course. As the Industrial Revolution swept bewilderingly forward in ever-higher gears it ploughed through the old design for living and cast it into new and swirling patterns.

The machines made the cities richer and the towns and villages poorer. To a man of prudent views and with some care for his own future and the prospects of his children, the town was no longer a delectable paradise and it was Hobson's choice. So, in all probability, with an invitation from a relative or a friend in his pocket, and some fortitude in his heart, the father of the Dicks, formerly a seafaring man, joined the growing pilgrimage to Glasgow, the bonanza of the hungry job-seeker, already prosperous with its swollen sea trade and exploiting the new age -a city already darkening with black smoke and fumes and loud with the metallic clatter of engines.

They came to Crown Street, to the house at the corner of Govan Street. James was then five, Robert three years older. Crown Street is that long, drab thoroughfare stretching from the south over the river to the old Mercat Cross of Glasgow and the ancient steeple, whereabouts it joins the venerable High Street, around which much of the colourful history of the city is entwined. The Dick family, therefore, were domiciled not only in the core of the Old City but identified with the locality in which industry and commerce were mushrooming.

At the beginning of the ’Forties or thereabouts the fortunes of many notable Glasgow firms were being founded or about to be founded in this territory - among them the carpet-making Templetons. Neither the Dicks nor the Templetons, come weal come woe, have deserted these purlieus in more than a hundred years. The Greenhead works of the Dicks still sits solidly beside Glasgow Green and looks across to the Clyde; and not far away, enshrined in all the splendour of an imitation of the Doge's Palace in Venice, stands the modern factory of the Templetons. The lasting attachment of the Dicks for the East-End, to which the family first came, was written in a final allegiance on the part of Robert, the elder brother, for he died in Monteith Row, where the brothers once lived together, the brownstone terrace with the patrician look which sweeps by the gates of the Green and equals in stateliness the noble terraces of Greek Thomson and the Adam Brothers in the West-End.

What the first family house in Crown Street was like is unknown. The tall tenements accommodating the working classes, which still favour the area, probably existed in some form. Two or three rooms off a close is a fair guess at the size of the dwelling. How long the Dicks lived here, the ages of the boys when the migration occurred, what penny-a-week school they attended or if they were regular worshippers at the Kirk - for that would be the compulsory school for conduct and ethics apart from the home ­ are matters beyond conjecture and confided to none.

If the brothers left the classroom at or before the age of twelve it would not have been regarded as uncommon or improper. For elder children in the family of a small tradesman were naturally expected ­ it was their prescriptive right and allotted place - to begin early to assist in the support of the multiplying younger. It is certain that the elder Dicks did not enjoy the graces of a university education, although they interested themselves in such technical studies and books as were available. Robert, especially, was a student of the applied sciences all his life and in advance always, and unregenerately, of his period; an experimentalist and a dreamer to whom money meant little and achievement everything .... Money came to him in generous measure and he spent it, or gave it away, generously, even prodigally. And the University came to him and gratified his sense of equal companionship - for Lord Kelvin sometimes wandered down from the heights of Gilmorehill during the heartbreaking days of the laying of the Atlantic cable and was closeted comfortably in the brothers' room at the factory. The master of precision instruments, the alumnus, and the earnest layman who pioneered electric lighting in Scotland and manufactured his own equipment conversed over teacups at Greenhead while, in the same room, brother James totted up his ledgers diligently beside them - and the workshop next door hummed and thumped in the making of guttapercha soles for cheap shoon.

If no special educational benefits were conferred upon the young Dicks, however, we are able to conclude from the next fragment of evidence that the family had prospered in a modest way after arrival in Glasgow; for Robert, presently, was apprenticed to a jeweller and James to an upholsterer. To have two tradesmen - and, perhaps, more - in one house­hold has been, traditionally, the ambition of artisan Glasgow. But in those days of economic revolution and transplantation it speaks eloquently for the steady quality and character of the Dick menage.

Either the father or the mother, or both, were actively ambitious for their two sons; or else the sons fended for themselves after the way in which the literature of the time frequently speaks of early maturity in self-sufficiency. Or, maybe, there was something in the resurgent mood of Glasgow or in the murky air of Crown Street that went on for long enough to throw up other prodigies like Tommy Lipton, born in another corner house along the street. For the stuffing of dusty chairs or the mending of old watches could not satisfy such ardent spirits .... The last we hear of the Dicks en famille is of a wash­house in Crown Street in which two young men are adding violently to the nausea of the neighbourhood by frying a gummy substance termed guttapercha, derived from an equatorial tree, in a kitchen shovel over the boiler fire and trustfully believing that, by some alchemy, they could produce an inexpensive commercial substitute for the leather soles of footwear.

Both Robert and James Dick were great men, as we can see from the distance in time of a hundred years. The year 1846, we must remember, produced McCormick's reaping machine. In the same year Elias Howe's sewing machine made its debut. It was an age in which the labour-saving device was forced upon public notice and the issue joined with centuries-old methods and materials. It is no small thing that these two Scotsmen, racing with the new current of thought, should make their attack upon the traditional uses of leather. If they failed ultimately in the attempt to change the immemorial habit of mankind to use hide for the protection of its feet they, and their followers, have succeeded brilliantly all over the mechanised world in a revolution which set up a new and powerful competitor in power trans­mission and conveying – balata, the heir to guttapercha.

They were great men – judged by the standards of their age and by greater standards, too. They were both characteristic of the times, if in different ways. Robert's was the restless spirit, dissatisfied with man's knowledge of the physical world. From the first it was Robert who dreamed of the universal gum substitute for leather in its many uses; first the boots and then the belt were the fruits of his faith and invention. It was Robert who had the kinship with Kelvin and who spent his time and money experimenting with determination and success in making electric light a practical proposition.

