Powderhall,  Edinburgh

George Waterston

sealing wax manufacturer

Established

1752

George Waterstons was established with sealing wax works in premises at Dunbar Close, off the High Street in 1752.

The sealing wax works later moved into Duncan's chocolate factory in Beaverhall Road, then around 1989 moved to the present rented premises in a yard across the road from the chocolate factory in Beaverhall Road.

Edinburgh at Work  -  Waterston's sealing wax works at Powderhall, Edinburgh   -  1996

Photographs

1994

When I visited the company In 1994, it was manufacturing about 90 lbs of sealing wax per day from its works in Beaverhall Road.  About 70% of the production was exported, mainly to the USA and Hong Kong.

It also had a large store and works in Logie Green Road and a stationery and gift shop at the corner of George Street and Hanover Street.

Sealing wax was produced in two sizes - small without string and large with string.  Most of the production was red,  some was gold, silver, green and other colours. 

Edinburgh at Work  -  Waterston's sealing wax works at Powderhall, Edinburgh   -  1994

I bought a small red stick for 1.25 in the  centre of Edinburgh, on the day after my visit to the Waterston sealing wax works .

Blocks of rosin and shellac flakes and presumably some colouring material were used to make the sealing wax.

Edinburgh at Work  -  Waterston's sealing wax works at Powderhall, Edinburgh   -  1994

The ingredients were mixed and heated, then poured into moulds to which string had been added.

Edinburgh at Work  -  Waterston's sealing wax works at Powderhall, Edinburgh   -  1994   Edinburgh at Work  -  Waterston's sealing wax works at Powderhall, Edinburgh   -  1994

They were removed, finished by applying more heat, then packed. in boxes.   (There may well have been other ingredients and other stages in the production.)

Edinburgh at Work  -  Waterston's sealing wax works at Powderhall, Edinburgh   -  1994

 

Update

2005

The premises in Beaverhall Road, where I took the photos above, are now empty.

However, I must thank Angela Conroy for emailing  me to tell me the latest news.  The company has been sold  and, as far as she knows, is still producing wax.  See below for further details.

De-merger - Liquidation - Sale

George Waterston & Sons Ltd (which the wax business was part of) de-merged in June 2003.  Basically, it split in half with the printing side going in one direction  -as George Waterston (Security Printers) Ltd.

The office supplies, wax, shop in George St and a very small part of the printing business then became Waterstons Mackenzie Storrie.  That company went into receivership in Dec 2003.  That was when the Wax side was sold onto another company - outwith the Waterstons family for the fist time in over 250 years.

The other - George Waterston (Security Printers) Ltd, went into receivership in Oct 2004.

Quite sad for a company more than 250 years old.  The seventh generation of the Waterston family was actually still working as a Director when they went down.

[Angela Conroy, West Lothian, Scotland,  March 2005]

 

Thank you also to J C Williams who sending the following details:

Still in Production

I have found that Waterston's Wax is still being produced by Montgomery Litho in Peffermill.  I had a great chat with a fellow named Derek Black, who has been working for Waterston for 27 years and is one of their wax makers.

It seems that Montgomery Litho bought the wax works out of receivership in January of 2004.

[J C Williams:  August 2005]

 

 

Recollections

George Waterston

sealing wax manufacturer

Thank you to Bob Henderson, Burdiehouse, Edinburgh who wrote:

St John's Hill

"When I was at St. Pat's school, there was a sealing wax works about half way along St Johns Hill.  I always understood this to be part of Waterstons."

I believe that it would have been Waterstone's sealing was works that you remember from St John's Hill.  I was told, when I visited their works at Powderhall, that the company had previously been based at several locations in Edinburgh Old Town.

-  Peter Stubbs:  December 7, 2007

Resin

"We used to pick up the bits of resin, used in the manufacturing process.

Edinburgh at Work  -  Waterston's sealing wax works at Powderhall, Edinburgh   -  1994

We rubbed it into the palms of our hands in the unshakable belief that it would dull the pain in the event of getting the belt from Mr Boyle, the Head Master.  I think he must have used the resin too to rub into the belt to make it harder.

Bob Henderson, Burdiehouse, Edinburgh:  December 6, 2007

   

Edinburgh at Work

Photos:  George Waterston

   

 

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