The River Wey which flows into the Thames at Weybridge in Surrey powered, together with its tributaries, 22 paper mills. This article explores the history of four of these, Barford Upper (SU854376), Barford Lower (SU85438O), Bramshott (SU819345) and Standford (SU813350). These all lie, as indicated in figure 1, near Liphook in Hampshire about 6km from the point where Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex meet. The Barford mills actually lie on the Hampshire side of a tributary of the Wey, the Whitmoor Vale stream, which forms the county boundary with Surrey, whereas Bramshott and Standford are well within Hampshire on the southern or Haslemere headwater of the Wey. All four mills shared common ownership for much of their working lives and in particular the Pim and Warren families of papermakers were very much involved. It is therefore convenient to treat them as a group.
The paper mill at Bramshott, also known as Passfield Mill and not to be confused with Bramshott Corn Mill (SU837332), was 2.8km north-west of [Bramshott] church and near the parish boundary with Headley. Across this boundary, and only 700m downstream on the River Wey, stood Standford paper mill. It is therefore sometimes difficult to decide to which mill early records of papermakers in the parish registers of Bramshott and Headley refer. The situation is also confused by the fact that the two Barford mills also lie in Headley parish. During much of the 17th century the Bramshott site was occupied by an iron mill, known as Bramshott Hammer, and in 1684 it was acquired by Henry Streater a prominent local Quaker. He soon converted it to paper manufacture as in 1690 four men were granted a permit "to travel and gather rags in and about this county [Hampshire] being employed by the Company belonging to the paper mills at Bramshott for the use of the said mills so [long] as the said John Reeves, John Lane, William Vinson and Thomas Bentlett behave themselves soberly and honestly without begging.
There are also references in the Bramshott parish registers to George West from the paper mill in 1698-9 and to John Salter and John Smith papermakers in 1711 and 1714. Also in 1709 John Porter was assessed for his paper mill in a Bramshott rate book. The occupier in 1718/19 was John Woods, son-in-law of Henry Streater, who insured his goods and merchandise in his paper mill and the adjoining warehouse. Six years later, when Mary Streater widow of Bramshott insured the mill, including the wheels, hammers, engines and other utensils, it was occupied by John Graveat. This is quite an early reference to beating engines or Hollanders in a British paper mill. Then in 1739 the mill is marked as "Paper Mill" on a map of Ludshott Manor, which included this part of Bramshott. A detail of this map is given as figure 2 and shows one large building, clearly housing the drying lofts, several small cottages and the mill pond.
At Barford there was a series of three mills on a small stream which, as shown in figure 1, rises near Hindhead and flows 5 km north-north-west along Whitmore Vale to feed Frensham Pond and hence the southern headwater of the River Wey. This stream forms the parish boundary between Headley in Hampshire and Frensham in Surrey but the mill buildings lay on the Hampshire side. Traditionally they were known as Barford Upper, Middle and Lower Mills. The central mill was a corn mill and worked until the First World War but Barford Upper and Lower were both paper mills. The following story, relating to the coaching days at Hindhead, is told about the establishment of these mills [Ref: 'Anne Gilchrist, her life and writings']. "Now and again at night a portmanteau would be stolen; one containing a quantity of gold was so cut off a post-chaise by a man called Pimm, who invested his ill-gotten coin in purchasing land; he built two paper-mills at Barford, a beautiful steep valley; but the mills never prospered, one reason being their inaccessibility." The mill house at Barford Lower Mill is said to have been built in 1738 and this date could correspond to the events described in this tale. Indeed one year later a daughter of William Eade papermaker was buried at Headley.
