Frogmore Mill & The British Paper CompanyJamie Sigler2020-10-01T12:22:03+01:00
8. Frogmore Mill & The British Paper Company
Frogmore Mill has a long history, with a water mill first recorded on the site in the thirteenth century. As one of the mills in the Bulbourne and Gade valleys, Frogmore is bound up with the history of both the canal and papermaking.
Frogmore Mill, once called Covent Mill, was in use for paper-making in 1774 when Edward Holmes was the occupier. He leased it from Thomas Tower for £100 per annum and he was allowed to remove the flour milling equipment to make way for hand papermaking. The Fourdrinier brothers took over the nearby Two Waters Mill in 1792, when it was described as “a house, water corn mill and paper mill”.
The growth in trade and general wealth of Britain at the time resulted in an increasing demand for paper and many mills in river valleys around cities of the industrial revolution, especially London, became involved in the paper industry. All paper was then made by hand, the papermaker dipping a mould into a vat of fibre and water, the water being drained off and the resulting sheet of paper pressed and left to dry. The process was slow, expensive in terms of labour, and the size of the sheet of paper limited to that of the hand held mould.
The British Paper Company Limited was formed in 1890 specifically to make paper from waste paper. Despite its grand name, the company has only ever operated from Frogmore Mill.
Initial production was concentrated on laminating ‘middles’, an inexpensive, bulky product used as the middle of a laminated card. Much of the early output was sold to John Dickinson for making into postcards. Business later expanded into making ticket papers for the growing public transport market and many of the traditional multicoloured bus, tram and cinema tickets came from Frogmore Mill. For most of the company’s life, these two products have formed the mainstay of its output.
In 1890 there was just one paper machine but a second machine was installed, secondhand, in 1907. A dated drying cylinder indicates that the machine was originally built in 1895. The first machine was taken out of use in the 1970’s but the ‘No 2’ machine continued in use until 2009, although over 100 years old. Whilst there have been modifications and improvements over the years, many parts of the paper machine are still identifiably the same as when first installed in 1907. A unique feature of the mill is that this historic paper machine was still powered by a steam engine.
In recent years there has been a steady decline in demand for the company’s traditional products and an increasingly wide range of other grades are now manufactured at Frogmore. With an annual output of less than 2500 tonnes, today’s output includes laminating middles, coloured printing and manila boards, ticket papers, kraft printing papers and boards, black boards and blotting paper, all made from 100% recycled fibre.
Today, Frogmore Mill is known for its production of speciality papers and boards, with many bespoke orders from the art, design and advertising world. Many of the papers produced are inclusion papers, with decorative additions of seeds, petals, grass and shredded banknotes; not to mention our popular animal poo papers, Ellie Poo, Rhino Poo and many more.
Our popular Air Dried Seed papers with the possibility of seed germination, sell as fast as we make them. We also complete regular orders for Freed of London (a grey card for the toes of ballet shoes) and Shepard Faulkner Bookbinders.