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John Dickinson Stationery Limited was a leading Britishmarker stationery company founded in west Hertfordshiremarker, that was later merged to form Dickinson Robinson Group. In the 19th century, the company pioneered a number of innovations in paper-making.

History

The company was founded in Apsleymarker Hertfordshire, in 1804 by John Dickinson, who invented a continuous mechanized paper-making process. Dickinson patented his ideas in 1809 and in the same year he gained financial backing from George Longman. He established paper mills at Apsleymarker (a former flour mill), Nash Mill (formerly a mediaeval corn-mill) in 1811 and Croxley in Hertfordshiremarker. The river and canal at Apsley and Nash Mills provided power for the mills and transport for materials and product.

The mill-house at Nash Mill, called Nash House, became the family home for Dickinson and his new wife Ann (nee Grover) whose father Harry Grover supported this business development through his Grover's Bank. In a very few years Nash Mills was renowned for its production of tough thin paper for Samuel Bagster's "Pocket Reference Bible". A major fire in 1813 was a setback, but, being covered by insurance, enabled redevelopment towards large scale production.

During the 19th century, Sir John Evans and his son Lewis Evans (whose elder brother was the archeologist Sir Arthur Evans) both managed the company.

John Dickinson & Co. Ltd had their Engineering Department at Nash Mills until 1888, when it was transferred to Apsley Mill.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Nash Mill, which was small and had a reputation for independence, experienced a drop in profitability. Continuous minor changes were implemented until, in 1926 it underwent improvements with expansion, remodelling and refurbishment.

The Lion brand was adopted as the company logo in 1910 and in the following year (1911), the Basildon Bond brand was established. Companies were then formed in South Africa, Australia, New Zealandmarker and elsewhere (thirteen countries in all).

Innovations

John Dickinson patented a method of paper-making in June 1807, that rendered his rivals' techniques (principally the Fourdrinier machine) obsolete.

In 1850, the company started mechanical envelope manufacturing, with gummed envelopes for the first time.

The production of fine rag paper on electrically driven machines was a successful innovation at Nash Mill.

The company pioneered the production of window envelopes in 1929.

Dickinson Robinson Group

Dickinson Robinson Group Ltd (DRG) was formed in 1966, creating one of the world's largest stationery and packaging companies. In 1999, the company relocated from Apsleymarker (Hertfordshire) to the village of Sawstonmarker south of Cambridgemarker.

In 1999, the paper mills owned by John Dickinson in the Apsley area were closed and the land was sold and redeveloped. The mill at Nash Mills however was sold to the international Sappi Group and continued to make paper until 2006. This mill has been closed down and subsequently sold. Redevelopment plans for housing are being publicised in September 2007.

Paper Trail Museum

The former Apsley Mill site is home to the Paper Trail, a museum which incorporates a narrowboat ride along the Grand Union Canal and the River Gade to Frogmore Mill, viewing of a working paper machine, producing recycled board and paper, as well as handmade paper making and paper sculpture.

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