In 1757 Richard Pim papermaker of Bramshott insured his corn mill and paper mill under one roof in the parish of Headley. Three years later now described as a papermaker of Headley he again insured this property. It is not known to which of the Barford mills these references relate, but on Rocque's map of Surrey dated 1768 the Lower Mill and a second mill which appears to be the Upper Mill are labelled "Barford Paper Mill" and "Paper Mill" respectively. In 1771 Allen Mills papermaker of Barford insured the utensils and stock in his paper mill and in 1774 he and Henry Pimm were using barges on the Wey Navigation to obtain bags of white rags and linen rags from London and to send back reams of paper. The Navigation had been opened from Weybridge to Guildford in 1653 and extended to Godalming, about 16km by road from Barford, in 1763. However in 1777 Mills was bankrupt and a year later one of the Barford paper mills "well adapted for making printing papers" was to be let or sold and enquiries were to be made of Robert Myears of Alton Mill. It appears that Abraham Harding became the tenant as by 1780 he and J Bowman, both of "Barkfield" Mill, were making use of the Navigation, to transport paper, rags and alum, and in 1781 Harding insured his goods at the mill. However the Pim family still owned Barford mills and in 1785 Henry Pim insured the Paper Mill and the Upper Mill, in the tenure of Abraham Harding papermaker, and a corn mill. Then in 1787 Abraham Harding of Barford, papermaker, insured his dwelling house, and the utensils and stock in his paper mill adjoining. A watermark with the initials "AH" and Britannia is known from this period (see figure 3a) and is likely to refer to Harding. There were in fact two Abraham Hardings, senior and junior, but the partnership was dissolved in 1790 and Harding senior continued alone as the papermaker.
The Pims were associated with Barford mills until 1809 when Henry Pim junior died and left his property to his five sisters including Sarah Knight. Her husband Richard is then recorded as the owner and occupier of the mills and land at Barford until 1832. However for over 30 years at the beginning of the 19th century Francis and Timothy Bryant were the papermakers. Thus in 1801 one of the mills, said to be "brick, stone, timber, tiled, adjoining but not communicating with the dwelling house" and occupied by Francis Bryant, was insured by Joseph Burrough, a draper of Marlow who also held Alton paper mill. Two years later Bryant and John Abbot Dusautoy were the papermakers at the two mills, the latter's son Edward having been baptised at Headley in 1800. Then in 1814 the Headley parish registers record Timothy Bryant at the Upper Mill and Samuel Hale papermaker of Barford Mills. The latter was bankrupt in 1816 and creditors were asked to call on Lister & Phipps paper merchants of London and James Simmons papermaker of Haslemere. In the same year Francis and Timothy Bryant were allocated excise numbers 121 and 123 at Barford Upper and Lower Mills respectively. Thus it appears that Hale had been at the Lower Mill and on his departure Timothy moved there from the Upper Mill leaving Francis behind. However there are no further records of Francis and in 1822 and 1825 Timothy was again recorded at the Upper Mill.
The excise records add to the confusion as in 1826 number 121, now used for the Lower rather than the Upper Mill, was said to have a new occupant Timothy Bryant, and also to be 'not in use'. Iping Mill in Sussex which had originally been allocated 122 later became 123 and in 1829 James Harman became papermaker at Barford Upper which was said to be 122. In 1830 the Lower Mill with "drying rooms, and offices and a substantial dwelling house and good garden" was offered for sale. The mill had "the great advantages of an overshot wheel and a constant supply of river and spring water, the latter adapted for the manufacture of the finest paper. The presses and other fixtures will be sold as part of the property, of the whole of which immediate possession may be had". However, two years later 121 was no longer in use and Timothy Bryant was back at 122, Barford Lower, and probably stayed there until 1837. Also, a letter dated 2 December 1839 from W Vandervall of Blue Anchor Road, Bermondsey, where Bryan Donkin manufactured papermaking machines, to William Howard of Barford Paper Mills, discusses a patent for sizing paper but ends with: "I hope you are progressing with the sale of your mill.... I suppose in another week or 10 days you will be thinking of starting for Russia". This is the only known reference to Howard at Barford but he stayed in Russia until 1871 before returning to Chartham Mill in Kent.
