Scottish Artificial Silks Ltd.

One of the uses the Tongland Works found itself being put to was the manufacture of Rayon material, as detailed below. This company leaflet is among the collection of the National Trust for Scotland, Hornel Library, Kirkcudbright.

Scottish Artificial Silks Ltd.
August 1929.

Production of Viscose Rayon Yarns.
Tongland, Kirkcudbright, Scotland.

The Company

Scottish Artificial Silks Ltd (Combined with Scottish Amalgamated Silks Ltd).
Rayon Spinners and Manufacturers.

John Morison (Chairman
Robert C. Hannay
Neil H. McAlister, J.P.
Joseph Foster
George M. Tod, C.A.

Registered Office: Argyll Works, Alexandria, Dumbartonshire.
Works: Tongland, Kirkcudbright.
Amalgamated Mills: Argyll Works, Alexandria.
Dalmarnock Mills, Glasgow.
Broad Mills, Manchester.

Scottish Artificial Silks Ltd.
Tongland Mills, Kirkcudbright, Scotland.
Wenning Mills, Bentham, nr Lancaster.
Hyde Mills, Chester.


Scottish Artificial Silks Limited was registered on the 14th April 1927.

The Company has been fortunate in securing a fine modern Factory at Tongland, Kirkcudbright, Scotland, which has been converted into an ideal Rayon Works.

The intention of the Directors is to produce Rayon Yarn of the highest quality.

The whole of the Technical Staff engaged are men of expert knowledge in the intricate details of Viscose Rayon Manufacture, and the Directors have every confidence in believing that their experts will enable the Company to realise the hopes of success which inspired them at its inception.

Rayon Process

From its inception, the production of Rayon differed radically from any other textiles, both in character of the fibre and in the method of running the manufacturing operations.

The working of the most important units of the plant are continuous, calling for a high degree of accuracy and quality in manufacture. Many of the operations carried out are purely chemical, and the materials used must be selected with great care to resist the attack of the chemicals employed.

The machinery installed in the Tongland Works embodies the most recent improvements, and thus represents in process and practice the latest advances in what is now recognised as an important Textile Industry.

Starting from the raw material, wood pulp is delivered to the Works in sheets. These pulp sheets are conditioned, and then immersed in tanks of of Caustic Soda solution and the excess pressed out until a definite weight is obtained by pressing with a hydraulic press. On leaving the hydraulic press it is passed forward to the Kneading Machines, where it is disintegrated or reduced to very fine crumbs.

When the Kneaders have completed their work, the crumbs are put into the Maturing Boxes with special lids to exclude air and stored away for a few days for a further chemical change to take place, the maturing operation being carried out under thermostatic control at a definite temperature.

After maturing, the crumbs are entered into a slowly revolving vessel called a Sulphide Drum or Churn. At the Churn, Carbon Bisulphide is added and another definite chemical change takes place, and the compound is called “Celulose Xanthate.” This compound is dropped into a closed Mixer having revolving blades which break up any lumps formed, and with the addition of Caustic Soda and water a treacle-like brownish liquid for the first time is obtained and is termed “Viscose.”

From now onwards to the spinning frame all subsequent handling is done by means of compressed air.

From the Mixer the Viscose solution is forced into a set of “Ripening Containers” and then through Filter Presses to the Spinning Containers. At this stage the maintenance of the Viscose at a definite temperature is essential to the success of the process. After this treatment the Viscose in the spinning containers is ready for feeding by compressed air to the Spinning Machines.

The next stage is to form the Viscose into a filament. The thick liquid after being filtered several times with extreme care is forced into jets, immersed in a bath containing Sulphuric Acid, and as the liquid emerges from the fine holes in the jet – about four-thousandths of an inch in diameter – it is converted by the Sulphuric Acid into a gelatinous filament of cellulose, strong enough to be drawn out of the bath over a revolving rolled and fed into a rapidly revolving spinning pot, and there is built up what is called a cake or cheese.

These cakes are taken from the Spinning Machines into Damping Chambers, and then reeled, so as to form the thread into a skein.

At this stage the skeins require washing, de-sulphurising, bleaching, souring, washing, and finally drying, before they exhibit the beautiful clear lustre which has given Rayon the position it occupies in the textile trade of today.

Finally, the Rayon is sorted and graded for quality, packed into 10lb. bundles ready for dispatch.

The Power Plant

One of the main reasons which influenced the Company in choosing Tongland as the site of their Works was the abundant and excellent supply of water furnished by the River Dee.

This supply of water is made use of for the whole of the requirements of the Works, and also to drive two powerful Hydro-Electric Sets which generate the power at a very cheap rate for the Factory. It is situated on the left bank of the Dee, adjacent to the Works, and amid very pleasant surroundings.

The switchgear for controlling both these machines is housed in a separate building on the Works, to be easy of access, and the power is distributed throughout the Works to every machine, or group of machines, all being driven electrically.

The very substantial economies provided by the foregoing schemes will be apparent.

Process Heat

Large quantities of steam are required for steam heating, boiling, distilling and other purposes in addition to power, which are peculiar to the industry, combining the features of the Chemical Works and the Textile Mill.

Low pressure boilers are used for this purpose, also supplying steam to provide the necessary heat for the ventilating air, which has to be supplied to those rooms in the Works which have to be kept at a constant temperature. The problem of ventilating these rooms is a difficult one as it is necessary to completely change the air at regular and frequent intervals.

A low pressure heating system is installed for general heating of the factory.

An up-to-date self-contained distilling plant is working for supplying clean pure water to the chemical side of the process.


A complete and experienced Works Management is at Tongland, and a good nucleus of trained workers available. The community is more agricultural than industrial, but the workers taken from the district have shown a marked aptitude in picking up the various processes.

The importation of workers from outside districts has force the company to face the accommodation of its female workers, and a commodious Hostel, built amid beautiful surroundings overlooking the River Dee, has been erected to house these girls.

A Canteen on the Works also has been provided, where the workers may obtain a meal or light refreshment.