And it was James in his counting-house, with his actuarial mind and his capacity for commerce, who disapproved of Robert's departures from his own business concerns - as if Robert could have escaped the impulses of his own nature. It was James, exasperated at last by a brother he could not comprehend who dissolved the partnership and sailed away to Australia with a bride from the Greenhead works, the daughter of a sea captain. Yes, and it was James who found again in himself in this adventure abroad, the obverse side of the Dick coinage. There, like Robert, he was true to his times; for if in that remarkable century man seriously set himself to bring nature under subjection he also accumulated wealth on the scale of the ancient East. When James went to Australia with his bride and his liquidated capital he bought a seventh share in Broken Hill and later acquired the principal interest in Mount Morgan, an even better investment in gold mining than his previous in silver. He died a millionaire. But in him was the faith shared by many of his contemporaries that wealth should be converted into a trust for his fellows. At his death it was disclosed that, apart from some private bequests, his entire fortune had been bequeathed to charitable institutions. And more than that, by a gesture upon which Owen of Lanark must have cast an approving smile from the shades, he handed over the business of R. & J. Dick to his principal workers.

The total estate left by James Dick was £1,077,000. Half a million pounds was bequeathed to charities all over Scotland. The workers in the business received money gifts of £108,915. A substantial part of the residue was devoted to the creation of a pension fund from which employees to-day are still benefiting.

When one considers the first lowly experiment with the kitchen shovel over the wash-house fire and the early struggles for survival, the evolution of the story is remarkable. Here is not only a cross-section of the industrial development of Glasgow in the nineteenth century, but a superb example of Scots character – tough and fibrous in adversity and extravagantly generous and disinterested at the summit of success.

GUTTAPERCHA – AND THE FIRST ESSAYS

BEFORE the year 1846 the Dicks were living in Crown Street. Robert, exhibiting the first signs of initiative, had concluded his term with the unspecified jeweller to whom he was apprenticed, had set up in business on his own account as a watch­maker and established himself" in an upper chamber" in Buchanan Street, then in process of reconstruction, its facades still concealing a garden or two. James apparently had also excelled in his trade of upholstery, but the paternal grocery business evidently did not at that time have the funds to support a second son's endowment as an independent business man; or else James was an autumn crocus in affairs, or perhaps events anticipated such a venture.

At any rate, whatever future Robert and James envisaged for themselves in the realm of small business, some strange intelligence from over the seas settled their destinies. The first news of the discovery of guttapercha, a gum derived from a tree in tropical Borneo, probably did not reach the ears of even the alert Robert. Information concerning the arrival of the first shipments could scarcely, in the normal way, arrest the attention of a young man peering at broken watches through an eye-glass and struggling to consolidate a new business. It is probable from what we know of Robert that his intense application was more likely to produce some new turn in the science of horology. If he were not satisfied, as is likely enough, with the spiritual limitations imposed by that small chamber with its orderly disarray of springs, balances and cog-wheels, we know from his subsequent career that he was interested in the mechanics of his trade. Neither of the brothers thought fit to refer at any time to that most humanly interesting of all propositions – how it all began. The journals of the day probably paragraphed the progress of guttapercha, but whether Robert was looking for new fields to conquer or whether the gum substance inspired the idea is a moot point. The spectroscopic range of aniline dyes was derived, as so many other adornments of civilised life, by someone who was looking for something else!

This much, however, is strictly on record. We have it from James in a speech delivered at the jubilee celebrations of the firm. In 1843 the year of the Disruption of the Church of Scotland-a certain Dr. W. Montgomery brought samples of guttapercha from Singapore which caused "considerable excite­ment" in the world of applied sciences. The imaginative, as in all such cases, given the theory that the gum was of such a character as to displace leather in all its accepted functions, prophesied· the end of tanned hide- as the material for every utility article, from harness to footwear. It has been said that the shyest thing in the world is a million pounds, but money is always forthcoming for new ideas that create new markets; and soon a concern, The Wharf Road Guttapercha Company, was formed to handle and advertise the gum. This company enjoyed a high reputation in step with much of the investment of the period, which laid the foundations of our international renown for commercial integrity

A year elapsed before Robert became aware of guttapercha; or, at least, it was in 1846 that he first mentioned the subject to James. That conversation must have been provocative for, next day, the brothers had succeeded in purchasing from some source one pound avoirdupois of guttapercha. Along with it they obtained a can of solution costing three shillings – and a card of instructions on how to make shoes. It is not clear whether the amateur's guide to shoe­making was the work of the admirable Wharf Road Guttapercha Company, employing recognisably modern technique in its propaganda, or whether the card was an effort by some early form of our adult education system to instruct youth in the craft of the cobbler's last. Anyhow, the die was cast, and that very night, the two young men soled and heeled three pairs of shoes and were eminently pleased with themselves. The partnership was thus formed in 1846.

For some reason connected with the current economy of the upholstery trade, James was unem­ployed at the time of this episode, and it was considered by Robert as a good opportunity to install his brother in a retail business for the sale of the various products of the Guttapercha Company, which was manufacturing the goods it was popularising. Within a week a vacant shop was rented at 12 Gallowgate-a site which, with the exception of three years during the reconstruction of Glasgow Cross – remained in possession of the Dicks until the abandonment of their interest in the making of gum footwear and the sale of their country-wide interests to similar companies.

Trade flourished and it appeared as if the speculation were justified. But summer brought a decline in sales, possibly due to some flaw in the advertising scheme which emphasised the waterproof virtues of guttapercha and failed to say that the substance, at that stage of development, wilted in higher tempera­tures. So, after three months of confidence James again found himself idle and with responsibility for an annual rent of £50.

During this period of retail trading, however, the brothers had been germinating the plan which shortly was to end Robert's attachment to a career of watch­making and to launch a partnership in a fresh direction. For the rest of that summer James returned to the exercise of his talents as an upholsterer with a cousin named Simpson in London Road. By the winter the brothers considered themselves ready to begin operations. The plan was to manufacture shoes with guttapercha bottoms. Bootmaking is a craft of great skill and antiquity, and it required a stout heart, not to say a dauntless simplicity, for a watchmaker and an upholsterer to embark upon the project with nothing more in the way of furnishings, mental or manual, than the amateur's guide, ambition and resourcefulness. The shoes were hand made. “It was slow and expensive,” says James, “and we rea1ly could not compete with the ordinary shoes in the market, although we were well patronised by the scientific and wealthy people of the town.” The effect of it all was a flutter in the dovecots of the conventional trade, a season of notoriety, and then stagnation again.

