FiberMark Red Bridge International Ltd.
What is now known as FiberMark Red Bridge International Ltd. was founded in 1927 as the "Red Bridge Bookcloth Company," although the history of the site can be dated back to 1750 when it was producing paper. In 1927, there were 247 cotton mills and 26 bleaching & dyeing works in and around Bolton but, sadly, few remain today.
In the early days of the company’s operation, Red Bridge bleached and dyed its own cloth in various constructions and colours. Starch-coated cloth was the most acceptable binding material up until the end of the Second World War, when the world shortage of cotton led to the introduction of paper as a cloth substitute. Development trials were initiated to apply nitro-cellulose coatings to heavy buckram cloths, and, by the end of the 1950s, a new product called "Arbelave Library Buckram" was introduced to the bookbinding market. This product is now widely recognised as today's market-leading Buckram, and has remained largely unchanged for 50 years.
Red Bridge sales of bookbinding materials showed rapid growth during the 1960s. But the depression, which had affected the textile industry in Lancashire since the end of the war, finally had an effect, and Red Bridge, as a multi-purpose finishing mill, closed in 1966. The company was then re-formed in a management buy-out and continued under the same name as a smaller unit concentrating entirely on the manufacture of bookbinding materials.
The Red Bridge Bookcloth Company continued as a family owned company, coating only cloth up until the early 1970s, when its management realised the market was suffering from a surfeit of covering materials. Not only were the traditional cloths available in ever-increasing numbers and variations, but the lower end of the market had passed to uncoated embossed papers and the up-market applications had moved to latex-saturated coated paper. Red Bridge developed a range of coated papers in the early 70s and became one of the few manufacturers to offer both paper and cloth-coated products.
In January 1974, the then owners of Red Bridge sold the company to the Whitecroft Group. Strengthened by Red Bridge’s ability to supply the new, coated papers, by the 1980s the company was exporting its products to more than 50 countries around the world, and had successfully entered the security market with "Securalin," a coated paper designed to cover passports.
In June 1999, the company was acquired by Rexam and became colleagues with DSI, which had been Red Bridge’s major competitor in coated papers for many years.
The company was subsequently acquired by FiberMark North America, and today operates as FiberMark Red Bridge International Ltd. The acquisition has meant that Red Bridge enjoys access to far greater resources, helping them meet and take on many more customer opportunities. With these synergies, FiberMark Red Bridge has already begun to compete with American cloth manufacturers, and can now look forward with confidence to the challenges will face in the years ahead.