Received 19th June 2003 from Charles Joynson in the UK


The History of St Mary Cray

J. Coote 1957 Page 106

(Seen in Orpington Library, London)


The manufacture of paper was one of the earliest industries: the power of the river was available and a neighbouring parish, Dartford, had held for many years a monopoly for the manufacture of paper. (Granted by Queen Elizabeth to John Speilman of Dartford.)

The earliest record of a paper manufacturer is that of William Townsend of St. Mary Cray Street in 1784 and three years later another paper maker, Henry Brightly is also mentioned. In 1804 the death of the child of a passing paper maker is recorded. His father may have been en route for Dartford or visiting Townsend or Brightly.

In 1816 Martha Lay and John Hall were listed as the owners of the two paper mills. (Excise General Letters book IV, Register of Paper Manufacturers 1816.)

The mill owned by the Lays, assessed for the Church rate at a rent of £52, discontinued working in 1834. Hall’s mill and the house was assessed on a rent of £80 and was taken over by William Joynson.

Hall’s paper mill was visited by Charles Cowan in 1819. (Charles Cowan – Reminiscences.) The mill then had tow vats and the weekly produce of paper was estimated at 1,500 lbs. Cowan worked from ten to twelve hours a day and in his description refers to child labour.

Joynson took over the mill before 1844, for in the tithe communication schedule he is listed as being the occupier of the Mill, Homestead and Gardens (4) and the Cottages and Garden (9), the land being owned by Joseph Berens. The population census shows an increase from 1841 to 1851 of some 400 people and an increase in the number of houses by 56. A footnote to the return for 1851 explains that an extensive paper mill is at full work, and numerous cottages have been erected by the proprietor both in St. Mary Cray and Orpington. Cowan mentions Joynson’s paper mill as being on of the largest and most complete in Great Britain and that their writing paper is justly celebrated for its perfection in quality and finish. The weight of the paper produced weekly was about 70,000 lbs with a market value of about £3,000.



The Orpington Journal

19 Feb 1949

Between the Wars

1930Century old paper mill of Wm. Joynson taken over by Messrs. Wiggins, Teape and Co Ltd.


Bombshell at St. Mary Cray, Joynson’s mill closed. “Village out of work.”

The Orpington Journal  8 Nov 1930

Page 11

The old order changeth,

What is believed to be the last large privately owned paper mill in the country passed into the hands of public shareholders on Saturday morning when Messrs. Wiggins, Teape & Co., Ltd., took control of the century old business of William Joynson & Son.Rumours have been rife during recent years that the firm was experiencing troublesome times and about 18 months ago there were drastic changes, one of which entailed the stopping of pensions to old employees, some of them with over 50 years service.It is understood that the head of the firm, Mr. E. H. Joynson, has retired and that his son, Mr W. O. H. Joynson, will manage the mill which employs some 350 hands.



The Orpington Journal

6 Dec 1930

Page 5

Village out of Work.

The decision of Messrs. Wiggins, Teape to close Joynson’s century old paper mill at St. Mary Cray has come as a bombshell to the Cray Valley. Changes had been expected but nothing so drastic as closing down, and the blow to workers and traders is felt all the more severally owing to the season of the year. 150 out of 350 workers finished up this week. Some of the girls have found temporary work at a nearby wireless factory and in view of the recent Blackpool decision, others are likely to accept domestic service. It had been hoped that the firm might absorb some of the more skilled workers into their other paper mills but so far it is understood that only two or three have been offered jobs at Ivybridge, Devon.

Mr. Waldron Smithers, M.P., Col Akers-Douglas and other influential persons are approaching various paper makers and the following letter indicates other efforts to place workers.

Dear Sir,

At an influential meeting held in the Temple Vestry on Wednesday evening in connection with the closing of the Paper Mills, it was decided to set up a local “Employment Bureau” to assist the displaced mill workers to find other situations. The members of the Bureau are: Mrs. Berens, Rev. E. Gillman, Messrs. Swindon, Chapman and myself, with Mr. Beeton as secretary. May I ask the hospitality of your columns to request those of your readers who can find openings, domestic and other, to communicate with me at The Parsonage, St. Mary Cray.

Our immediate need, a rather unusual one, is several ladies’ bicycles to enable domestic workers to accept situations some distance from home. Such gifts would be gratefully received by

Yours faithfully, T. W. Bond.



The Orpington Journal

26 Sept  1931

Page 11

Items from the Crays

The war Memorial which was removed from the wall of Joynson’s Mill, St. Mary Cray, some weeks ago is now in the new village hall where it is understood it will be re-erected.



The Orpington Journal


28 May 1932

Page 9


Good News for St. Mary Cray.

