Groundwood and Board Mill

History of the Mill

1872 - The era of Hugo Neuman
Hugo Neuman founded the Verla Groundwood Mill in 1872, but it was to be short-lived. He could not afford to enlarge it, and production came to an end when the mill was destroyed by a fire in 1874.

1882 - New groundwood and board mills
In 1882 Gottlieb Kreidl and Louis Haenel, two master papermakers at Kuusankoski, founded a new, bigger groundwood mill and with it a board mill. One of the shareholders was Wilhelm Dippell, a consul from Vyborg.

1906 - Limited company
Wilhelm Dippell having died in 1906, Verla became a limited company called the Verla Groundwood and Board Mill. Little changed until 1920, when the mill was bought by Kissakoski, a wood-processing company.

1922 - Kymi
In 1922 the shares passed to Kymi (now part of the UPM-Kymmene Corporation). The mill then continued to operate almost as before for another 40 years or so, though gradually winding down. The biggest investments were a new dam in the 1920s and a larger hydro power plant in 1954.

1964 - Mill dies a natural death
Verla died a natural, painless death. When the last of the old workers reached retiring age or moved elsewhere, the machines were switched off and the doors closed on 18 July 1964.

The hydro power plants on the Verlankoski rapids continued to supply electricity for the local area. The latest power plant, in the traditional Verla red-brick style, was commissioned on the opposite bank of the rapids in 1995. This plant is owned by KSS Energia.

From Log to Board at Verla

The main Verla product, white board, had a good market reputation in its day. It was sold on the domestic market and exported to Russia, Central Europe, and even as far away as South America. The main users of Verla board were box factories and bookbinders. The annual output of nearly 2,000 tonnes corresponds to the amount produced in one day by a big modern papermachine. The following pages show how the dedicated Verla workers converted carefully selected spruce logs into quality board.

Verla broke its all-time records towards the eve of its life, in 1943 and 1951, when production of board was close to 2,900 tonnes. The average annual output of the mill was 1,800 tonnes.

Throughout its unbroken 81-year history Verla Mill produced about 150,000 tonnes of board. A medium-sized mill today produces the corresponding amount of wood-containing board in eighteen months. Comparison of volumes alone does not, however, do Verla full justice, for although its board was industrially manufactured, it was handled during the process by ten pairs of hands and was in a way thus 'hand made'.

Quality Verla board was in great demand for such things as:

  • biscuit cartons
  • book covers
  • cake plates
  • cardboard boxes
  • cheese boxes
  • cigarette packets
  • frames
  • insoles for shoes
  • macaroni cartons
  • packing cases
  • shoe boxes
  • shooting targets

History lives on in the documentary

A documentary film showing how board was made in Verla was shot in the summer of 1964 when the mill closed down. As a part of the Museum tour, it gives a living picture of the way the work was done in Verla.