The tenacity of the brothers has to be admired. Twice their enterprise had failed but there is no mention of discouragement. One way and another they must have earned enough to enable them to survive independently, for they continued deter­minedly alone with the next phase of their endeavour -to produce shoes with only the uppers made of leather. This was resolutely riding the fallen horse at the same fence. Robert, the watchmaker, as became his trade, made the guttapercha moulds, and James, the upholsterer, essayed the leather uppers. The experiment, in so far as the finished product was concerned, was entirely successful. An original concept of footwear had arrived and the Dicks, acquiring a flat opposite the shop, had gone into earnest manufacture. Hours were spent over the window display at 12 Gallowgate, but it failed to allure a conservative public. After the first excitement was over, the nine days' wonder giving place to other sensations, the sales graph showed the familiar down­ward curve.

It was price, the brothers concluded. From the beginning it had been evident that novelty and what advantages guttapercha could claim over the orthodox leather article would not sustain the market alone. The leather shoe had to be undersold. Guttapercha could overcome prejudice only by sheer economics.

The guttapercha shoe had not only to' be cheaper than the leather one, but it had to be sensationally cheaper, as well as good, to obtain, not a luxury or fashionable market, but a working-class and extensive clientele. So the Dicks set about the problem, undismayed.

One suspects that it is at this point that James really came into his own when, for the first time, costing and not pure creation became the real touch­stone of success or failure.

SUCCESSES – AND FAILURES

The good fortune which superstitiously is supposed to follow high endeavour and less high living ran true to form on this occasion. It came to the Dicks in the fortuitous shape of a fall in the price of guttapercha.

When the brothers were being rebuffed by an unappreciative country the gum was a monopoly and accordingly priced. About this time a new concern, the Silvertown Company, arose in opposition to the Wharf Road Company and, as a consequence of competition, the price of the gum began to decline. The finest material was being offered and bought at 1s. 7d. a lb., far below the price to which the Dicks had been accustomed.

The chance had arrived to test the last theory of two dogged young. men who were themselves satisfied, in spite of all, that the factors were in favour of their product in the challenge to leather, if only the price of the article could be related to the vast market which working-class demand could offer.

The tickets in the window at No. 12 Gallowgate showed a reduction from 7s. 6d. to 6s. 6d. in the price of shoes, and the rush of customers was confidently awaited. To the astonishment of the Dicks the unheeding mob passed by their door. James was the less confounded of the two, for he had now the consolation of his hobby-horse. His price was low but obviously not low enough. Guttapercha was still toppling in price, which now had reached its nadir at ninepence a pound. James had been adding to his experience of buying and handling leather. This fact, the fall in guttapercha, his financial shrewd­ness and the faith he shared with his brother made the next step inevitable. The shoes swiftly came down to Ss. 6d. a pair. Ah, this was IT at last! ... but still the result was frustration as the public remained indifferent to what was surely the biggest event of the day in the whole cobbling world. Nothing, apparently, not even price now, seemed destined to attract that glittering but obdurate market.

It was decided, more gloomily than at any stage since the days with the frying-pan in the washhouse -but not less determinedly-that one last effort to make the grade should be attempted, and price again was chosen as the battleground. Robert in his small factory, working at his gums and solutions, and James, with his representatives and his ledgers, somehow contrived between them to produce a pair of shoes at 4s. 6d., which they decided to sell at 5s., leaving themselves the bare margin of sixpence a pair. In many ways this manoeuvre was blind betting­ – “bulling” their luck for what it was worth. It should be remembered that this was not an established business with fighting reserves able to operate at a loss on a long-term view. It was a final throw-and it succeeded. Five shillings, just that figure, not four - and - elevenpence - three - farthings, proved to be the talisman. The tide had turned...

The little shop in Gallowgate-ticketed with the standard price of five' shillings-caught the fickle fancy of the public. The perfect form of advertising which is the word-of-mouth, "Have-you-heard?" club, pub and street corner chatter, spread the news; and the shop rapidly throve until it could no longer bear the swelling burden of demand. Nor could the factory in the flat produce the goods. The tide had turned and turned with the impetuosity of a flood. Shakespeare says, “There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune ...”  The Dicks rode the storm of success like Valkyries. They were as inspired and as indus­trious as in the winter of their dismay. They bought land and built a new factory; they rented shops throughout Glasgow, throughout England, crossed the Channel to Ireland-seventy shops eventually were retailing the five-shilling shoe.

For thirty-five years they enjoyed unalloyed pros­perity and created a new industry for Scotland. The record week of sales was 34,000 pairs, and the average sales were never lower than 20,000 pairs a week.

The trump card had been the price-not just five shillings, but the magic of a round figure pitched correctly, if at that time fumblingly, to catch the imagination and fit the pocket. It is extremely doubtful if, in the beginning, the Dicks understood at that time the psychological forces with which they were dealing-the conception of the low fixed price which made Woolworths, and the theory of small profits and quick returns which is now the dogma of Emporia. One cannot say whether Robert and James Dick were the actual originators of this new ideology-to give it a blessed name. One of the curiosities of invention is its simultaneous occurrence at different geographical points. This is to be found, for example, in the science of aeronautics and in the more recent study of nuclear energy. But, at any rate, the Dicks were early-and independently-in the field.

These young sons of the grocer of Crown Street in all their oral or written records never aspired to talk in a highfalutin' way of the anatomy of price­making, or of all the abracadabra of man-hours. One imagines they would not have adopted the Bedaux schemes of production. Low price was not accom­plished by a nice calculation of exactly the number of soles a worker could be forced to fabricate in any given period. Conditions certainly favoured bene­volence of view towards labour, but the attitude of the Dicks was always patriarchal towards their employees.

There is the story, by way of evidence, of a certain employee who was not notable for his diligence, and who had been granted reprieve after reprieve, some­times by his amusing method of playing one brother off against the other. The crisis came one day when neither brother could be bothered any more with such nonsense and the erring servant appeared before Robert, who was completely uncompromising. The man departed with a headshake which suggested his view of the hopelessness of dealing with employers who could not understand, but returned shortly and confronted Robert who received him with some impatience. "Wait, Mr. Robert," the man said, “before you say anything. Perhaps you dinna ken when you have got a guid man but A ken when A've got a guid maister.” The man was allowed to stay and subsequently became quite a figure in the business.