A contemporary announced last week that although negotiations for a sale were proceeding smoothly Joynsons’ paper mill was not sold. What a pity they did not read the evening papers the previous day wherein Sir Wyndham Portal, Chairman of Wiggins, Teape (owners of the mill) announced that his firm would form a joint company with Messrs. Delcroix, of Brussels, for the production of greaseproof and vegetable parchment papers at the mill.

We learn that the position in this. Re-conditioning, alterations and installation of the new machinery (some of which has arrived) will take many months and it is unlikely that production will come before the new year. The mill will be devoted to making vegetable parchment paper and, when developed, will give work to 200 hands. As far as possible, preference will be given to former employees of the mill; and, in effect, this means skilled workers.



The Orpington Journal

10 Sept 1932

Page 7


St. Mary Cray Mill

To anyone viewing it for the first time Joynson’s Mill is a melancholy site. Probably, old acquaintance would make it more melancholy.

The mill covers an area of about four and a half acres and whilst many of the hotchpotch of old buildings remain like gaunt skeletons, the demolishers have pulled down the old sale, rag picking and paper rooms, old mill machine room, bleaching and mixing houses, engineers’ shops and stores and engine room. Included in the demolitions was a new beater floor completed in 1921 and never used. Many of the old bricks and steel structural work will be used in the new building, work on which will start very shortly.

The installation of the new paper making machinery will not commence till the new year and it is hoped to have the mill running some time in March.

The present engineering staff numbers 12, all former employees, under Mr. C. Crowhurst, the new chief engineer, who was formerly assistant to Mr. A. Reid, now at a Lancashire mill.



From a photocopy in Orpington Library

Indexed as Paper Making – Bromleag  3/96



Jill French

For nearly 100 years, Joynson’s Paper Mill stood beside the river in St Mary Cray, close to the Parish Church, and for most of that time my grandmother’s family, the Mervins, were employed there.

Through birth, marriage and death certificates and Census returns, I have been able to trace the family connection with the Mill for 80 years from 1851 to 1931.


When I first began researching this family, I knew nothing about Joynson’s Mill, so wrote to Bromley Library Archives Department who were able to supply me with a photocopied map of the area in 1897 and an information sheet on the Mill. I was delighted when I joined the Society and obtained Journal No 9 with Peter Heinecke’s excellent article “St Mary Cray Paper Mills”. This gives a vivid picture of the working conditions which were hot, dusty, and often dangerous. People worked in shifts, by day or night, 12 hours at a time. Children started work as young as 10 or 12 years and the 1861 Census shows young Ellen Mervin, aged 12, working in the ‘paper factory’ beside her sisters, Jane and Elizabeth, age 14 and 16. Their father was employed as a blacksmith at the Mill.


For 30 years, this particular family lived at Prospect Place, St Mary Cray, which I had some difficulty in locating until my aunt, who has lived in the St. Mary Cray / Orpington area all her life was able to pinpoint it for me. Prospect Place is a group of four small cottages near the Albert Public House (Lower Road). Later on, other members of the Mervin family were housed in Market Meadow. where a row of terrace houses were built by the Joynson family for mill employees. They attended the Temple Church - built by William Joynson in 1851.


In 1931, my great-great uncle Benjamin Mervin, who had succeeded his father as blacksmith at the Mill, died and in the same year Edmund Joynson retired. By then Britain was in the middle of the slump and the labour forces at the Mill had been cut back by about a third. With no improvement in the economic position, Joynson’s Mill was sold to a papermaking partnership. It eventually closed in 1967. Today there is no trace of it, apart from the yellow brick wall between the industrial estate and the main road.



“St Mary Paper Mills “by Peter Heinecke. (Bromley Borough Local History publication No. 9)

Bromley Library Archives Department.(Maps . information, census returns)

“An Illustrated Guide to St Mary Cray” by John Blundell. Personal recollections of relatives. General Register Office, St Catherine’s House.



St Mary Cray – by John Blundell

01689 824748

Page 21


Sadly, the fine 18th century mansion known as the Rookery is no more, and is now recalled only in name (it had once been the property of William Joynson). Neglected for many years, plans had actually been prepared for converting it into flats. In spite of its Grade II listing, it was finally demolished following a mysterious fire on the night of April 16th 1980. The house had changed hands many times but latterly owned by the London Borough of Bromley, which must accept a major responsibility for this sad loss.


Effingham Lodge on the other side of the High Street was also once owned by Edmund Joynson, the highly respected owner of St. Mary Cray Paper Mill. As we shall see, he was a great benefactor of the village.

Only the stables and boundary wall of the property remain; the latter became dangerous and a controversial reconstruction was undertaken in 1992. The stables have since been converted to residential use (1996).

