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Buckland Paper Mill

About the year 1777, a man called Ingram Horne took over or  established a paper mill at Buckland. Within the next 20 years  the mill was burnt down and rebuilt, and Edward Hasted, writing  in 1790, reported that the mill had been recently much  enlarged. The mill had a number of different owners until 1846,  when it was closed down. In 1849, Charles Ashdown bought and re-opened the mill. With  his two sons, Charles and Henry, he carried on the business  until September 1879, when ownership passed to a partnership  of Charles Ashdown Jnr and Henry Hobday. The new partners  greatly improved the machinery but in September 1887, the  mill was totally destroyed by fire. The rebuilding that followed  altered the character of the mill greatly. The early days of the  mill were on a comparatively small scale, and prior 1879 the  output never exceeded two tons per week but within a year of  the fire the mill was producing twelve tons per week. To help the mill get back on its feet after the fire, Henry Hobday secured the order to make ‘Conqueror’, watermarked business  stationery, from London paper merchants Wiggins Teape, in  1888. ‘Conqueror’ was an immediate success, being perceived  as much superior to existing business stationery. So, to ensure  continuity of supply, Wiggins Teape bought Buckland Mill in  1890. Henry Hobday became the manager of the factory. Almost immediately the new owners started to invest in the  mill’s expansion. No.2 paper machine, capable of making paper  up to 70 inches wide, was installed in 1893 and increased  weekly capacity to around 40 tons. By 1895 the mill’s annual  output was 800 tons and rose steadily to 2,300 tons in 1910.  The demand for ‘Conqueror’ papers was increasing and in 1910  No.3 machine was built, bringing production up to around 70  tons per week.  90 years later No3 machine was producing  paper at the rate of over 2 tons per hour. Between the two World Wars was a period of consolidation and  improvement, No. 2 machine was rebuilt and the mill was  completely electrified. In 1940, during the Battle of Britain, an  RAF Spitfire crashed into the roof of no. 3 Machine House  causing considerable damage. This, and the ever present  danger from shelling, forced the temporary closure of the mill  until 1945.  After the Second World War, the demand for ‘Conqueror’ paper  remained high and the investment in Buckland Mill continued.  Click here for a picture of the mill in the 1960s. By the time the  mill celebrated the 100th Anniversary of ‘Conqueror’ in 1988,  the mill’s two fine paper machines had a capacity of over  20,000 tonnes per year and operated 24 hours a day seven  days a week. 10 years later, the story was different, Arjo  Wiggins Appleton announced that the mill was to cease  continuous operation and move to semi-continuous running,  with the loss 46 jobs from the workforce of 196. The company  blamed a number of external factors including the strong  pound, weakening of orders in the UK and the economic crisis in  the Far East. In June 1999 the company gave one years notice  of closure, stating that a business analysis of production  requirements showed over capacity and that there was no  alternative. On 30th June 2000 Buckland Mill finally closed with  the loss of the remaining 109 jobs, some employees having  already been made redundant in March 2000.   The site was cleared for redevelopment shortly after closure,  leaving only the historic mill buildings.  In November 2004 it  was announced in the local press that the contract for the  redevelopment had been awarded. The redevelopment which  will include both residential and business use finally started its  first stage in 2013.
Buckland Mill, 1880. The mill buildings seen beyond Buckland churchyard are the original buildings which were destroyed by fire in 1887. Buckland Mill c.1910. Buckland Mill, 1928. Buckland Mill, 1947. Back to Businesses Index