This family attitude persisted from the beginning to the end of the lives of the Dicks and was symbolised finally in the gift of R. & J. Dick, lock, stock and barrel, to the senior employees and the generous legacies to all old servants: The. Brothers were kindly to the point of quixotry in all relations with their workpeople. They were men of strong character, ambitious and forceful, depending upon their own talents to ensure the prosperity of their affairs and regarding their establishment as a trust and the workers as their personal responsibility. James said himself that the force behind his return to Greenhead after his brother’s death and after he had accumulated his million in foreign parts, was concern for the people who, in factory and the shops, had marched with him in his prime.

The Dick cheap shoe had now become a byword in the vocabulary of the working-classes and Robert and James had settled down to exploit the demand. Hand manufacture had been replaced by power machinery and refinements in manufacture ~ad been steadily instituted. The shoe was good, reliable and economical, and had built itself into public esteem. The age of accident was over. The misfortune of the lawyer at Parliament House could not recur. No product could long have survived this story of discomfiture in which, on a hot summer's day, the lawyer had stood for a long time discussing a case with an eminent Queen's Counsel and had to unlace his guttapercha-soled shoes before he could walk away, so firmly was he fastened to the Edinburgh pavement! All these awkward technical – and social – problems had been surmounted.

The Dicks, after extending the Gallowgate factory by renting new property, realised that this course was expedient but only makeshift, and decided that a properly organised factory in a new location was necessary. In 1859 Robert Dick, on behalf of his brother and himself, bought MacPhail’s Mill, a disused building situated at the top of what is now MacPhail Street and beside Glasgow Green, the oldest and most historic of Glasgow's open spaces. The area was 4,872 square yards and the cost £1,000. The mill was renovated and, periodically, it was extended until a sizeable factory was in existence. It was named, quite obviously, Greenhead Works. The factory, enlarged and modernised, now devoted exclusively to the manufacture of the world-famous “Dickbelt,” is still the headquarters of a thriving Industry.

The modernisation, of course, was gradual, and in accordance with requirements and the energetic policy of the Dicks and their successors. On one occasion, however, partial reconstruction was made necessary by a fire which broke out one night while the factory was still in shoe production. The fire brigade took charge, and a cordon of firemen was formed to protect the inquisitive spectator from himself. While the blaze was at its height a figure pushed through the cordon and was sternly rebuked by the words – “You can't go into this factory.” Over his shoulder, as he ran towards the smoke-filled offices, Robert Dick replied, “Can't I, by - ! It's my factory,” and disappeared, to return a few minutes later, hugging to his person some ledgers and papers.

The arrival of the electrical age sealed the fate of Dick’s cheap guttapercha shoe. It had been discovered about 1865 that guttapercha was the most efficient form of insulation for electrical cables and the demand for supplies of the gum began to increase. This demand reached its peak when the Atlantic submarine cable, coated with guttapercha, was fabricated. Pro­duction of the gum moved in pace with the consump­tion and the trees in Borneo, which were the source of supply, were recklessly destroyed beyond repair to nourish the inexhaustible demand. The results, inevitably, were a contraction of supply and a swift rise in price. By the end of the century the market price had swollen from ninepence a lb., the figure at which the Dicks first produced the five-shilling shoe, to five shillings a lb.

True to character and faithful to tradition the brothers struggled against adversity, even using inferior material to maintain a cheap shoe in their multiple shops, but to no purpose. The trade was done and the fact had to be recognised. It was no use seeking consolation from a still robust demand from the Continent.

Long after both Robert and James were dead the manufacture of guttapercha shoes, in various forms, continued at Greenhead, concurrently with the manu­facture of “Dickbelt” until, in 1923, shoe production was discontinued .

The origins of the “Dickbelt” and its influence upon the fortunes of the Greenhead establishment are subjects for separate consideration.

ARRIVAL OF BALATA AND THE BELT

In one of the few self-revealing documents James Dick left behind him – Robert appears not to have been survived by any script which would cast light upon his thoughts – he says:

“About the year 1885 I got wearied of the continual hard work and, not being in very good health, or in love (I am not sure which-any way you like to put it), I made up my mind to leave the business and get married. I took to travelling.”

At the time of this decision James was 62 years of age, having been born in Kilmarnock in 1823. He married Kate MacDonald, a girl employed in one of the departments of the business and, for six years he travelled abroad with his wife, mostly in Australia. Robert, the older man, was left alone without the support of his life-long partner, with the cares of a collapsing concern upon his ageing shoulders-he was now 65. James, according to his own testimony, had no part or parcel in the invention of the balata belt. "It was during my absence," he says, "that my brother invented the belt." To Robert, then – or, rather, to Robert's unflagging powers of ingenuity and resilience – goes the credit of raising the phoenix from the dying embers of Greenhead.

James has said it was fatigue, marriage and ill-­health which caused him to take his departure. The brothers were loyal to each other and, on that account, we are not given what was undoubtedly a fourth, and potent, reason-Robert's addiction to wider interests than the production of shoes for the masses, and James's intense dislike of this Tweedledum and Tweedledee existence. James was single in his devotion to his business-and especially to his sphere in the counting-house. One might say that in his later years he was the static as opposed to the dynamic type of his brother. He was impatient of those perpetual visitors whom Robert was always enter­taining in the common room they used, visitors of some distinction, such as Lord Kelvin (then Professor Thompson of Glasgow University) and J. D. F. Andrews, another bright star in the constellation of pioneers in precision instruments. James would meet them and then retire to a corner and his ledgers, while the scintillating talk ran on at the hearthstone.

We are not able to judge whether Robert's dis­tractions and absorptions had any adverse effect on the firm of R. & J. Dick. Probably they didn't. But James, with his passion for something which, to him, was real and substantial and with the responsibility of long and perplexing days over the guttapercha debacle, no, doubt was rebellious and regarded Robert's digressions as unwarranted dilettantism. On this very subject it is easy to surmise the nature of some of the conversations in the mansion on Monteith Row, where the bachelor brothers lived together after the death of their mother.

Yet it was Robert’s initiative which first gave identity to the idea of guttapercha soles and it was the fertile, questing mind of Robert which invented the balata belt when all seemed lost.