A large watermill once stood between Effingham Lodge and Spring Hall to the north. There is an interesting note about its sale in the diary of Henry Snelling (1849-1914):

14th August 1872

‘Attended Baxter and Payne’s sale of Mrs. Mosyer’s property at the Mart - called May in the evening - says Mr. Joynson wants to buy mill and premises at about £8,000 to make a Park for the Public. Cracked a bottle of claret over it and told him Papa would take £8,000 clear and remove all buildings etc.’

(I am indebted to Lady Jean Carroll for providing this information, which gives yet another example of Mr. Joynsons interest in providing public amenities.)


The Temple Church (1954) replaces the original Italianate flint and stone building erected by William Joynson in 1851 at a cost of £12,000. The Moffat Hall (1891) and the small lodge are also of flint, and the original group must have been most attractive, judging by old photographs. The fine railings along the front wall were removed for the war effort and have never been replaced. The wall remains. A strange feature of the old church was that it incorporated large clock dials which faced the cardinal points; villagers in those days must have found it quite easy to keep a check on the time!


William’s grandson, Edmund Joynson, also helped finance the building of St. Mary Cray Village Hall, Library and Baths which are a little further along the High Street. Spring Lodge, north of the Hall is a warden controlled home for the elderly, was built on the site of a large barn.



Paper Makers 1817 – 1967

‘William Nash’

by W. S. Shears

Published in 1950 for a private circulation.

Batchworth Press Ltd


Several interesting legends have survived Mary Ann Nash; how, when she made her rounds of the Mill, she was always accompanied by a small white dog; how she used to drive to London weekly, in a dog-cart, to see her customers, collect accounts and draw the money for wages from the Bank. She kept an account at the Southwark Branch of the West­minster Bank, just south of London Bridge, and believed to be the most southerly of any London bank at that time. (‘William Nash, Limited, still has an account at that Branch.)


The story is also told that William Joynson, who in the latter part of the nineteenth century achieved international fame as a papermaker, but at this time in the very early stages of his career at the St. Mary Cray Mills, used to get a lift to the City when Mary Ann Nash drove up, he having as yet no carriage of his own.


Under her husband’s Will, which is dated 8 February 1845, she inherited the profits of the business and rents from property (subject to a charge to pay 10s. a week to her husband’s mother) until her sons came of age. The Trustees of the Will were John Hunt and Thomas Hunt, Rag Merchants, of Sea Coal Lane, Skinner Street, London, from whose firm William Nash, Limited, still buys to this day. The Will disposed of properties at Deptford and Hemel Hempstead, in addition to local property, and reveals that the Mill premises were leased from James Chapman, esquire, of Paul’s Cray Hill One other document shows that the rental of the Mill was £442 per annum, payable half-yearly, less Income Tax at 2d. (two pence) in the £.


Mrs. Mary Ann Nash died on 7 June 1852. Of their four children only the daughter (born 8 December 1831 and named Mary Ann also) who became Mrs. Peel, exceeded the short allotted span of the men folk of the Nash family. The three boys: John, the youngest, died at the age of two or three; Thomas, the eldest, died at twenty-one, but not before he had carried out some enlargements of the premises. His name and the date 1853 were still to be seen in 1947 inset in the wall of a building now demolished. William, the second son, followed his brother as Manager for the Trustees until he reached the age of twenty-one, when he took over the Mill, married Mary Ann Gardiner, in 1859, and raised a family of three girls and two boys. Miss Gardiner, who came of a papermaking family then established at Foot’s Cray, was described by those who remembered her as a very sweet and lovely woman. She predeceased her husband and so the Mill was again left (in 1879) to Trustees until such time as the sons came of age.


During the management of William Nash, sole proprietor from his coming-of-age in 1857, the Mill prospered steadily, but little appears to have been done towards any expansion of the business. Some of the facts set out in the Select Com­mittee Report of 1861, mentioned below, provide good grounds for caution. He seems to have been of that tempera­ment, and also to have shared in the characteristic attribute of his age for landed property in which he made considerable investments. Crayfield House was built for him by the Chap­man family, in 1870, and to it he and his family moved from the old Mill House. The old house was built right into the Mill, the shaft of the water-wheel protruding through a wall into the kitchen.


William married a second time, died 11 September 1879, and was buried beside Foot’s Cray Baptist Chapel.


