The Apsley Paper Trail

Panel at the new Visitor centre at the Apsley Paper Trail

Panel at the new Visitor centre at the Apsley Paper Trail acknowledging the assistance of Dacorum Heritage Trust Ltd.
Picture: Dacorum Heritage Trust

diagram illustrating the workings of the 1833 Fourdrinier papermaking machine

A diagram illustrating the workings of the 1833 Fourdrinier papermaking machine.
Picture: Dacorum Heritage Trust


The Dacorum Heritage Trust was heavily involved with The Apsley Paper Trail in creating a permanent exhibition within the new visitor centre at Frogmore Mill in Hemel Hempstead.

The visitor centre at Frogmore Mill is open from Monday to Thursday 10.30-4.30pm. For more information visit the Paper Trail website. To read more about the history of paper-making please look at the articles Birth of an Industry, People and Paper, and Water the resource.

Demand for paper grew from 1500-1800 due to a general increase in population and wealth and the growth of overseas trade, as well the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It is thought that in England, between 1601 and 1650, forty one paper mills existed, expanding to over 500 in 1800.

The challenge to mechanise the paper-making process began with a French man, Nicholas Louis Robert, who worked at St. Léger Didot’s paper mill in Essonnes. Robert designed and built the first ‘endless wire’ paper machine in 1798. These plans were brought to England in 1801 by Didot´s brother-in-law, John Gamble, where Henry and Sealy Fourdrinier involved themselves in the project.

Photograph of part of the Fourdrinier machine.

Photograph of part of the Fourdrinier machine.
Picture: Dacorum Heritage Trust

Lamp used at The Union of the House of Dickinson

This lamp, which has the motto ‘Light to the end of the road’, was displayed at meetings of The Union of the House of Dickinson. This object is currently on display at the Apsley Paper Trail.
Picture: Dacorum Heritage Trust


Bryan Donkin, a skilful and innovative engineer, was commissioned to improve the design and the first commercial paper-making machine was installed at Frogmore Mill in 1804. The Fourdriniers later gave their name to this kind of machine.

The Paper Trail located at Frogmore Mill, Hemel Hempstead, is the site of the first continuous paper making machine in the world. The Apsley Paper Trail’s aim is to conserve, restore and maintain Frogmore as a working paper mill using their hundred year-old Fourdrinier-type paper machine.

The Dacorum Heritage Trust was involved with the Apsley Paper Trail in creating a permanent exhibition within the new Visitor Centre at Frogmore Mill.

Painting of Bryan Donkin, who improved the Fourdrinier machine.

Painting of Bryan Donkin, who improved the Fourdrinier machine.
Picture: Dacorum Heritage Trust

Sketch of Henry Fourdrinier, who gave his name to the first continuous papermaking machine.

Sketch of Henry Fourdrinier, who gave his name to the first continuous papermaking machine.
Picture: Dacorum Heritage Trust


Before the opening:

•Provided heritage support to Apsley Paper Trail.
•Provided advice and guidance on heritage features including the paper mill, printing and the handmade paper.
•Detailed story line and concepts were developed for the heritage displays, both at Frogmore Mill and the John Dickinson site.
•A design brief was provided, based on the approved story line, to assist the architect and museum designer.
•DHT worked closely with APT and the museum designer throughout the design process.
•Provided paper making artefacts from DHT’s own collections for long term display.
•Supplied images and sketches for display panels.
•Suggested themes for a programme of changing temporary displays.

On-going:

•DHT Curatorial Staff will provide support for APT, including documentation, display and conservation of collections, acquisition of new material and help with the process of museum registration to conform with national museum standards.
•Provide ongoing written advice on conservation requirements for artefacts used in displays (e.g. lighting levels, relative humidity and temperature).
•Offer advice on the insurance of artefacts on loan to APT.

By Dacorum Heritage Trust

The Dacorum Heritage Trust Ltd.

The Museum Store, Clarence Road, Berkhamsted, Herts HP4 3YL

Telephone/Fax 01442 879525   Email info@dacorumheritage.org.uk

Registered in England No. 2851313 | Registered Charity No. 1026161 | Accredited Museum No. 1594 | Status: Fully accredited museum.