Mr. John Slack
Mr. John Slack was born at Bank Vale, Hayfield, on April 4th, 1813, and died at Hall Bank, Buxton, on December 15th (1892) last so that he had reached the ripe age of 79 years.
This well-known and most successful manufacturer was the second son of Robert Slack, who was a paper maker and tanner, of Little Hayfield. Mr. Slack, senior, had three sons, and retired in 1844, leaving the business to the three brothers, who carried on the concern under the style of Robert Slack and Bros. until 1857, in which year Mr. Robert Slack, the eldest brother, died. The following year Mr. Edward Slack, the youngest, retired from the firm and business was carried on at Hayfield under the style of John Slack by the remaining partners. In 1869 he bought the Whitehall mills at Chapel-en-le-Frith, and in 1879 took into partnership his son, Mr. Albert Slack, and his nephew, Mr. Christopher Slack, who for twenty years previously had been manager at the Bank Vale Mills, and since this date the business has been carried on as John Slack and Co. Mr. John Slack was married twice. His first wife was a London lady, Miss Copeland, who died in 1842, seven days after the birth of their only son, Mr. Albert Slack. In 1872 he married Miss Arden, of Chapel-en-le-Frith.
Mr. Slack found more pleasure in home life and in building up the fine businesses at Hayfield and Chapel-en-le-Frith than in taking part in public affairs, but was well known throughout the High Peak and very deservedly popular.
He was a Conservative and a Churchman, but having a somewhat retiring disposition, took no active part in politics. He lived at Hayfield, and energetically superintended the mills until about twenty years ago, when he went to live at Buxton. His death regretted as it is, makes no difference to the concerns. They will be carried on as hitherto by his only son, Mr.
Albert Slack, and his nephew, Mr. Christopher Slack, who drives daily from Hayfield to the Whitehall Mills, and has done so since 1879.
Bank Vale Mills have been modernised during the last ten years.
One machine has been replaced by Messrs. Smith and Law of Bury and the lengthening and improvements of the other machine was entrusted to the same firm. The work was carried out satisfactorily, additional cylinders being added and a slitting machine put in at the end of the machine. Whilst this was being done the old beam engine was taken out and a modern horizontal tandem condenser added. Fresh heating engines (made by Messrs Slack's own men) were put in, and for a two-machine mill Bank Vale was up to date.
It is now entirely renovated and renewed throughout, and the next addition will be the electric light, the installation of which will shortly be commenced.
White Hall Mills were erected, in 1781, by an uncle of Mr. John Slack, and enlarged in 1821. This is commemorated on a stone let into the wall on one of the buildings, bearing the inscription –
JOHN AND MARY IBBOTSON,
Extensions were again made in 1836, and again, by Messrs J. Hughes and Sons, in 1866, and in 1879, the taking into partnership, by Mr. John Slack, of his son and nephew, was commemorated by still further improvements and additions. It is hardly necessary to say in view of the date at which it was erected, that White Hall was originally a vat mill. The vats were replaced by a Fourdrinier machine, and it is interesting to note that this was only the second Fourdrinier erected, which says much for the enterprise and foresight of the Derbyshire papermakers. Since 1879, constant improvements have been made at White Hall. The machines have been lengthened, the engines replaced, the old spur gearing been discarded in favour of leather belting, and in fact every department has been thoroughly overhauled and brought up to date. Formerly this mill made news, cartridges, and coloured printings, but for many years both mills have been on fine glazed casings, glazed and unglazed manilas, glazed drabs, blacks, cutlery, and needle papers, and a variety of other sorts.
WHITE HALL MILLS
The name of Slack stands very high for quality, and for many years it has been widely recognised, that no better nor stronger paper of its kind is procurable than that made at Whitehall and Bank Vale Mills.