ALEXANDER DRIMMIE
1777 - 1852


Alexander Drimmie eldest child of Thomas Drimmie and Ann Rae
was born at Montrose where his father
was a weaver at North links there.
Thomas is buried in Montrose Old Parish churchyard on the left as you enter
about the third or fourth stone from the gate.
In the year 1800 Alexander married Elizabeth James at Montrose
and they had three children there,
Mary 1801, Ann 1803 and Daniel 1806.

We next here of him in Aberdeen
where he operated as a manufacturing weaver and bleacher
having some form of working relationship with
Messers Richards & Co. Aberdeen at the time of his death
for he was due the sum of seventy five pounds by them in salary.
The following extracts from various sources
will illustrate how well he applied himself to his work and life.

We may assume that he had a keen interest in the history of his country
as he subscribed to the upkeep of the Spalding Club publications
a society interested in the preservation of Scotlands historical material.
Noted in the Aberdeen directory 1830/31
as manufacturer, Rubislaw Works and last appears in the 1851/52
directory as former entry with the additional information
that his home is now at Rubislaw.
His son Daniel is also listed in the 1831 directory
as being , Manufacturer (Broadford Works), house Rubislaw.



"The Linen Trade"

The bleachers trade is an important part in the production
of linen cloth from the raw material flax.
It would seem that linen cloth has been produced in Scotland
for upwards of seven hundred years for there are
frequent notices of its use throught Scottish history.
Indeed in 1314 at the battle of Bannockburn it is related that,
"the carters, wainmen, lackeys, and women put on shirts, smocks,
and other white linens, aloft upon their usual garments,
and bound towels and napkins on their spears, staves, &c.
Then placing themselves in battle array, and making a great show,
they came down the hillside in face of the enemy
with much noise and clamour. The English,
supposing them to be reinforcement coming to the Scots,
turned and fled."
There is good reason for concluding that the linen
so successfully displayed on this memorable occasion was home made.

At first the flax was grown, dressed, spun, and woven,
by the people for their own use;
but towards the end of the sixteenth century linen goods
formed the chief part of the exports from Scotland to foreign countries.

In 1820 Alexander Drimmie substituted soda ash
for potash ley in bleaching, thereby reducing the cost of the operation,
while linen cloth might be bleached in a few days
by the use of the soda ash alone,
almost without exposure on the grass.

Archibald Clow in his book "The Chemical Revolution" has this to say,
"Indeed, it seems likely that by-product soda, made from the residues
of the manufacture of chlorine as the primary product,
was introduced by an Aberdeen bleacher, Alexander Drimmie,
before synthetic soda was manufactured in Britain.
The substitution of soda for potash was, according to A.J.Warden,
an event of considerable importance in the bleaching trade.

The following extract from A.J.Warden's book "The Linen Trade"
gives us an insight into the life of Alexander.

Alexander Drimmie, an intelligent bleacher in Aberdeen,
and father of Daniel Drimmie of Panmurefield, Dundee,
made some important discoveries and improvements in Linen bleaching.
The following extracts from his note-book, written about 1850,
refer to his substitution of soda ash for potash ley about 1820,
and his invention of washing machinery about 1825.

Bleaching:-
This branch of the Linen trade has improved at an extraordinary rate.
Formerly fine Linen was sent to Holland to be bleached.
It required a whole summer to do so,
and hence was called Scotch Hollands.
The first bleachfield in Scotland was near Perth.
Barrilla was used in part, and also pearl ashes from Russia.
Potash from America was afterwards introduced,
and cost about one time 9d per lb.
About 30 years ago I began bleaching with soda ash,
made from the residium of chlorine stills,
and that can now be made at one sixteenth of potash at 9d per lb."

The introduction of this alkali was quite an era in the trade.
By various improvements since in the manufacture of chlorine,
this alkali now called soda ash, has superseded the use of potash,
and was exported last year to the ammount of £400,000 in value.

"Alkali being now so cheap, the quantity used in proportion
to the weight of the goods is much greater, and much time is saved.
Indeed by the use of plenty of ley, and using only chloride of soda,
Linen cloth may be bleached almost without exposure,
and in a few days, if the proper plan be taken.
It costs more money, but saves time.
All bleaching materials have been brought very low in price,
and machinery has also helped to reduce the cost of bleaching.
Washing by machinery was introduced by me about 25 years ago.
It saves labour, and does the work well."

Bleachfields or greens abound
in all the great Linen districts in the three kingdoms,
and the bleachers are, as a class,
an intelligent and respectable body of men,
and many of them are excellent chemists.
Panmure bleachfield in Moniefieth
has been carried on for many years with great success
by Daniel Drimmie & Co., and is now (1864)
one of the largest for yarn in the country.
(A.J.Warden The Linen Trade)

Broadford Flax Spinning Mill is a relatively early linen mill
and is described in, Industrial Archeology of Scotland pub.1977
It was erected by John Maberly in 1808
and was the earliest recorded using gas lighting by 1815.
(A.U.L. Knight Mss, visit to Broadford)

Broadford Mills (Linen), Maberly St, Aberdeen (NJ 936068)
Founded 1808. A large and interesting group of buildings,
the most striking being a 4 storey, 15-bay windowless flax store
with castellated central tower and corner turrets.
The earliest part appears to be a handsome 4 storey and attic granite block
with a bellcote, modified by the addition of a brick water and stair tower.
There are three other large brick ranges, 2 granite flax stores,
and a tall square section brick chimney,built 1864.

Extract inv. of Personal Estate of Alexander Drimmie 1852 deceased.
Sometime residing in the parish of Old Machar and County of Aberdeen.
Cash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30-01-00
Value of furn. and other effects. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .225-10-07
Bill due by
William & Alexander Black merchants Aberdeen. . . . . . . . . . . . .500-00-00
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . + int. . 10-17-00
185 shares Aberdeen Town & County Banking Co. . . . . . . . . . 1017-10-00
123 shares of the Aberdeen Steam Traction Co. at 2-18/- . . . . . .307-10-00
100 shares of the Northern Investment Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-04
100 original shares of the
North British Australasian Loan and Investment Co. . . . . . . . . . . 20-00-00
25 preferential shares of said Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21-05-00
100 shares of the Aberdeen North American Investment Co. . . . . . . .16-08
Arrears of rents, feu duty & int.
of heritable debt due to the deceased
at Martinmas last by the following persons viz!
Mrs Susan Hampton for rent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-05-00
ditto for half years int. of 48 pounds lent
and secured on her property at Broadford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1-04-00
ditto for half years int. fue duty. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2-02-06
Mrs Taylor rent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15-00
Plus other rents and int. due . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33-10-00
Bank deposit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .373-06-01
Balance due by Messers Richards & Co.Man. Aberdeen
for proportion of salary to his death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75-00-00
                                                                                            ----------------
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2623-05-02
                                                                                            ----------------


Extract Inv. Personal Estate Mrs E.M. Drimmie or Jamie deceased 1852
relict of Alexander Drimmie Manufact. sometime in Aberdeen
there after in Rubislaw bleachworks died Jan.1852.
One third share as just relict . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 820-09-07
Plus value of dec. wearing app. and trinkets . . . . . . . .. . 7-03-00
Ex.Danl.Drimmie only son of the deceased.











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Last Update To This Page 14th November 2004 ©Alan Mitchell Drummie 2004