Kit Brady's Photographs of Swiftbrook Paper Mill

Swift Brook Paper Mill was established in the mid eighteenth century and played an important role in the economic and social life of Saggart for over two hundred years. It was recognised as a producer of high quality paper which was used in the production of bank notes and stamps.

Excerpts from an Interview with Kit Brady, who worked at Swift Brook Mill from 1947 to 1971

'I went into the mill in August 1947. Jean, the daughter of the manager, Mr. Horsborough, used to run the farm and my first job was to pull ragwort. Next I worked in the sheds. My father Peter Brady was a foreman there. From the sheds you supplied all the stuff for the machines: wood pulp, clay, alum and all the other ingredients.

My brother Peter was a boiler man. The oil they were burning then was very thick, not like the diesel we have now. Then I was put on shift work on the beating loft in the bleach house. The bleach house was under the breakers, the machines that broke up the rags. After bleaching, the rags were pulped up and drained. My sister worked on the beating loft while she was still young. There were a couple of women working there and it was their job to pick out the little bits of stuff with colour that didn't break up.

I wasn't in that part for long until I was sent down to the glaze room. You would be moved around. Then I was put up onto a calender [and later] put back up onto the cutters in the glaze room. You would be promoted as you went along. I was put up in the machine room as a backtender and was made a machinist. I was eleven years a machine man when the mill shut down in 1971.

All my family worked in the mill from time to time. My father was a foreman and my aunt Kate, his sister, was a forewoman up there as well.

The following is an account of some of the people and machinery of Swift Brook Mill using photographs from my album.’