The pursuits, not strictly allied to the business, which caused the disquiet in James were related to electrical research, as the names of Kelvin and Andrews, Robert's friends, suggest. He gave his wealth, his time and his capacity to the formation of the Woodside Dynamo Company, one of the earliest of Glasgow's electrical equipment concerns, which erected a factory in the vicinity of Kelvinbridge. His personal experiments in electric lighting were in advance of his period and abreast of what might be described as the enlightened thought of the day. He ran a cable from Greenhead to the original shop in Gallowgate, which he thus provided with one of the first electric lighting installations in Glasgow. He also illuminated the Dick shop on North Bridge, Edinburgh, with electricity, employing a Woodside dynamo driven by a Tangye engine in the back premises. On Saturday nights he displayed coloured lamp$ and attracted such crowds that the installation had to be removed, "to preserve law and order," at the instigation of the local authority. Perhaps, inter alia, no one suspected Robert of having, in addition to his notable attributes, a lively flair for advertising which James could not fail to have commended.

There can be no doubt as to the catholicity of Robert's interests or friends in the realms of applied science and of engineering, if we add to Kelvin the name of the Mechan of Scotstoun who built the light metal boat which Stanley took with him to Africa in his search for Livingstone and do not overlook that it was Andrews' concentric cable for the transmission of electricity which made possible the first electric installation in a sea-going vessel.

It is a simple step in reconstruction to assume from these personal associations and progressive tendencies of mind that Robert had considered, among other exciting problems in an age of engineering imperfection, that of power transmission. The next step is as obvious-that Robert was re-joining issue with the old enemy, leather. By all his inclina­tions and experience he would be prejudiced against the leather belt and, thereby, challenged to find a substitute. Undeniably, that substitute would require to be a gum. If he could succeed in this, then his life-long battle was not to end in defeat. At one stroke he would justify his faith and secure his business. He found the substance for which he was searching-balata. By painstaking experiment he perfected his transmission belt, and took out patent rights. At an age not far short of 65, he undertook with his usual calm fortitude as great a task as that which confronted him when he entered industry as a young man – the reconversion of Greenhead from a shoe-producing to a belt-producing unit.

Like guttapercha, balata is a vegetable gum. It is derived principally from trees of the mimusops species in the virgin forests of Venezuela, Brazil and the Guianas. The properties which distinguish it from other gums and make it especially valuable in the manufacture of balata belting are its great toughness, its dependability, its resistance to oxidisation and moisture and its wide range of usefulness. These characteristics, in conjunction with the specially woven "Dick belt " fabric, ensure an immensely strong and practically stretchless belt. When the variety of industrial usage is considered, a belt that will take no harm by being exposed to weather or water is an answer to the engineer's prayer and accounts for two things.

The first is the universal acceptance of the belt and the second, as the result of the accumulated wisdom of 60 years, the practice of manufacturing the belt in only one quality, the best.

Cheaper belts have come and gone. Robert Dick's patent expired after the regulation fourteen years and imitators, naturally desirous of extracting harvests from a field already fertilised, entered into competition. Those competitors used persuasive methods and cut-prices. But behind the “Dickbelt” was the sterling worth of Robert Dick and the reverence of his successors for his skill and sagacity to such an extent that the article, apart from adjustments exacted by mechanical change, remains fundamentally the original work of the inventor.

To-day, the belt produced in 1885 is responsible for a trading organisation which encircles the globe. The largest belt ever made is a “Dickbelt” of 3,000 feet for the potash mines of Alsace. There are “Dickbelts” in every climate, on tea estates in Ceylon, in wheat mills in Chile, in the goldfields of Australia, the jute plants of India, in the rice mills of Burma, in a ropery in New Zealand, carrying wet shale in South Wales, and conveying merchandise in Amsterdam – wherever a stout and Scottish job is needed to transmit power or convey commodities.

The steel-rolling mills of Europe are almost exclusively equipped with “Dickbelt.”  Even after enduring, as part of their history, six years of relentless employment during the Occupation, “Dickbelts” are still functioning creditably in Poland and Belgium, from which new orders are again beginning to flow.

* * * *

Robert Dick did not live to enjoy the fruits of perseverance and industry, but he lived long enough to be reasonably assured that the firm 'of R. & J. Dick was established. His death occurred in 1891, six years after the invention of the belt and at the beginning of the laborious processes of reconversion and marketing. Apart from a great anthology of decent impressions passed down from _ generation to generation in the business there is nothing to add to the biography of Robert Dick.

James, his brother, returned to assume the proprietorship and management of Greenhead. He did so reluctantly.

“At this time,” he says, “it was a very serious question with me whether I should return to Greenhead or not. But it was my duty to return and do what I could for the work and also for the old employees who had so long and faithfully served us.

“The first thing I did when I returned was to find out the value of my brother's invention and I found it to be a first-rate belt. I then spared neither time nor money to make it a success, and in this I have not been disappointed.

“In the year 1892 the sales of these belts amounted to £40,000 and by the end of this year (1896), it will be little short of £200,000. Of course, this has involved great outlay and, although I have been protected by a patent, the belts have been sold at a reasonable price.”

What James clearly did on re-entering the business was to reinvigorate it. For twelve months before his death Robert had been in ill-health, and the efforts he had made for the reconstitution of his affairs had sapped his remaining energy and impaired the: effectiveness of his effort. James took stock of the situation and found it promising. He was wealthy and he was attached to Greenhead and its many associations with his brother. He flung money into building, machinery, agencies abroad and the marketing of the belt. And, as he acknowledges himself, he was successful beyond his expectations.

When James Dick died in 1902 his belt and his business were firmly established. Behind him, the man who came back from retirement, he left a record, not only of thinking in a large way and of having boldness and imagination in the conduct of affairs, but of altruistic and humanitarian qualities rarely combined in one personality. Robert cared very little for money; he had a social conscience expressed in great kindliness. They called him "The Silver King" as the result of his habit of indiscriminately handing out half-crowns to the poor, the improvident and the general run of mendicants who waylaid him nightly as he walked from Greenhead to the brothers’ home in Monteith Row. It was James, however, having the same gentle and generous instincts, but with a more profound sense of the value and manage­ment of money, who conferred greater social benefits with his wealth.