A letter which William wrote at the age of ten to his mother is so well composed and beautifully written that it has been reproduced on page 17. And a reminiscence of him at the Mill has been left in a letter which Mr. William Rogers wrote to Colonel Nash as recently as 5 May 1945:


Page 36


began the most remarkable expansion of international com­merce known to history. Except for slight setbacks in 1901 and 1908, the value of this commerce rose every year till 1914, a rise almost ‘by leaps and bounds.’ Although this increase in value was in part attributable to higher prices, money wages, for example, were never worth so much in purchasing power as in the early 1900s. Such was the expansion of the nation’s income and wealth that in 1913-14 the Government could raise and spend £200 million without difficulty against the £50 million not so easily come by sixty or seventy years before.


Internally, the growth of limited liability companies and of municipal trading had important consequences. The advance of trade, the improved transport facilities (railways, steam­ships and the motor vehicles), the harnessing of electric power, all involved the employment of capital, and greatly increased the number and importance of shareholders and the activity of the Stock Exchange. Municipal reform began in 1835, but it was not until I888 that elected County Councils were established, soon followed by the creation of Urban and Rural District Councils; the London County Council was estab­lished in that year, and in the next twenty years carried out many new schemes of social welfare. Before the last War, Local Loans exceeded £1000 million. Furthermore, all through the nineteenth century, Africa and India, Australia and the Pacific and the whole American Continent were being developed by British capital, that is, our people accumulated their savings and invested them overseas, to lubricate trade and earn interest and dividends that were re-employed at home to everybody’s advantage. Banking and Insurance kept pace with this enormous growth of trade and investment. The Bank of England and nearly six hundred private banks which, at the beginning of the century, had grappled with the financial demands of their day, and in the course of it intro­duced the use of cheques (which became a commonly English habit of great effect), had in later years begun the consolidation which made possible large scale banking facilities. In the Great War of 1914-18 Bank amalgamations evolved the ‘Big Five’ of today.


All this trade and commerce, nourished by the services of finance, insurance and transport, made greater and greater demands on the paper makers. Not only were more docu­ments, books and ledgers required, more writing-paper con­sumed, more statutes and regulations printed and circulated, but more bank notes, more share and loan certificates, bonds and policies were wanted to record the multifarious transactions of the greatest industrial and commercial nation in the world.


It was in this sphere, in the Edwardian era, that William and Harry Nash set out to meet by the use of machines the demand for high grade papers which had formerly been adequately supplied by hand.


In 1898 No. 2 Machine was installed, complete with Beaters and a Festoon Air Dryer. A 250 horse power Pollit and Wigzell double-expansion condensing engine was erected and christened ‘Victor’. This steam engine earned its title for it was to give thirty years of good service, mostly at a consider­able overload. In fact, all the 1898 work was very well done, except the Festoon Dryer. No. 2 Machine itself, now largely rebuilt with a new wire frame and presses and extra drying cylinders, is still giving excellent service. The Festoon Dryer, a complete failure, was soon replaced with one of the orthodox drum pattern Dryers, purchased secondhand from Joynson’s of St. Mary Cray.



St. Mary Cray Paper Mills

by Peter Heinecke

St. Mary Cray Paper Mills in "Industry and Enterprise", Bromley Borough Local History No.9.   This was published about 1990 or 1991 by Bromley Borough Local History Society, although the date does not appear on the publication.   It has the ISBN 0 905685 08 3 [Source information given to me (Richard Barrows) by the author.]


From a photocopy in Orpington Library


Paper making in St. Mary Cray has a history spanning two hundred and ten years. The record in neighbouring St. Paul’s Cray is slightly longer. For much of their history the two centres were associated with two famous names in the industry: St. Mary Cray with William Joynson and St. Paul’s Cray with William Nash. On the latter, the reader may consult a detailed company history written by W. S. Shears, “William Nash of St. Paul’s Cray, Papermakers,” published in 1950. St. Mary Cray mill never found a comparable historian and now although less than a quarter of a century has elapsed since the mill closed, little remains: a single box-file of papers, a couple of scrap-book albums, an old plan, scattered references and reminiscences and the battered yellow brick wall which divides the present industrial estate from the main road, Sevenoaks Way.


The earliest mentions of paper makers in St. Mary Cray are no more than names and dates in insurance records: Nicholas Townsend in 1757 and William Sims in 1771. With them we are at the beginning of the industrial Revolution. The subsequent story, the harnessing of water power, then steam power to industry, the introduction of new machinery, the patenting of improvements, the growth of labour intensive industry and its eventual decline, reflects the general pattern of that revolution.