Meanwhile at Bramshott Mill in 1747 Richard Pim papermaker took an apprentice and Richard or Henry Pim, Pym or Pimm were at the mill until 1809. They insured the mill or its contents on several occasions and there are other records of them taking apprentices. In 1761 one of these wilfully set fire to the warehouse and workshop belonging to the mill and as the former contained a great quantity of pitched rope and rags the building burned to the ground in a few minutes. The mill itself was saved but the damage amounted to £600. The first reference to Henry Pim is in 1756 when Hannah Russell of Binsted, a single woman, declared that she was with child and charged Henry Pim papermaker of Bramshott with having gotten the said child on her body. The constables and tithing men of Hampshire were instructed to apprehend Pim and bring him before one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace. Both Richard and Henry Pim senior died in 1805 and the mill was taken over by Henry junior. He died in 1809 and left £200 to his illegitimate son Henry and the rest of his property to his five sisters Anne Elstone, Susannah Trimmer, Elizabeth Wilmot, Mary Curtis and Sarah Knight. Anne's husband John Elstone became the papermaker at Bramshott and remained there until 1822 but the landowners between 1800 and 1823 were Gill, Ellis and Leach. The mill was allocated excise number 119 in 1816. .Richard Curtis and Richard Knight, the husbands of Mary and Sarah, became the papermakers at Standford and Barford. The Pim family were also at Lindfield and Sharps or Newick Mill in Sussex and at many mills in South West England.
There were four mills on the River Wey in Headley parish and Standford Upper or Paper Mill was the most southerly, being only 700m below Bramshott Mill just across the parish boundary. There is no firm evidence of a paper mill at this site before the 19th century. In particular the many 18th century references to papermakers in the Headley parish registers could all refer to Barford or Bramshott Mills. Also the paper mills marked on the county maps of 1759 and 1791 are probably intended to indicate the neighbouring Bramshott site. Certainly the paper mill on the 1816 first edition of the Ordnance Survey map refers to Bramshott. The fact that no 18th century insurance policies, apprenticeships and sale particulars are known for the mill also suggests that it did not exist as a paper mill at that time. Thus, although Shorter considered that Stanford could have been a paper mill as early as 1739, the present account starts in 1808. This is the date inscribed together with the initials "B, E.A" on the beautifully preserved block of white stone shown in figure 4, which is incorporated in the structure of the house into which one of the old mill buildings was converted in the 1970s. The initials could refer to Edward Baker whose name appears in the land tax records for 1811 to 1813 and who, described as a papermaker and farmer late of Headley, was bankrupt in 1814. Two years later, when the mill was allocated excise number 120, James Edds was the papermaker but he, too, soon became bankrupt and in 1819 was an insolvent debtor in the King's Bench prison. He was succeeded at Standford by Richard Curtis, whose wife Mary had inherited part of the property of her brother Henry Pim papermaker of Bramshott when he died in 1809. Curtis died on 27 April 1828 aged 62 but a Richard Curtis, presumably his son, was mentioned in the parish registers in 1828-31. In 1832 James West took over to be followed four years later by Robert Long. Unfortunately nothing is known about the products of the mill during this period.
William Warren, who came from a family of papermakers in Devon, completed his papermaking apprenticeship in 1810, when the Original Society of Papermakers issued him the 'ticket' or 'Card of Freedom' which is shown as figure 5. Admission to the Society cost 10 shillings for the son of a papermaker and the ticket showed that he had served as an apprentice with one patron for a period of seven years. It enabled him to work as a journeyman, tramping from mill to mill seeking work which often only lasted for a few days. The Society was active in the late 18th century but was not officially founded until 1800, so Warren's ticket is quite an early example. In 1811 Warren married Elizabeth Roe, both of Midhurst in Sussex, and in 1815 he was working at Bathford Mill in Somerset where, on leaving, he was given the certificate shown as figure 6. Then in 1822 he took over Bramshott Mill.