James died a millionaire, the sequel to the accumu­lation of his profits from R. & J. Dick and the positive genius behind his investments in precious minerals. With the exception of family and private bequests, the larger part of his fortune was devoted to the well-being of his fellow-men. Already, in celebration of his marriage, and at a cost to himself of £60,000, he had purchased and presented Cathkin Braes to the Corporation of Glasgow with the condition that this beauty spot should be preserved in its natural state as a public park. This urge towards public benefaction asserted itself again during his lifetime when, entirely at his own expense, he erected the Dick Institute, still one of the finest architectural features of Kilmarnock, the town of his birth; while he financed, as a memorial to his brother, the imposing Dick Wing of Glasgow Royal Infirmary, which forms a stately pile in Cathedral Square. Just before his death, perhaps as another and more pointed recognition of his brother's special aptitudes, he gave £25,000 to the Royal Technical College so that, one supposes, they could use the refinements of crucible and retort where his kind had had to be content with the kitchen shovel!

* * * *

The lifetime benefactions, however, were dwarfed by the posthumous. There was £1,077,000 to dis­pose of. Nearly half a million was disbursed in favour of Scottish charities at the discretion of the trustees. In 1909, before the world began to consider millions either in manpower or money without considerable awe, more than a third of a million had been distributed and unsensational newspapers were putting up headlines about a “shower of gold.” Eighty thousand pounds went to the Royal Infirmary of Glasgow for the Dick Wing and the two other great Glasgow institutions, the Western and Victoria Infirmaries, .each obtained £30,000. The family bequests alone totalled over £100,000.

The employees in R. & J. Dick were scrupulously remembered. To Mr. John Edward Audsley, his cashier and, later, managing director of R. & J. Dick, Ltd., he bequeathed £5,000; to each of the clerks in the counting house at Greenhead, £500; to managers of departments, £500; to managers of shops outside the factory, £300; . to employees under managers, £50; to female workers with 30 years’ service, £300; to female workers with 20 years’ service, £100; to the remaining female workers, £50; to male workers with 40 years’ service, £100 ; with 30 years’ service, £75; with 20 years’ service, £50; with 15 years’ service, £40; to the remainder, £30. To Elsie Jack, his cook, he bequeathed £8,000, and to Maggie Bradley, his housemaid, John Patters on, his coachman and David Nicoll, his gardener, he left £1,000 each.

When the numbers in the far-flung boot shops and the branches and agencies abroad are taken into account, together with the well-endowed and non­contributory pension fund for staff and workers, it is obvious that the bequests amounted in all to a substantial fraction of the fortune-in fact, to £108,915.

The strongest manifestation of James Dick's muni­ficence, and that which is an integral part of this brief history, was his gift, under certain terms, of the assets and properties of the firm of R.& J. Dick to fourteen of his higher-ranking employees to be operated as a co-partnery.

The fourteen beneficiaries, who were awarded varying percentage interests by the testator, were:

Of the Greenhead Factory –

John Edward Audsley. Andrew Barday.

Adam Carter Hay. Peter Denniston.

Peter Brode

David McConnell Kennedy. Robert Burns.

Of London –

Andrew McAllister. John Fleming Linn.

Of Birmingham –

James Walker.

Of Amsterdam­ –  

Thomas Traill.

Of the Boot Shops –

Robert Ewing Lockhart,

153 Argyle Street, Glasgow.

Allan Mair,

12 Gallowgate, Glasgow; and

David Galbraith,

18 Gallowgate, Glasgow.

These fourteen co-partners carried on the business after James Dick's death until 1908 when they became vendors to the limited liability company of R. & J. Dick, Ltd., the circumstances of which fall into their natural place in the subsequent review of the developments of the concern to the present day.


FORMATION OF THE COMPANY

The ingenious mind of Robert Dick produced the revolutionary driving belt manufactured from balata in 1885. Guttapercha, as has been observed, was no longer procurable in adequate quantities for gum products or at an economic price. The footwear market was sagging and it was vital to find alternative employment for the factory. From the beginning to the end gum and its uses have been the story of R. & J. Dick, Ltd. Robert purchased the first shipment of newly-found gum known as balata. At the same time as he commenced his experiments with balata, the course of his researches took a fresh direction. Balata might not only prove the substitute for guttapercha in shoe-making, but it might be, by proper processing, the material with which to enter the field of competition with leather belting for power transmission and conveying. The steady expansion everywhere of mechanical manu­facture flattered the idea.

In the last decade of the 19th century, power transmission was achieved solely by leather belting. By the very monopoly of use prices were high. Leather, which even to-day is the principal power transmitter, was markedly unsuitable for certain types of plants. Robert Dick's laboratory tests were designed to achieve a belt which, in the circumstances he envisaged, would provide maximum service, as well as exceptional tensile strength, pliability and frictioning. With his balata, and aided by the knowledge of previous explorers in the same sphere, he accomplished what he sought. Solid woven cotton belts were being produced in the United States as early as 1858 and, about the same time, the Stanley belt was evolved in Scotland by F. S. Sandeman. Maurice Gandy, whose product is still in the market, was the originator, about 1875, of a canvas belting, consisting of stitched, folded cotton duck. Robert Dick's balata belt, which was a compound of specially woven duck, treated with the patented solution of balata, was a considerable advance on previous essays to compete with leather and, after its introduction, steadily began to attract notice, especially in the Empire and on the Continent of Europe.

For a moment it is necessary to revert to the events at Greenhead in 1908. From 1902 to 1908, as has been explained, the fourteen co-partners conducted the firm of R. & J. Dick with the impetus imparted by James Dick. Under James Dick's Deed of Arrangement, however, his capital interests fell to the co-partners. But the Deed required certain repayments to be made to his trustees to meet obligations placed upon them. These repayments, since none of the co-partners was in any sense wealthy or independent of his employment for livelihood, were made by agreement out of the profits of the business, which were progressively sound. This process of repayment was, as a consequence, sluggish and unsatisfactory to the trustees who, in terms of the will, were com­mitted to certain duties. For this reason it was found necessary to transform the co-partnery into a limited liability company, which duly occurred in 1908.

The circumstances are set out in the prospectus of R. & J. Dick, Ltd. The capital was set out as £650,000, divided into 325,000 5 ½ per cent. cumulative preference shares of £1 each – now 6 per cent. of 15s. each (5s. per share having in 1936 been repaid to the preference shareholders )-which were offered . to and taken up by the public; and 325,000 ordinary shares. The vendors-that is, the fourteen co-partners -took the whole of the ordinary shares in part payment of the purchase consideration. (Later, an official quotation for those shares was obtained on the Stock Exchange.) In 1919, 162,500 additional ordinary shares were issued and readily taken up.