In 1786 Samuel Lay of Sittingbourne was manufacturing paper in St. Mary Cray. Lay’s watermarked paper may still be identified. The earliest example, dated to 1789 shows a fleur-de-lys on a crowned shield while another marked S.L. 1794 shows Britannia in a crowned circle. Whether these were produced at St. Mary Cray or Sittingbourne is not known. He seems to have worked both mills until after 1800 and in 1801 is described as a master paper maker. The paper was of course still hand made and in 1806 Martha Lay ordered two hand moulds for the St. Mary Cray mill. Ten years later two mills are recorded on adjacent sites, operated by Martha Lay and John Hall. Lay’s mill appears as No.326 in the government Excise Lists and Hall’s as No.327. These moulds consisted of wooden frames with a covering of wire acting as a sieve. The single sheet of paper was formed by dipping the mould in a vat of fibres suspended in water, lifting it out and draining the water. Writing his ‘Reminiscences’ some 60 years later Charles Cowan described the process:


“In the end of May 1819, I was dispatched to learn my business as papermaker to St. Mary Cray, Kent, . . . where I was to work at the various branches of the trade: attending the paper engines for the preparation of the pulp, making the paper at the vat in single sheets, couching — the damp sheet being (as soon as formed upon the frame or mould) couched upon a woollen felt, of which there were from seven to eight or nine quires in a ‘post’ - requiring the labours of two men and a boy for half-an-hour for each ‘post,’ or about twenty ‘posts’ in each day of ten or twelve hours. . . . Paper when made by hand required at least three weeks, under favourable circumstances, before it was fit for market . . . The labour imposed upon the vatman and coucher, owing to their constant stooping posture aggravated by the heat of the vat and the often dense steam, is peculiarly severe. I do not consider it as actually unhealthy, but I am confident that such men became prematurely old, and at fifty years of age have the appearance of having reached fully the threescore and ten.


“The formation of the sheet on the mould is a very delicate operation, requiring great skill and practice, particularly the ‘shake’. There is nearly as much difference in the ‘shakes’ of different workmen as in the features of their countenances. The mould with the film of wet pulp upon it is then received by the coucher, who presses it upon one of a pile or ‘post’ of woollen felts, which imbibe a portion of the water, and which ‘post’, when full, being a sheet of paper and a felt alternatively, is brought under a powerful mechanical or hydraulic press, by which the water is pressed out, after which the sheets of paper, though still very wet, can be handled.


“So long as paper was made by hand no sheet could be made larger than the length to which the vatman could stretch his arms in order to dip the mould or frame in the vat, and if the sheet exceeded three feet in length the labour was exceedingly severe. . . . I worked for six months at all the processes for making paper by hand    When I worked at the mill at St. Mary Cray, it was upon a very small scale, there being but two vats. There was a beautiful stream of clear water called the Cray, and there was a constant levee of splendid trout in the tail-race below the water-wheel. . . . The weight of the paper at the two vats per week did probably not exceed 1500 lbs.”


By the time Cowan was writing, Joynson’s had increased the output some forty-five fold. Cowan does not say whether he worked for Martha Lay or John Hall, but the point is academic, for in 15 years both had gone, while his detailed description takes us behind the names and dates into the reality of these early hand mills.


The mills and land were the freehold property of the lord of the manor, Joseph Berens of Kevington who in June 1835 leased them to William Joynson. The lease was extended in 1845, 1851 and 1870 to run to 1884, after which Joynson’s appear to have acquired the full freehold. For his £500 per annum (later reduced to £485) Joynson got one working mill, formerly John Hall’s or the Lower Mill, together with the mill pond, a wheelhouse and fall of water which had been canalized, the site of Martha Lay’s mill which had been dismantled and about half an acre of land extending westwards on which he was later to expand. Joynson, who came from Snodland, commemorated the establishment of his new business by having three lead cisterns cast with the initials and date “W.J. 1834.”


The years 1801 to 1807 had seen the development and patenting of the papermaking machine which was to become known as the Fourdrinier. Between 1830 and 1842 the number of machines in the country increased from under 100 to 356 while the number of vats declined proportionately. Joynson was quick not only to install a machine but to patent his own improvement to it. In the 1820s a roller with a laid wire surface had been added to the Fourdrinier. This “dandy roll” passed over the pulp and assisted in forming the paper. The wire left a permanent impression of lines in the paper, a watermark of sorts. In 1839 Joynson was granted Letters Patent No.7977 for his invention of “A certain improvement or certain improvements in the manufacture of paper,” consisting of “affixing projecting letters, figures, or devices upon a revolving axis carrying arms, rings, or covered with wire cloth, such as is known by the name of the dandy roll, the dancer, the top roller, &c. for making paper by rotary machinery, and whereby I make water-marks in the paper by the indentation of the said raised letters, figures or devices while in the process of making the paper. William Joynson is rightly given credit as the inventor of the machine watermark.


