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  1. The Phipps Family
    This family is noteworthy for its contribution to the progress of papermaking in the Dover area and indeed, to a minor extent, to the development of the papermaking industry in England. The family was active in the industry over a period of more than one hundred years which, unfortunately, ended for them in financial collapse. Their activities ranged over three mills in the area, River, Crabble and. Lower Buckland.

    The family had their roots at River but it is difficult to trace their direct line throughout the period. It is known that the first papermaker was William Phipps and that his activities developed into “William Phipps & Sons”; also that their papermaking interests passed to a nephew of one of those Sons before the final collapse. The first recorded mention of the family was in 1752 when a William Phipps was listed as a Churchwarden of River Church. A fellow warden at the time was Thomas Radford whose name will recur in these notes. The ‘William’ who was the pioneer and was possessed of the drive for success died in 1820 and although his age at his death is unknown it is assumed that he was the son of the Churchwarden who held that office for a recorded 28 years.

    Sarah Phipps, believed to have been the mother of William, the papermaker, died in 1777. She had two sons, William and John. William went to work at River Mill, probably serving an apprenticeship. Also working at the mill were Francis Ash, his son Thomas and John Norwood, the latter being about the same age as William. There is no record of John having worked in the mill although his connections with the industry in later years suggests the possibility. A link between these three families was formed later when John Norwood married Martha, the daughter of Francis and Ursula Ash and later still when John Phipps married Ursula after the death of Francis Ash.

    River Mill was operating as early as 1689 when John Smith sold it to Susanne Williams. It passed through several hands and in 1756 was purchased by Thomas Radford who died four years later at the age of 50. It may be a romantic thought that old William Phipps and Thomas Radford, fellow churchwardens in 1752, arranged that young William should become a papermaker. Radford’s will reads, “I give unto my wife Sarah all that my messuage or tenement mill house and water mill late and now used as a paper mill”. William Phipps took as his first wife the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Radford.

    Thomas Radford had a son, Thomas Jr, who is named as operating the mill after his father’s death in 1760 but William Phipps seems to have been the ‘papermaker’ for Thomas Jr. fades from the records while the name of Phipps continually occurs in connection with the River mill. William Phipps appears to have been an energetic man for in the 1780s he erected and operated a mill at Crabble. This is confirmed by a reference in the “Universal British Directory” of 1791 which reads, “At Crabble….. is a capital paper mill lately erected and occupied by Mr. Wm. Phipps”. In 1795 he was linked with Lower Buckland Mill with his sons John and Christopher. This mill belonged to Mr. Kingsford together with the corn mill on the other side of the river. The movement of journeymen paper-makers from one mill to another and even to take over, on lease, as operators was a common practice of the times and so Phipps Sr. with his two sons and John Norwood., who is known to have worked at Lower Buckland, and Thomas Ash who is known to have worked at Crabble with Phipps, may well have worked all three mills at the same time. There is a record. to the effect that in. 1800 Lower Buckland paper mill, while still owned by William Kingsford, was operated by John and. Christopher Phipps while Mr. J.W. Pilcher, who owned Crabble corn mill located upstream from the paper mill, operated the corn mill on lease.

    There is some doubt regarding the history of Lower Buckland mill prior to Phipps becoming involved in its operation. In 1777 Ingram Horn is known to have been operating both Buckland and Lower Buckland. mills but in 1791 the Universal British Directory states, “at Charlton village is a corn mill belonging to Mr. Thomas Horn who has likewise a paper mill in the next village, Buckland, at which place is a capital paper and corn mill belonging to Mr. Henry Pain”. This indicates that the mill was owned by Pain at this date because there was not a corn mill at Buckland at the time. This is confirmed by an extract from “Hasted” in 1800, which reads, “on the stream in this village is a corn mill and a large constructed paper mill, the manufacture of which was greatly improved and afterwards carried forward by Mr. Paine (sic) the late owner, but is now owned by Mr. Kingsford”. Mr Pain went bankrupt in 1795, the year during which Phipps became associated with Lower Buckland and the mills were offered for sale in the Kentish Gazette as “a valuable paper and corn mill at Buckland” and included “a handsome and convenient dwelling house”. So it seems probable that Kingsford bought the property from Pain and leased the paper mill to Phipps and the corn mill to Pringle. One wonders how the two leaseholders managed to share the limited water power available from the Dour.

