History stuff A brief history of paper 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 paper-making. 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 paper-making. 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 multi-coloured 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 continues in use today, 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 is 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 manilla boards, ticket papers, kraft printing papers and boards, black boards and blotting paper, all made from 100% recycled fibre. Uses for the mills products range from the manufacture of printed circuit boards to stuffing in the toes of ballet shoes! Recent developments include a range of special ingredient papers, incorporating such diverse ingredients as recycled bank notes, grass cuttings and holograms.