Expansion followed rapidly with the installation of a second machine and construction of the “New Mill” extending westwards to the present frontage. The date 1860 has appeared in print and needs correction. It was taken from a letter by the then very elderly Edmund Joynson to the works manager in 1948, in which he admitted, “but I have no real data to go on.” In fact the second machine was in place by 1853 for in that year Gabriel Planche published “De l’Industrie de la Papeterie,” in which he recounts a visit to Joynson’s, “a mill which is considered to be of first class in the papermaking industry — a mill with two machines. . . “ Planche is full of praise for Joynson’s management qualities, his steam driven machines and other “quite exceptional equipment,” with which he produced 25 to 30,000 Kg (between 55,000 and 66,000 lbs) of fine papers a week, from “only the best quality rags.


William Joynson died in 1874 leaving the business under trusteeship to his two grandsons who were not set of age. One of them, William. drowned on a continental tour the following year, leaving Edmund Hamborough Joynson the sole heir. The years of  trusteeship saw a sharp decline in profits from £38,694. 8s . 2d. in 1876 to less than half that in 1881, although output was kept up at about 70,000 lbs per week in 1878 with a market value of around £3000, and the mill employing Some 700 people in 1881. E. H. Joynson took over the firm in September 1882 and within a year was investing in a large installation of rag boilers, rag breaking engines and a new steam engine, and building a new beater  house in the Old Mill near the Church.


Difficulty in obtaining sufficient rag, with consequent need to import and rising prices were a constant problem of 19th century papermakers In his first year E. H. Joynson discovered that of his total expenditure 43½% was on rag, compared with 12 1/3% on wages and salaries. As early as 1852 his grandfather had tried lowering costs by making paper with a large mixture of straw, but Edmund seems to have stuck to rag made “high class writing papers which are so largely used by all the first class firms … . noted for then superior quality, absolute purity and perfect finish”  in the words of an advertisement  of 1891 . A list of his customers verifies this claim. including such famous names as Wm. Collins, De La Rue, J . Dickinson, C Letts, Low Sampson, . Spicer, Waterlow and Wiggins Teape. In 1914 it was to Joynson that the Bank of England turned for the paper on which to print the first currency notes, the £1 and 10 shilling, known as Bradbury’s.


One who worked in the mill when banknote paper was being produced, was Edward James Tickner (1902~ 1985). Like Cowan a century before him, he recorded in old age his recollections of his first work experience. They are worth settling in print.


“1 left school at 14 and went straight into the mill on night work - twelve hours a night. My first week’s work, during the First World War, was seventy two hours.  Seven shillings and six pence I got for the whole week. After eighteen months I got a rise and then they started taking more men into the army and we lads were doing men’s jobs. As the men came back, they got their jobs back. As they couldn‘t lower our pay, . I went on to boy’s work at man’s pay. There were thirty of us and we all got the sack. There was no compensation in those days.

‘‘My father went into the mill when he was 12, my grandfather when he was 10. He did one day’s work and one day’s school alternately. My father ended up as beater man, which was next to the foreman.

“A piece of rag went through six different processes to turn it into paper. The horses and carts went to the station to collect the bales of old rags. First they went into the dusting room where they were put into a machine and they would fly round and time dust would come out. The women used to cut all the rag up and slice it before it went to the boiler house. The boilers were large circular ones with spikes. It was cooked for eight hours. The spikes went round and turned the rag over. From the boilers it went to the breakers, where it went into a machine like a lawn mower with a big drum, where the rags were cut up to a length of about an inch to ¾ inch - From there it went to the bleach house It was bleached for almost eight to twelve hours, depending on the colour, in vats with a stirrer going round. From there it went to the beaters. The beaters was the same kind of machine as the breakers, but with more teeth on the drum. That cut it up finer. From there it was pumped into big vats and it was stirred with big stirrers that went round and round.


Then it was ready to make paper. It came out onto the machine wire as a pulp. It flowed on a gauze wire that took the water out. The machine man was always working out the thickness. He had to get the exact thickness of a pound note. They were the first to make bank note paper. It went onto a roll to work out the water. The roll vibrated to get the thickness of the paper. The more it vibrated, the thinner it got. Then it went onto a roll called the name roll which gave it the watermark. The watermark was worked in wire on the roll. Then it went through two more big press rolls and onto the cylinders to dry. The machine man used to tear bits off to a certain shape. He had a metal plate to measure this shape. He would weigh this piece. He might rush back and start tapping here and tapping there, because he knew the weight was wrong and so the thickness was wrong.


‘‘When it left the cylinders, it was dry paper. From there it went to the size bath. Size made it waterproof. Size was made from bullocks’ nostrils. They came from slaughter houses. The size man used to make a bit of money on the side, because sometimes there were brass rings in the nostrils. The size was boiled right down to a liquid.