At first Warren was in partnership with Eli Smith a farmer but in 1838 became the occupier of Hammer and Hatch farms as well as the mill. In 1852 he took his sons George Roe and Andrew into partnership and the firm became known as Wm Warren & Sons. A members of the family still lives at Hatch Farm and holds many interesting records and artefacts of the mill. Until recently these included a mould for making two sheets of paper for 200,000 reis banknotes for the independent Empire of Brazil which was founded in 1822. The drawing of the elaborate watermark, shown in figure 7, features a beehive and the date 1828. Brazil was well known for issuing large quantities of paper money and consequently suffered periodic bouts of inflation. Unfortunately this mould was taken in a burglary a few years ago and has not been recovered. A more conventional "W WARREN 1827" watermark is shown in figure 3b. Also, Warren's portrait shown in figure 8 probably dates from this time. When the tithe map was prepared in 1846, Warren occupied over 30 acres of land surrounding Bramshott mill including the 3 acre pond and Drying House Meadow; the owner was C J W Ellis. In 1851, the mill had three beating engines, worked 20 hours a day, manufactured 20 cwt of fine white paper a week and was valued at £1,995. It was damaged by fire in 1856, between £2,000 and £3,000 of property being destroyed.
Warren appears to have taken over Barford Lower Mill, excise number 122, in 1837. There are several records of him at this mill or what came to be known as Barford Paper Mill up to 1860. However from 1851, when one beating engine was working and none idle, he was in partnership with his two sons George Roe and Andrew and by 1860 it had become a half-stuff mill. William Warren also acquired the lease of Standford Mill, excise number 120, in 1842. The tithe map of 1846-7 shows the site as being smaller than the others and the apportionment names Richard Knight senior as the owner and Warren as the occupier. However when in 1850 the freehold of the mill and the associated farms was offered for sale Knight was said to be the tenant. In 1851, like Barford, Standford had one beating engine. Warren died on 1 March 1860 aged 73.
When their father died the Warren Brothers circulated the letter shown in figure 9 announcing the new title of the firm and the end of paper excise duty. At first they operated all three paper mills, Bramshott, Barford and Standford. However in 1862 they offered Standford for sale. Also, Barford, which had become a half-stuff mill, no longer appears in the Paper Mills Directory after 1865. It is likely that the photograph of George Roe Warren, shown in figure 10, and the watermark "WARREN BROS, LIPHOOK", shown as figure 3c, date from this period. Warrens gave their address as Liphook which, as indicated in figure 1, is about 4km south-east of Bramshott and Standford Mills, because it had the main post office and a railway station.
During the 1870s and the 1880s the Warren Brothers used the pair of engravings of Bramshott and Standford Mills, which is reproduced in figure 11, as a billhead and for advertising purposes. The view of Bramshott Mill is from the east and shows the pond with two swans in the foreground, several buildings on the dam and two others, one with a tall smoking chimney, stretching into the distance. The single-storey building in the centre with two large arched windows survives to this day but with an upper floor. The original structure is of brick in Flemish bond with red stretchers and blue headers and bears a rather decayed stone carved in relief with the monogram "W&S" for Warren & Sons. This stone can be detected between the two gable ends in the engraving and is illustrated in figure 12(a). The upper storey, which is present in late 19th century photographs, is entirely of red brick and has a second stone with the dates '1857 1876' which is shown in figure 12(b). This suggests that the original building dates from 1857, following the fire, and that the extension was added by Warren Bros in 1876. The Warren family home on the south side of the mill yard also survives and has a sash window of coloured glass decorated with an elaborate letter "W" at the centre of each pane.
The engraving of Standford Mill in figure 11 shows the buildings from the north-north-east and they correspond well with those shown on the tithe map. The mill pond is in the middle distance on the left and the upper storey of the tall building in front of this was probably a timber shuttered drying loft. In 1874 the senior foreman was William Suter and the mill had one machine 48in wide and was powered by water. It produced brown papers, box brands, mill wrapping, middles, purple titler, royal hands and paper bags. The mill was burned down in March 1878 and was not re-opened until 1884. However it only worked for six months in that year, for three months in 1885 and for two months in 1886. The balance sheets for this period survive and that for the year ending 31 December 1884 reads as follows [Note: we also have one for the year ending Dec 1886 in Headley Archives JOS].