At the time of James Dick's death in March, 1902, his capital in the business, apart from the value of goodwill, stood at £351,550, while there was a bank overdraft amounting to £143,177. From the date of James Dick's death until the exercise of the option to purchase, the business was carried on under the scheme of management provided by his will. By December, 1906, James Dick's capital had been reduced to the sum of £194,039; while, in addition, the whole of the bank overdraft of £143,177 had been liquidated. The situation at the flotation in 1908, as quoted from the prospectus, was that the co-partners, in exercise of the option, “purchased and acquired from Dick's Trustees (1) the whole business and assets of R .. & J. Dick (exclusive of the factory at Greenhead) upon payment of the balance remaining due at 31st December, 1906, of the deceased's capital in the business (excluding the value of the goodwill), which balance ... amounted at that time to £194,039; and (2) the factory at Greenhead and fixed machinery on payment of £20,000... price thereof in said Deed of Arrangement.”

The exploitation of the American market, to which we now refer, was the primary aim of the directors of the new company, relying upon increased pro­duction space at Greenhead for supply. American manufacturers, travelling in Europe, were con­tinuously encountering the “Dickbelt” and hearing praises of its performance. A demand from across the Atlantic followed and in its wake the decision of R. & J. Dick, Ltd., to create branches in U.S.A. This measure, adopted in 1909, did not entirely neutralise the problem, as imitators at home and others producing in a tariff-protected country were throwing their own brands of balata belting into the market. In order to produce the “Dickbelt” on a competitive basis, it was decided, accordingly, to manufacture on the American conti­nent.

A site was chosen at Passaic, New Jersey. Passaic is not far removed from New York and, therefore, is convenient for the import of raw material and the supply of labour. The factory, which was completed in 1911, is a modern fireproof structure of 50,000 square feet of space. The “Dickbelt” produced is identical in every detail with that by the parent factory at Greenhead. The first manager was Mr. J. F. Linn, who was for many years connected with the London office of R. & J. Dick.

Passaic was formed into a limited liability company in 1919 as R. & J. Dick Co., Inc., and, together with Greenhead, manufactures “Dickbelt” and allied products for the Old World and the New.

In 1929 R. & J. Dick Co., Inc., secured the con­trolling interest in the Barry Pulley Company, Inc., for which, previously, they had been world distributors.

* * * *

No firm is without its vicissitudes. In its course, R. & J. Dick, Ltd., in its original and later forms, has experienced tribulation arising from adverse conditions and economic fluctuations. In 1918, at the end of the First World War, the directors were attracted by a proposition, which then appeared extremely inviting, to undertake the entire production of gum from the forest to the factory. A Venezuelan station for the purpose of purchasing balata from the collectors was first instituted. Afterwards, exercising concessions from the Venezuelan Government, the company formed a subsidiary concern, Dickbalata, Ltd., which collected, prepared and distributed its own gum. This venture continued for three years, until 1922~ when the slump in trade descended upon the world­ and had to be abandoned, with considerable loss.

This, together with the Company's commitments for raw materials at high prices, resulted in the writing down from £1 to 4s. each of the 487,500 ordinary shares by the cancellation of 16s. per share.

All enterprise is, in a degree, speculative. From 1846 to 1946, and especially when the Dicks themselves were struggling for recognition, misfortunes have befallen the concern, only to be overcome, until to-day R. & J. Dick, Ltd., modernly equipped, soundly administered, and marketing products for which there is renewed world demand, has the confidence of nearly 3,000 shareholders.

The business which was conceived 100 years ago in a wash-house in Crown Street has become not only manufacturers of world-renowned belting but eminent experts in the science of power transmission, maintaining staffs at strategic points in its markets for consultation, designing, servicing and supplying transmission needs of every variety.

* * * *

In its proper concentration on belting, this narrative has exhibited some indifference to the story of the company's association with footwear and the other articles which, in procession, form the sales catalogue of a century. A mechanical department, so-called, still exists for the manufacture of horse-shoe pads, pickers, and valves. There were contracts for leather boots and Cossack knee-boots for the Russian Armies during the 1914-18 war, in addition to the supply of enormous quantities of belting for armament purposes during the periods of the two World Wars.

The manufacture of boots – and, successfully, for many years, of balata-soled canvas sandshoes and balata-soled footwear of various kinds – was carried on concurrently with that of belting. But it was finally decided in 1923 to discontinue production ­although, as a subsidiary interest, boot-factoring was maintained until 1935, when practically the last of the shoe branches in the United Kingdom closed down, having by the Board’s decision departed one by one as the leases expired. The remainder were disposed of to Greenlees & Sons (Easiephit Footwear), Ltd. Those in Ireland were acquired by the Saxone Shoe Co., Ltd.

Several reasons could be advanced for the change from footwear to belting. There is no question that a majority among the directors were in favour of a development towards power transmission and a retreat from boot manufacture. One cogent motive – and one that carried impressive weight in the counsels – was the distance of Greenhead (and Glasgow) from the territorial areas in which boot production was, in a manner of speaking, indigenous. Northampton and Leicester are centres for leather manufacture in the same way as Glasgow and parts of Central Scotland are for heavy engineering. The resources exist convenient to each locality and, most important of all, the labour supply, traditional and trained, is in abundance.

The boot trade at Greenhead, so long as it was confined to the attachment of gum soles to leather uppers, was a matter of trade specialisation. When

it reached for instance, the preparation of designs for the graceful, even fantastic, and ephemeral changes of mode for feminine footwear, the problem became intricate. The whole paraphernalia of staffing, skill and science was required, out of its element, for the persistence of such a scheme. And anyone who knows anything about the uprooting of labour, the transference of technical research, and the arrangement of educational curricula also knows the chances against success in the alien area. The Board of R. & J. Dick, Ltd., followed a studied view.

* * * *

So now we have the story complete of boots and belting, of the careers of two remarkable and original­ thinking Scotsmen, and of the pattern which industry has followed in Glasgow in a hundred years. What­ever the morrow may bring, there is much honest pride to be derived from the past and, probably, some lessons, too. Above all, there is profound reason for the gratitude of those at present conducting and manning the business that they should find themselves in the select company of heirs of a great and flourishing industrial house. In the world of modern industry we appear to be on the verge of new conceptions and conflicts as deep as those of a century ago. In such times the independent, dynamic qualities of the brothers Dick, who founded our concern in 1846, remain a challenge to economic and political planners and an inspiration for the future of R. & J. Dick, Ltd., Power Transmission Engineers.
 