“The paper went through the size and then up to the top of the building by machine. It went up four stories and down again on cylinders. Those cylinders were wire gauze with fans inside to dry it. It was dried slowly:  it went over 200 to 300 drums. If the paper is dried too quickly it goes brittle. The size and the slow drying made it flexible. From the driers it came down onto the spindles which rolled it up. The cutter men used to measure it, tear it off and put a new spindle on and start again. The cutter men so would take a piece of paper arid weigh it again. If it was banknote paper, the place would be full of government  inspectors watching that nobody took any of the watermarked paper.  They used to walk with it and watch it being packed. In those days there were no metal bands in the banknotes.


“There were two mills there: the old and the new mill. The new mill made the currency paper and the old mill made the writing paper. In the new mill the process of drying was faster, in the old mill it was very slow. To go over 300 drums used to take twenty minutes in the new mill, in the old mill it would take over an hour.  Some of the paper was very thick and would take longer to dry


‘‘The boilers would fur up and the mill had to close so that we lads could work on chipping the chalk from the boilers.


‘‘We worked twelve hours a day and the mill closed from Saturday afternoon to Monday morning.


‘‘There were some bad accidents. The driers went up four or five floors. At first they had no hand rails and one chap fell head first from the top and killed himself. Then they had hand rails put up. There was a man called Watson who was on the cutters lining up the sheets, when down came a hand. He was doing something to alter the speed of the machine when his hand slipped under the knife and was cut clean off.  Once, at one o’clock in the morning they were working On calendars which glaze the paper and somebody was yelling and yelling. He had got his fingers in the rollers arid his hands were smashed in the rollers.


Somebody stopped the machine, otherwise his arms would have been  pulled in.


“Yes, there were many accidents, but it’s very interesting to think what a piece of rag went through: first it was cleaned, then it was boiled, then it was bleached, then it was breaked, then it was soaked in vats and went to the beaters and back to the vats and machines to make paper.”


Shortly before the First World War E. H. Joynson took his son, William O. H. Joynson into partnership. W. 0. H. Joynson saw active service in both world wars, with the rank of captain in the first and lieutenant-colonel in the second. Between the wars he had a distinguished career in local politics and administration, becoming the first Chairman of Orpington Urban District Council and a Justice of the Peace. He returned to the partnership in 1920. From Shears’ book on William Nash we know that the following decade was a difficult one for the mill owners facing economic fluctuation and trade union demands, but how the Joynsons responded is not clear. They seem to have cut back their labour force from 387 (224 male and 163 female) before the War, to about 271 (171 male and approx. 100 female) in about 1930.


In the middle of the slump, in 1931, E. H. Joynson retired aged 70. The mill was sold to a partnership between Papeteries Delcroix of Belgium and Wiggins Teape and Co. Wiggins Teape in these years were engaged in a series of mergers and acquisition, including Dartford Paper Mills. St. Mary Cray Mill was closed for about 18 months and then after a substantial rebuilding and re-equipment programme during 1932, reopened in April 1933 as The Vegetable Parchment Mills (Delcroix) Ltd., with about 80 of the initial work force of 100 being former Joynson employees. Vegetable parchment was produced by treating an absorbent base paper with sulphuric acid to partly dissolve the cellulose fibers. The result was a highly grease-resistant and non-porous paper or card extensively used as food wrapping, but also for some art printing, industrial and medical applications. Sheets could be laminated together to produce a vulcanized sheet of great strength used, for example, as backing for abrasive grinding discs. The production of  “vulcanized fiber” began in 1942-43 with 30 tons and reached 400 tons in 1959. The mill became a wholly owned subsidiary of Wiggins Teape in 1957 and a programme of technical improvement began in 1959.


In 1963 The National Paper Museum was opened, for which a small guide book was produced. Wiggins Teape had made available to the Technical Section of the British Paper and Board Makers Association, at a nominal fee, Joynson’s old beater house in which twenty items of equipment from the days of hand papermaking were set up.


How appropriate that the Cray Valley should have become the home of the National Paper Museum. Alas, it was not to remain for long, for in 1967 Wiggins Teape, “in rationalization,’’ decided to close down three of their smaller mills, including the Vegetable Parchment Mills at St. Mary Cray. The buildings soon vanished, replaced by a new industrial estate, but the museum exhibits resurfaced in Manchester at the Museum of Science and Industry which holds the National Paper Collection.


Just twenty years before the final closure, the Kentish Times had reported:


‘‘Twelve men and one woman, pensioners of the Vegetable Parchment Mills, St. Mary Cray having between them 679 years’ service, were entertained to tea at the works canteen on Wednesday . . . Among the guests of honor were a man and his wife with 94 years service and two men whose grandfathers had worked at the mill 105 years ago. Holder of the longest term of employment, Mr. F. A. Price, who began work when he was 12 years old, had been at the mill for 66 years.”