19tons 11cwt 0lbs @ 10s [per cwt], £195.10s.0d. Loss £26.10s. 7d.
Raw Material: 24tons 12cwt @ 60s ton £73.16s.0d. Alum 9cwt £3.8s.3d. China clay & timber etc £9.8s.0d. Coal 19tons 11cwt. 0lbs @ 18/6, £18.1s.7d. Paraffin 10gal1s, 11s.8d. Oil 3galls 9s.0d. Wages £62.0s.7d. Rent one year £50. Rates (half) £4.5s.6d. Total £222.0s.7d.
Note: Mill working 83¼ days between Jany 1st and June 13th.
Wages: Machine man 83¼ days @ 3/-, £12.9s.9d. 2 Engineers 96½ days @ 2/10, £27.6.10d. Cutter man 105½ days @ 2/-, £10.11s.0d. Layers 51 days @ 6d, £1.5s.6d. Foreman 83 days @ 2/6, £10.7s.6d.
Thus the mill earned £195.10s by selling paper at 10s a cwt and made a loss of £26.10s.7d. The main expenses were raw materials £86, wages £62 and rent £50. The mill probably closed in 1886 but it appeared in the Paper Mills Directory until 1890 when it again burned down.
A photograph of the rear of Bramshott Mill, thought to date from the 1880s, is shown in figure 13. It is interesting to compare this with the view from the front in figure 11. At this time Warren Bros made royal hands, small hands, cartridges, browns, middles, grocery papers and paper bags at Bramshott mill. It had one water-powered 54-inch wide machine, which is first mentioned in 1871. In addition the Warrens were printers and produced, for example, account books, ledgers, and headed papers. The mill employed about 50 men and 12 women and the workers belonged to the Bramshott Provident Friendly Society which was fostered by the Warren family. This held an annual Feast Day on the first Friday in July when 'every member should be present respectfully dressed and wearing on the left side of his hat a rosette of white ribbon'. The records of the Society survive from 1877 to 1912, when it was wound up as larger associations could provide greater benefits. Paper is said to have been made from old uniforms and the brass buttons melted down to make bearings.
Henry Warren, who was probably Andrew Warren's son, was in charge of the mill and the associated farm during the 1890s. It appears that he was not a very good businessman and lost a great deal of money in a venture into pheasant farming. He became bankrupt in 1896 and the lease of the property passed to his wife who set up a limited company to run the business. Henry became a manager at the mill earning £2 a week and was still bankrupt in 1900 when there was a company in prospect to take over the firm. The mill was working in 1904, as a boiler exploded and badly scalded three men. By 1905 it was being run by the Flax Pulp Co Ltd making brown papers on the 54-inch machine. They were summoned by the Inspector of Factories for employing a 16 year old boy after 8pm. Indeed the boy stated that he worked from 7am one morning until 7am the next. However, the manager claimed that he did not actually work at night but was simply there as company for the man who was left in charge of the mill. They were fined £3 with 12s costs.
The mill is not listed in directories of 1906-7 but reappears for one year only in 1908 as Bramshott Paper Mills Ltd making engine-sized writings on a 63in machine, the motive power being steam and water. These dates are in fact rather late as this company had leased the mills in January 1906. However in December 1907 the lease together with the plant and machinery were again for sale and the particulars and associated plans provide invaluable information. The detailed annotated plan of the mill buildings is reproduced as figure 14. It corresponds well with the billhead of figure 11, and the photograph of figure 13. The sale particulars state that "The mill has been fitted up at a great cost for the manufacture of writing and bank papers of a high quality. It has only been running for about 12 months". The equipment included a 72-inch Bertrams Ltd papermaking machine capable of producing 20 tons of high grade writing paper a week, two new Rogers' strainers, two cast iron stuff chests 7ft deep and 9ft diameter, two new beating engines with a total capacity of 800lbs and driven by a pair of 12-inch, centre discharge, 18hp Victor water turbines, one steam engine for the pumps and another for the papermaking machine, a 4-reel paper-cutting machine, two nearly-new 120hp Hornsby water-tube steam boilers and a 45 amp, 100 volt dynamo with lights throughout the mill. The water for making paper was pumped from a well beneath the beater house floor at up to 3,000 gallons an hour. The sale also included 90 acres of land with two residences and three cottages. The rent was £215 a year and all but £30 of this could be recovered from sub-tenants. The Warren family still held the freehold and, until 1915, George Roe's son John Chalcraft, continued to make blotting paper at Iping Mill in Sussex, which he had acquired in 1872.