DIRECTORS OF THE COMPANY

Name     Appointed Resigned Died

The Rt. Hon. JAMES PARKER SMITH, P.C. 1908 1922 - - - -

Sir JOHN URE PRIMROSE, Bart., 1908 1922 - - - -

JAMES GOLDIE 1908 - - - - 1913

Col. JAMES SMITH PARK, D.L., M.V.O 1908 - - - - 1921

JOHN E. AUDSLEY 1908 - - - - 1920

ANDREW McALLISTER 1908 1908 - - - -

ADAM C. HAY     1908 - - - - 1936

DAVID M. KENNEDY 1908 - - - - 1925

ANDREW BARCLAY 1908 1922 - - - -

DAVID GALBRAITH 1920 1922 - - - -

JOHN T. TULLOCH, M.C., C.A. 1920 1942 - - - -

PETER RINTOUL, C.A. 1921 - - - - 1933

A. KENNEDY AITKEN, C.A. 1925 - - - - - - - -

Wm. F. CLARK, J.P. 1925 - - - - - - - -

DAVID TODD       1925 1928 - - - -

Sir A. MURRAY STEPHEN, M.C. 1934 - - - - - - - -

JOHN DUNLOP, O.B.E., C.A. 1942 - - - - - - - -

EDWARD L. F. MUCKLOW 1946 - - - - - - - -
 

MANAGING DIRECTORS OF THE COMPANY

On the death of Mr. James Dick, Mr. John Edward Audsley, who had been his chief assistant and who was one of those to whom Mr. Dick left the business, was appointed by his co-partners to manage the firm of R. & J. Dick. On the flotation of the Limited Company in 1908, he was appointed managing director of the Limited Company. He continued in that office until August, 1913, when he retired from the position but remained a member of the Board. To succeed Mr. Audsley, Mr. Adam Carter Hay was appointed. He resigned from the position in January, 1920, but retained his seat on the Board. On the death in August, 1921, of Mr. Oliver Hayward Porter, who had been appointed general manager on Mr. Hay's resignation, Mr. Hay, on the invitation of his co-directors, returned to his old position as managing director. In August, 1935, a joint managing director­ship was formed, Mr. Andrew Kennedy Aitken, CA., being appointed to act with Mr. Hay in that capacity. In October, 1936, on Mr. Hay’s death, Mr. Aitken was appointed managing director, in which capacity he still serves.
 

CHAIRMEN OF THE COMPANY

The first chairman of the Limited Company was the Rt. Hon. James Parker Smith, P.C., who resigned from the Board in 1922 and was succeeded by Mr. Peter Rintoul, an eminent chartered accountant of Glasgow. On his death in 1933, he was succeeded by Mr. John Taylor Tulloch, M.C., another well-known chartered accountant. Mr. Tulloch resigned in 1942, and was followed by Mr. John Dunlop, O.B.E., C.A., partner in Messrs. Moores, Carson & Watson, Chartered Accountants, Glasgow, who is the present chairman.
 

HOME BRANCHES OF THE COMPANY

    Telephone Telegram

R. & J. DICK, LTD., Bridgeton 2344 “Guttapercha”

Greenhead Works,

Glasgow S.E.

R. & J. DICK, LTD., Mansion House 0220 “Trimly Cannon, Eagle House, London”

90 Cannon Street,

London E.C.4.

R. & J. DICK, LTD., Colmore 4460 “Balata Belt”

200 Corporation Street, Night – Acocks Green 1125

Birmingham, 4.

R. & J. DICK, LTD., 44257 (Day and Night) “Balata”

195 Gloucester Road,

Bishopton,

Bristol, 7.

R. & J. DICK, LTD., Blackfriars 8083 “Balata”

77 Bridge Street, Night – Sale 2463

Deansgate,

Manchester, 3.

R. & J. DICK, LTD., 26176 “Guttapercha”

4 Eastgate, Night – Roundhay 61551

Leeds, 2.

R. & J. DICK, LTD., 23767 “Gutta”

30 Dean Street,

Newcastle-on-Tyne, 1.

R. & J. DICK, LTD., 2547 “Balata”

27 Albert Square,

Dundee.

R. & J. DICK, LTD., 26535 “Balata”

11 Winecellar Entry,

Belfast.

R. & J. DICK, LTD., 51264

7 Dame Court,

Dublin.
 

PRODUCTS OF THE COMPANY

Since" Dick's Original" Balata belting was first patented sixty-one years ago, the Company has progressed with the manufacture of other classes of drives which the trend of modern machinery has demanded.

The following are the trade names and a short description of the more important.

“Dixit Belting Manufactured similarly to Balata, but impregnated with special gums which give it a high resistance to the deleterious effects of acid fumes and humid atmosphere. Used on high speed machinery and in places where the heat is too great for Balata.

Dixel Vee Rope. Manufactured in Balata and Dixit materials, is named Super Drive because of its robust strength. It can be used on all classes of drives from the small individual rope to large drives of 2,000 H.P. containing a multiple of ropes. Very suitable for main drives.

Ruberix Belting Manufactured from Filastic Yarn. This is composed of cotton fibre thoroughly blended by a special process with pure rubber Latex. The woven belt is further treated with Latex and vulcanised under pressure.

This belt has high frictional grip and is eminently suitable for short centre drives with high ratio pulleys.

Dixadd Belting This is a combination belt of Balata and leather. The leather, which is specially prepared soft and spongy chrome, is fastened to the Balata belt by means of rivets to the underside so that the leather strips make contact with the pulley face. This strip gives added frictional grip while the Balata transmits the power. By this means it is computed that the Dixadd belt has 70 per cent. more effective tension than the ordinary belt Dixadd is principally used on overloaded drives, on short centre drives, and with large speed ratio up to 12 : 1

Dickrope. This is also a Vee section rope but made of textile and rubber, moulded endless. The elasticity retained in this rope allows it to deal successfully with shock loads as experienced on compressors, fans, planing machines, etc. A very suitable belt for individual short-centre drives to effect saving in space. Manufactured to R. & J. Dick specification, under working arrangement with a producer of Vee ropes.

AIRD & COGHILL, LTD., GLASGOW


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