Such figures give the barest hint of how the Joynsons and their mill molded not merely paper, but the whole structure of a community. On this there is far more to relate.



Wiggins Teape Research & Development Ltd.; File: Mill History, Win. Joynson, Documents and letters 1845-1888.

Museum of Science and Industry; NPM/PAT/JOY.

St. Mary Cray Action Group; Scrapbook (2 vols.) St. Mary Cray and Wiggins Teape Group 1933-1954 compiled by Mr. Simpson.

Kent County Archives Office; U 2065/T(41-45).

SHORTER, A. H.: Paper mills and paper makers in England 1495-1800, (1950).

HILLS, R. H.: Papermaking in Britain 1488-1988, (1988).

TICKNER, E. J.: Recollections (Tape recording, 1973).

Local newspapers and directories at Bromley Central Library.



J. Hudson, Wiggins Teape. C. Whitaker, A. Jones, Museum of Science & Industry.

J. J. G. Blundell, St. Mary Cray Action Group. C. Hellicar, Bromley Borough Local History

Society. A. Freeman, Bromley Borough Leisure Services.







1936, 1939





Tuesday. July 18th 1939


Effingham Lodge, 248 High Street, St. Mary Cray, Kent.


I had seen in the Sidcup & Kentish Times of July 7th 1939 the following: “The Clerk (of the Orpington Urban Council) reported that following negotiations with the owner of Effingham Lodge, High Street, St. Mary Cray (formerly the residence of Mr. E. H. Joynson and his son, Captain W. 0. H. Joynson, J.P.), the front portion of which will be required for street widening and the rear for the proposed riverside garden, he had received an offer from the solicitors to the owner, who was willing to sell the property.


It was decided to approach the Ministry of Health about raising a loan.”


I only saw this on Thursday, the 13th. The next day I went to St. Mary Cray and called at Effingham Lodge. I saw the nice caretaker and his wife. He advised me to write to Capt. W. 0. H. Joynson, J.P., to get permission for photographing the house, and gave me his address. Captain Joynson and his father Mr. E. H. Joynson, who is the owner of Effingham Lodge, left on May 30th this year and now live at Shipbourne Grange, near Tonbridge, Kent. I accordingly wrote to Captain Joynson, and got a reply giving permission, by Monday evening. The next day, Tuesday, was bright and I arrived at Effingham Lodge just at about 10 a.m., and was at the place all day taking photographs, chiefly interiors owing to the sun having gone behind the clouds quite soon. Mr. Joseph Weeden, the caretaker, helped me all he could. I came to the house several times more during the month, and early in August.


The house’s grounds, which only go a little way north of the house, adjoin the south end of the meadow that is opposite The Rookery. This field is the site of the old flourmill owned by the Snelling family, descendants of whom still live at Spring Hall, just to the north.


The Rookery is on the east side and Effingham Lodge on the west side of the High Street. This house, viewed from the outside, appears to be of just about 1800, and when you go inside you have the same impression until you notice that there is Georgian paneling on the walls of the hall passage that goes through the house from the  front to the back and garden, in the front part only. There are also Georgian mantelpieces in the left (south) front ground floor room and in both the first floor front bedrooms. The doors of both front ground floor rooms and those of the first floor rooms and also the paneling of the narrow landing over the hall are all Georgian. So it would appear that the present house, apart from its west addition at the back, is mostly Georgian of circa 1750, but has been a good deal altered internally and has in a good many cases lost in its windows their Georgian panes. The west addition is of circa 1830 probably. Built of brick, cream painted. The slate roofs with deep eaves of circa 1830.


The brick is, I believe, brown, or russet brown, as regards the original house. If the house had not been cream painted, it would have shown its real age much better. I expect that the west addition is built of light brown brick as is the garage, which probably also dates from circa 1830.


The house, which is set back 8 or 9 yards from the road, has a noteworthy approach to the front door. There is a covered way from the fine old wrought iron gate on the road path to the front door. This covered way appears to date from about 1830. It consists of five bays, having five flat pointed open arches on either side. These arches are of iron and are much ornamented. Above the arches is pierced ironwork, and the piers are pierced. Flat segmental vault. This was probably originally lead covered. It is now of corrugated iron. It is pierced down the center by two circular dome-like skylights, each of 12 radiating panes. Externally these lights have tapering metal tops and are not really domes. The vault painted dark maroon outside, otherwise the covered way is painted a cream colour. Along the base of the vault is an elaborate iron cornice, with a somewhat spiral ornamentation along it, along the sides and east end above the gate. Wide arch to east end. In either end bay on either side the arch has a piece of iron grille across it in the lower part.