Order before 1pm
Order before 1pm
Sackmaker are the longest established manufacturer of woven sacks and bulk bags in the UK. Founded in 1915 by John & Hugh Dickson to make sandbags during the war, Sackmaker J&HM Dickson Ltd have evolved over 100 years from refurbishing & making hessian sacks to become the UK’s leading independent manufacturer & supplier of Woven Polypropylene (WPP) sacks, Sandbags & FIBC Tonne Bags.
J&HM Dickson Limited were founded in 1915 by Hugh Dickson & his brother John to make hessian and jute sandbags for the first World War. Operating from a shed in Rutherglen in Glasgow’s South side the Dickson Brothers quickly became experts in their craft.
In order to expand the business, John & Hugh moved into three storey warehouse previously used as a Bleachworks in Millerfield Road, Dalmarnock. Both the directors and the workforce of 10 sewing machinists had reserved occupations and not required to sign up for military service.
The company bought Jute and Hessian fabrics from Dundee merchants which were then cut up on table mounted circular knives powered by a system of pulleys & belts connected to large electric motors. The pieces of material were sewn together using Union Special sewing machines or stitched by hand. Sack reclaimers like Dickson also recycled used hessian, jute, twill & sisal sacks which came into the UK from Australia, Cuba, Turkey, Colombia, Argentina, Uganda, Uruguay & China containing a variety of coffee beans, flour, tea, cocoa, maize, peas, nuts, fishmeal, rice, malts & bone meal.
The Dickson brothers looked to improve efficiency and output by investing in more productive machinery. Hessian sacks were cleaned out using large ceiling mounted suction machines called Blowers which sucked them inside out and blew the residue of the previous contents into large collection bags, to be sold on for various purposes such as animal feed.
The factory in Dalmarnock was divided up into 3 storeys or "flats" and relied heavily on hand barrows, slings, ropes, sharp bale hooks, manpower & gravity to move the heavy hessian bales and sacks about. A single internal hoist operated through wooden trap doors on each floor lifting all the raw materials up to the top flat in cargo nets where the processes of sorting, cleaning, darning, sewing and printing began.
The sacks were printed on large, hand fed, Sphinx bag printing machines made by Thomas Keay in Dundee. Printing plates were hand cut from canvas backed rubber or customers initials were created by simply assembling individual rubber letters and nailing them to the rotating wooden printing drum.
Sadly, John Dickson died in the early Forties. Hugh's son, Bill, joined the company in 1945 near the end of the Second World War. Bill became a permanent member of staff after he finished his National Service and took on the role of salesman to help the company find more work for its now 20 largely female staff.
Dickson's main customers around this time were local Coal & Industrial Merchants, rivet suppliers to Clyde Shipbuilders and bolt manufacturers such as Lanarkshire Bolt Company in Hamilton, GKN Birmingham, British Leyland in Bathgate and the Glasgow Steel Nail Company in Bishopbriggs who purchased "double twill bags" for their dog spike nails. Remaining competitors included companies such as LBK, William Burns near Ibrox and Thomas Boag in Greenock.
The introduction of Woven Polypropylene Material (WPP) provided a welcome opportunity to bring a new type of sack to customers in the early 1970's. This material was made from woven plastic instead of woven jute, although it was non-absorbent it proved cheaper & lighter than hessian but stronger, rot proof and easier to print. New heat cutting machines were purchased from Germany to handle the modern fabric and Dickson became one of the first manufacturers of WPP sacks in the UK. Their Union Special sewing machines & sack printers were easily adapted to handle the new material as customers replaced old heavy hessian sacks with the new lightweight versions.
Companies able to make the new Polypropylene sacks like Dickson began to move into new markets - making bale covers for wool, yarn & synthetic fibre manufacturers, sacks for food ingredients & chemicals, shot bags and sacks for solid fuels, salts & sugars plus diverse products such as pipeline cushion pads. These long tubular sacks were hand packed with wood wool & formed a protective collar to prevent pipe coatings being damaged in transit, primarily used by pipe coating companies to protect subsea pipes en route to the booming offshore oil industry.
Bill Dickson's son, Alan, joined the company in 1980 and Hugh Dickson worked on up until the day before he died at 82 in 1981 - three generations together for just over 12 months.
Alan spent his first 4 years working through the ranks as a sewing machine mechanic, truck driver & factory manager, then set about developing the business in the same way as previous generations by looking towards a new premises.
Alan relocated the company to premises 2 miles away in Seath Road, Rutherglen Industrial Estate. The estate was modern with a more efficient factory on one floor & the new unit sat on the banks of the Clyde beside the boatyard where the famous Clyde paddle steamer, Lucy Ashton, was built and launched.
The old Dalmarnock factory failed to sell and was raised to the ground by vandals who set it alight a few weeks after it was vacated, the ground lying barren for 20 years until it was sold for redevelopment becoming the Athletes village for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Dicksons began importing cheaper sacks from India & the Far East to compliment it's range of manufactured bags & started making the new FIBC (Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container) bulk bags which each held over a tonne of product and were becoming popular in the chemical and agricultural sectors. These one tonne sacks could carry over 1000 times their own weight and proved a revolution in the bulk packaging sector, especially favoured by fertilizer and builders merchants.
The company also used their sack making experience to great effect offering a bespoke manufacturing service which supplied a diverse range of made to order products such as home brew “Brewsacks”, pallet covers, wool sacks, mattress bags, & meat bags to protect animal carcasses during blast freezing.
The imported sack business continued to grow, and these “standard bags” were mainly used for fertilizers, feeds, seeds and packing everything from wool to scrap metal, aggregates, chemicals, waste paper plus Post Office Sacks and sandbags.
The second generation came to an end when Bill Dickson passed away aged 79 in 2006, he was still working part time as Chairman until just 10 days before his demise, a much respected member of the UK sack trade and Clydesdale Cricket Club.
The company took on a brand refresh, by introducing the trading name Sackmaker, still used to this day. Not only was the company growing as a brand but Sackmaker’s online presence grew with the introduction of a modern website and online shop, called Sackmarket.
Alan Dickson continued to run the business with a staff of around 20 employees through the centenary year and beyond - retaining their sack making facility in Glasgow with the majority of imported sacks manufactured in India and the Far East.
The company continued to grow in a broad range of Industrial, Agricultural & Recycling sectors – more recent developments include the manufacture of fall arrest bags for the construction industry, specialised Bulk bags and Roll Container Covers, horticultural planter bags & a range of patented Securesack™ Kerbside collection bags for recyclables.
There were now less than 10 Woven Sack Merchants left in the UK and only 3 manufacturers including Sackmaker J&HM Dickson Ltd who marked their centenary in 2015.
Bruce Dickson heralded the arrival of the Fourth generation of Sackmakers when he joined the company in 2018, quickly moving through the ranks of Factory & Office Admin to join the Sales team. Bruce is now an appointed Director and looks after new product development, online Sales & runs the Amazon side to our business, which was introduced in 2020 to help develop more direct consumer sales across the UK & Europe.
A full refresh of Seath Road saw a reclad of our buildings and an acquisition of more office space, which was converted into a large Canteen and Welfare unit for our staff. This was followed by a refit of our original offices including a new meeting room, 10 new computers, full upgrade to LED lighting & 2 new office spaces.
Following rapid growth of the company, a £1m Investment is underway to construct a third brand-new Warehouse facility at Seath Road to enable us to expand the online side of our business & hold larger stocks of bags for immediate delivery anywhere in the UK.