The remaining 26 years of the lease of Bramshott Mill was purchased by Portals of Laverstoke paper mill, 40 km west-north-west on the River Test. They had made paper for the Bank of England and various Government departments since 1724-5 and needed to expand as they had obtained a contract to supply paper for certificates for the recently introduced Old Age Pensions. They used Bramshott for making postal order paper on the two years old 72 inch Bertrams machine which happened to be the same type as that used at Laverstoke. At first only a single shift was worked but after the First World War the mill operated continuously on a three-shift system employing from 80 to 100 people. Portals left at the end of their lease in 1924 and after some negotiations paid Warrens £835 compensation for dilapidations of the buildings.
After it closed in 1865 Barford Mill became a flock mill employing about 50 people. The Warren family sold the copyhold of the property in 1891 and the sale particulars describe the buildings as a 3-storey brick and stone sorting house with slate roof, a stone built mill with an iron overshot waterwheel 18 ft in diameter and 6 ft wide, a residence with several outbuildings and two cottages in four tenements. Flockmaking had finished by 1908 and Hillier described the mill as one of the most savagely ruined in "Surrey". Little survives of the mill but the mill house has been restored and is now known as "The Old Mill". The Upper Mill cottages survive as a house known as "Barracks" and all three Barford mill sites retain their very attractive ponds. The Lower and Middle mills are reputed to have been used by smugglers to hide contraband spirit, brought from the coast, in secret chambers reached through the waterwheels!
After Standford Mill closed in 1886 the water power was used to generate electricity and to operate agricultural machinery. Part of a water turbine can still be seen in the wall of the former waterwheel pit. The ground floor of the timber drying loft, shown in figure 11, survives as a single storey stone structure, although the two windows in the end wall have been filled. The building in the foreground of the engraving has gone and the block behind it is now the house with the inscribed stone shown in figure 4. Finally the cottage at the right remains in essentially the same form to this day.
After Portals left Bramshott Mill in 1924 it remained vacant until 1940 but has had various uses since. A fire in 1955 destroyed about one-third of the buildings and the pond was filled in the late 1950s. The site has become a business park and some modern buildings have been erected. The surviving paper mill buildings are occupied by several firms involved, for example, in car repairs, removals & storage, making cakes, installing windows and running a fitness centre.
Dear Sir, Enclosed are Balance Sheets as requested. The Mill was burnt down in March '78 and we only started it again on Jany 1 '84 to see if we could work it profitably, but finding we could not do so we shut it down on the 18 June '84 to Sep 30 '85 when we again started owing to there being a good supply of water and worked it up to Feb 12 '85, but again had to stop until Dec 9 '86. We may say that until now after very carefully going through our books that we had no idea our losses were so much as they turn out to be. Up to the present we have made our […] always paid the Income save(?) to the Chichester District for trade carried on in both Headley & Bramshott parishes. Yours truly, Warren Bros.
The author is greatly indebted to Laurence Giles of the Bramshott and Liphook Preservation Society for providing copies of many documents, photographs and research notes relating to the mills discussed in this article and for commenting on an earlier version. The originals of many of the documents and photographs are in the Warren archive of the late John Warren and Marion Warren has been very helpful in providing access to these and giving permission for selected ones to be reproduced. Others who have made valuable contributions include Glenys Crocker, Jane Hurst, Martin Kane, Shirley and Ken Kirsopp, John Owen Smith, Jean Stirk, Bob Trotter and John Wolstenhulme.
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