Many children were employed in papermaking and their ages and hours were controlled by successive Acts of Parliament from 1833.
Benevolent employers, such as John Dickinson’s, provided benefits for the growing workforces. Free libraries and evening classes were made available. The Efficiency Training Centre of 1918 offered further education to under-16 year olds. The Union of the House of Dickinson was set up in 1926, with funds for sickness, pensions, unemployment and death.
The leisure time of employees was also well catered for, with outings, sports and social clubs. Volunteer Fire Brigades were willingly manned by the millworkers.
Family loyalties to the local paper firms remained until their closure in the 20th century.
By The Dacorum Heritage Trust