    The Phipps appear to have been in need of some financial assistance at about this time and this was forthcoming from two local bankers, Samuel Latham and Peter Fector. The latter gentleman may well have had. an interest in the industry because it is known that he purchased River Mill from the Radford family although the exact date is unknown. The known facts are that William Phipps made a second marriage in 1781 to Ann Claringbould and while the Land Tax returns for River mentions Phipps for the years 1780/82 a Mr. Low, tenant of Mr. Claringbould, is mentioned in the same Returns for 1784/88. It is also known that Isreal Claringbould purchased River Mill from J.P. Fector for 2,000 in 1820. It may be assumed that Claringbould leased the mill, perhaps from Fector, prior to purchasing it in 1820.

    Peter Fector was well established in Dover in partnership with the son of an Huguenot refugee, Mr. Minet, as Minet & Fector. Some years later their bank merged with the National Provincial Bank. His son was christened John Minet Fector which suggests some form of marriage alliance with his partner’s family. An amusing story is told of Peter Fector. In 1818 he was pressed to stand as Parliamentary candidate for Dover but he declined, remarking that, if the electors felt inclined, they might extend the invitation to his son, (then an infant), when he came of age. In 1835 the people of Dover did just that and John Minet Fector headed the poll.

    In 1790 John Phipps patented a method for teaching writing and drawing by means of watermarked lines in the paper. The Patent specification commences, “A method to facilitate the acquirement of several of the useful and. polite arts by an easy, effectual and expeditious manner of teaching writing and. drawing which is done by fabricating the moulds, wove or washing wires….. A method to facilitate the acquirement of several of the useful and. polite arts by an easy, effectual and expeditious manner of teaching writing and. drawing which is done by fabricating the moulds, wove or washing wires….. A method to facilitate the acquirement of several of the useful and polite arts by an easy, effectual and expeditious manner of teaching writing and. drawing which is done by fabricating the moulds, wove or washing wires….. by having the lines made and the copies set for writing…… by having the lines made and the copies set for writing…… ” it is not known whether John Phipps was the brother of William or his son but it may be assumed that he was the former in view of the date when the Patent was taken out. This watermark device was used for many years after John Phipps invented it as evidenced by samples in the possession of the writer of machine made paper having “W.T. & Co.” as an additional watermark, in foolscap. The sample is believed to have been made at Buckland.

    After the year 1795 there is no mention of the Phipps activities in connection with Lower Buckland Mill other than the fact that it was operated by John and Christopher Phipps until it was closed down in 1846.

    The Phipps continued to be connected with River Mill and. it is on record. that William Phipps rebuilt to mill in 1807. Their main activities were centred on Crabble Mill and in 1807 a papermaking machine, built by Donkin, was installed. At the time there were probably less than a dozen papermaking machines operating in the world and credit must be given to Phipps for what must have been a courageous step. In Homes Guide of Dover, published in 1819, the machine is mentioned thus “At Crabble there is an extensive paper mill, the property of William Phipps & Sons, in which there is a curious Patent machine for making paper of any length whatever”. This machine continued to run until the mill was closed down in the l890s. It was driven by a water wheel and was without drying cylinders, the paper being reeled wet on a Flat reeler, cut off by hand into sheets and loft dried. The installation of the papermaking machine by Phipps so soon after machine made paper became possible gives some idea of the qualities possessed by members of this family of papermakers. It also brought about a link between the Phipps and Bryan Donkin, and one of his apprentices, John Marshall. Bryan Donkin was apprenticed to John Hall who owned an engineering company, later to be known as J & E Hall Ltd, at Dartford. On completion of his apprenticeship he set up in business at Dartford making moulds for hand-made papermaking. In 1801 he had an apprentice named John Marshall who later was to co-operate with John and Christopher Phipps in producing the Dandy Roll for watermarking machine made paper.

    It was at John Hall’s works at Dartford that the first experimental machine was erected but being very busy he allowed his ex-apprentice Donkin to start works in Berrnondsey with the Fourdriniers to perfect the invention and in 1803 a machine was made to work at Frogmore in Herts but still only in an experimental stage. The second machine, which may be regarded as the first practical machine embodying the results of previous experiments, was installed. at Two Waters, Herts, in 1804. The man who first operated this machine was Marchant Warrell, the great grandfather of Walter Warrell of Dartford Paper Mills, well known and respected as one of the great papermakers of his time. It is of interest to note that William and James Bertram served their apprenticeship under John Hall and it may be assumed that they later worked with Donkin before starting in business on their own account in Edinburgh, making papermaking machines, a business which continues to-day. John Marshall set up in business as a dandy roll maker and his firm continued in this sphere until 1971 when it was taken over by W. Green Son & Waite Limited. By 1805 Dorikin had built six machines which collectively produced some 550 tons of paper per annum. By 1851 he had built 191 machines of which four were installed in the Dover area.

