I am not really a child of the internet era as I have come to it a bit later in life (although not that late) and I don’t aimlessly wander around in cyberspace I am however constantly suprised by what is out there. An example came this week when I found an academic piece about paper making. I’ve no idea how I reached it but there before me was a piece of research which included some of the history, previously unknown to me, of paper making at Oxnead Mill. The academic in question is a man called David Stoker from Aberystwyth University and he has given permission for his piece to be incorporated here. Interestingly one of the names quoted is Seaman which is a family name with strong connections to the Spinks family who still reside in Brampton. The photograph which follows the article is one of my own.
The article is headed Oxnead -:
There was a paper-mill at Oxnead several years before 1716; in that year one of the early paper-makers, William Seaman, died. It is not known whether or not Seaman was the first occupant, or if this mill pre-dates either of those already mentioned. An inventory of the goods of Seaman survives in the Norwich Archdeaconry series, but this had been badly damaged, and that section reading ‘in the mill’ has been almost totally destroyed.The only lines legible being; ‘All the paper – – – work House wad – – – . . .£12 00 00.’ and ‘All the paper s – – – zing in the loft . . .£9 00 00.’ It appears that the mill passed to Seaman’s son because Shorter notes that in 1717 William Seamen of Oxnead, paper-maker, took an apprentice named James Dey.
It is not clear who owned the mill until 1748, when John Pollings the papermaker buried his daughter, and 1762 when he died. If Pollings was the master, he must have retired in 1758 when Oxnead mills were advertised to be let in the Norwich Mercury of 9th December. The terms of the advertisement throw some light on how the mill obtained its raw materials and transported the finished product.
‘Oxnead Mills, are now to be Let for any Term of Years not exceeding Fifty, (the Tenant to do all Repairs and have Liberty to Assign) being an old established and well accustomed Paperwork, commodiously situate on a constant regular stream. Nine miles from Norwich, five from Northwalsham, three from Aylsham, and four from Coltishall, to which last Place, Junk and Materials may be brought up by Water from Yarmouth, and Manufactured Goods carried down at the very least Expense; and from whence they may also be conveyed by Navigable Rivers to Norwich, Beccles, Bungay and several Places of Note . . .’
Transportation costs of both goods and raw materials were an important consideration to anyone contemplating opening a manufacturing business in the countryside at this time.
The next references to paper-making at Oxnead are in 1779 when the mill was insured by Joseph and Daniel Ames, and William Parkinson, a partnership who also operated the mill at Hellesdon. In 1802 a man named John Threadwell is listed on a Norwich poll as a paper-maker at Oxnead, and around 1822 the mill was converted to the manufacture of ‘duffield blankets’.