    In 1825 John and. Christopher Phipps were granted a patent for the original dandy roll for watermarking machine made papers. The invention has been attributed to John Marshall who, it appears, made the first dandy roll but in view of John Phipps previous interest in watermarking and the fact that John and Christopher patented the invention it can be assumed that the idea originated with the Phipps who thereafter co-operated with Marshall. The Phipps were watermarking their paper some time before the machine was installed at Crabble and a sample of paper watermarked “W. W. Phipps and Sons 1808” exists. The Kent Insurance Company’s Survey Book 1814/26 is printed on paper made by Phipps with a watermark.

    William Phipps died in 1820 and was buried in River churchyard. He is believed to have had a large family by his second wife but little is known of them other than that two sons were trading as wholesale stationers in Thames Street, London. His two sons by his first marriage, John and Christopher, appear to have taken over the business. The next record of the family is in 1844 when Christopher Phipps took out a patent relating to papermaking, the exact nature of which is not known. It will be recalled that in 1825 both brothers subscribed to the patent of the dandy roll and one may wonder if John had died before the 1844 patent was taken out. Nothing more is known of Christopher Phipps other than his death in 1867, leaving his estate to his nephew, Filmar Phipps.

    Some early plans of Crabble Mill dated 1821 show that the premises included a logwood mill. This indicates that brown papers were produced at the mill around this time, presumably in substantial quantities in order to support a logwood mill. According to C.T. Davis, (The Manufacture of Paper, 1886), Brazil and other redwoods were employed to produce red dye. The wood was reduced to chips and the colour extracted by boiling.

    Lewis Hobday relates how logwood chips were used at Buckland Mill in his youth for the extraction of colouring matter.

    Filmar Phipps lacked the qualities which had motivated William and his two sons and in 1876 he raised a mortgage of 6,000 on the two mills, River and Crabble, with the firm of Robinson & Fisher. From a description of the papermaking machine at Crabble in the 1890s given by Lewis Hobday it would seem that no steps had been taken to improve it over the years and indeed it had probably remained unaltered from the day of its installation. Filmar Phipps lived in grand style and was a notable figure locally driving his carriage and four-in-hand. He was probably in financial difficulties all his business life and went bankrupt in 1888 with debts amounting to 15,000 and assets of 4,500. He mortgaged his properties in London to a firm of estate agents. The mortgagees foreclosed and Crabble Mill was purchased by Wiggins Teape & Co, in 1895. River Mill continued in operation and in 1908 it was sold to the mortgagees who appointed Phipps manager. He got into trouble over the accounts and was discharged. An accountant, a Mr. Crawshaw, was appointed to manage the mill and continued in charge until the mill closed down in 1918. Mr Crawshaw went to Towgood & Beckwith’s Arborfield Mill as manager.

    There remains one notable figure associated with the Phipps family and their papermaking activities, Mr Radford Evans, who was the author of a pamphlet in 1907 entitled “Recollections of River”. A number of points mentioned above have their origin in his “Recollections”. He was probably related by marriage with the Radford family for the River Register of 1786/7 records that Luke Evans of Buckland married Elizabeth Radford of River. Radford Evans was a paperbacker and worked at River and Crabble mills from 1852 to 1888 attaining the position of foreman which he held for fourteen years. He referred to the papermaking machine at Crabble in his pamphlet as the second machine installed in the country but this is, of course, incorrect. Perhaps his greatest achievement was the forming of the local Co-operative Society in 1880. A few years before this he and a few of his papermaker mates started to buy a limited number of foodstuffs in bulk, such as flour, sugar and even a pig, and shared the cost and the fare among themselves. In 1880 the River and District Co-operative Society was formed with Radford Evans as the first secretary, a position he held until 1888. The first quarterly Balance Sheet showed that the Society had an original membership of 65 holding Share Capital amounting to 83 6s 6d. The quarters sales amounted to 361 15s 4d. The Society now covers a large area in Kent with a membership of 29,000, a capital of 500,000 and an annual sales of 3,000,000.

    A final note on Radford Evans; when Filmar Phipps went bankrupt in 1888 Evans claimed £9 14s 5d unpaid wages. It appears from a letter of his that Phipps’s workmen were never paid right out. A running account was maintained, the men being debited with rent, fuel and farm produce and paid the balance. This would appear to be an infringement of the Truck Act of 1831 and the Amending Act of 1887 but perhaps Filmar Phipps was not well versed in the law and the changing times.

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