Paper making in Ivybridge began in 1787 when William Dunsterville purchased the lease for the Barton of Stowford from the Lukesland Estate. Having previous experience of paper manufacturing at Mill Bay Paper Mill in Plymouth, his prime interest was to establish a paper mill close to the existing corn mill and leat. Paper at this time was made from rags which required a mechanical process to break down the fabrics into the discrete fibres necessary to form paper. Water from the existing leat would turn a water wheel to generate the necessary power for these processes.

 

By 1814, a second paper was established in Ivybridge. Permission was granted to William Pym to build a paper mill on the right bank of the River Erme, by Sir John Rogers, lord of the manor of Ivybridge. Like Stowford, this new mill was sited close to a corn mill, in this instance, the old manorial corn mills. It also relied upon a leat to divert water to operate the machinery, the flow was sufficient for both the paper and corn mills to share the supply. It is unclear whether this Pym’s mill was producing similar quality paper to Stowford Mill but it certainly evolved to be vastly different.

William Pym died in 1831. His sons William, Henry and John were all recorded as being papermakers, so one assumes they carried on the business at Ivybridge. In 1839 however, Benjamin Holman, a local paper maker operating a mill at nearby Lee Mill Bridge entered discussions to purchase Pym’s paper mill and by 1840 a deal was finalised. Paper Mill directories listed both of Holman’s mills, indicating that they were manufacturing ‘sugar papers, browns, thin browns, double small caps’. The paper machine at Lee Mill Bridge being 50” in width and the one at Ivybridge 51” wide. The papers listed were all essentially lower grade wrapping papers, made from rough or off-white rags and tough waste material such as old ropes, sails and canvas. Sugar paper was blue or purple in colour and was produced specifically for wrapping sugar cones. It must be remembered that before grocer’s shops were able to sell sugar in granulated form, it was always transported in large cone-shaped sugar loaves.

 

Benjamin Holman’s father, also named Benjamin, established Lee Mill Bridge Paper Mills around 1833. One would imagine that the business was successful and worthy of expansion to another mill. Holman appointed John Windsor as manager at Ivybridge Paper Mills, leaving him to manage the site at Lee Mill Bridge. As his wife’s maiden name was Windsor, it is logical to assume that this gentleman was a close relation.

 

On 11 April 1870, Benjamin Holman died and the paper business passed to his sons Francis and Henry. However, by 1887 the two brothers had mutually agreed to dissolve their partnership. Francis Henry Holman agreed to pay Henry Francis Holman the sum of £15,000 for his share in the business as well as his share in all lands, properties and stock. In addition, Francis agreed to pay a further £2,000 relating to the brother’s share of the profits during the previous years.

 

Francis was now joined in the business by his son Baldwin under the name F H Holman & Son. In 1900, when Francis died, the business continued under Baldwin operating it as Holman & Co. It is not currently clear what exactly ensued but in 1903, the entire business, along with land and other properties, were put up for sale, after being divided into several lots. In 1902, the creditors of the former company had been invited to come forward following a deed of assignment which transferred the business to Baldwin.

 

The paper industry at this time was enduring tough trading conditions particularly with the influx of cheap foreign imports and Holman’s mills, similar to many other British paper mills, were running at a loss.

The sale particulars listed the two mills as follows:

Lot 7 – ‘all those valuable mills and premises known as Ivybridge Paper Mills, with dwelling house and two cottages attached’

Lot 8 – ‘all those extensive and well-known freehold Paper Mills, known as The Lee Mill Bridge Paper Mills, with residences, numerous workmen’s cottages, farm buildings and accommodation lands attached, the whole extending to about 30 acres, together with valuable water rights.’

At the sale, which took place at The London Hotel on 14 Oct 1903, Henry John Fice Lee became the new owner of the paper mill. He had previously leased the neighbouring ‘Union Mills’ from Samuel Lear, owner of the tannery, where he conducted his corn milling and forage business. Over the next few years Henry Lee converted the paper mill premises into a corn and provender mill. He modernised the building suitable for milling and provided a new facade facing Fore Street. A plaque on the exterior read ‘H. J. F. Lee Ivybridge Mills 1905’.

The Lee Mill Bridge Mills appear to have not attracted a buyer as Baldwin Holman continued to operate the site. A few years later however, the mill was in the occupation of John Henry & Co (Limited), Colthrop Mills, Thatcham, Berkshire. They had purchased the whole site for a sum of £4,250 which appears cheap, suggesting that the business had been suffering financial difficulty.

 

Baldwin, having disposed of Lee Mill Bridge Paper Mill, moved to Exeter where he managed Tremletts Paper Mills. He later moved to Romsey and took over the Test Mills there. During his time in Ivybridge, Baldwin Holman served on the Ivybridge Urban District Council and the Plympton Board of Guardians. He was a member of the Plymouth Liberal Club and an ardent Congregationalist. He died in 1939 at the age of 79.

 

On 13 February 1908 the paper mill at Lee Mill was seriously damaged by a major fire. Owing to limitations of the local water supply, the firemen had great difficulty in controlling the flames resulting in extensive damage to the mill buildings and neighbouring cottages.

 

As a consequence of the fire and the damage inflicted on the mill, all the paper mill’s machinery was put up for sale on 3 Nov 1908. Additionally, there were a large number of buildings and 30 acres of land. With the sale, paper manufacturing at Lee Mill came to an end.

PAPER MAKING IN IVYBRIDGE

Paper making in Ivybridge began in 1787 when William Dunsterville purchased the lease for the Barton of Stowford from the Lukesland Estate. Having previous experience of paper manufacturing at Mill Bay Paper Mill in Plymouth, his prime interest was to establish a paper mill close to the existing corn mill and leat. Paper at this time was made from rags which required a mechanical process to break down the fabrics into the discrete fibres necessary to form paper. Water from the existing leat would turn a water wheel to generate the necessary power for these processes.
By 1814, a second paper was established in Ivybridge. Permission was granted to William Pym to build a paper mill on the right bank of the River Erme, by Sir John Rogers, lord of the manor of Ivybridge. Like Stowford, this new mill was sited close to a corn mill, in this instance, the old manorial corn mills. It also relied upon a leat to divert water to operate the machinery, the flow was sufficient for both the paper and corn mills to share the supply. It is unclear whether this Pym’s mill was producing similar quality paper to Stowford Mill but it certainly evolved to be vastly different.
William Pym died in 1831. His sons William, Henry and John were all recorded as being papermakers, so one assumes they carried on the business at Ivybridge. In 1839 however, Benjamin Holman, a local paper maker operating a mill at nearby Lee Mill Bridge entered discussions to purchase Pym’s paper mill and by 1840 a deal was finalised. Paper Mill directories listed both of Holman’s mills, indicating that they were manufacturing ‘sugar papers, browns, thin browns, double small caps’. The paper machine at Lee Mill Bridge being 50” in width and the one at Ivybridge 51” wide. The papers listed were all essentially lower grade wrapping papers, made from rough or off-white rags and tough waste material such as old ropes, sails and canvas. Sugar paper was blue or purple in colour and was produced specifically for wrapping sugar cones. It must be remembered that before grocer’s shops were able to sell sugar in granulated form, it was always transported in large cone-shaped sugar loaves.
Benjamin Holman’s father, also named Benjamin, established Lee Mill Bridge Paper Mills around 1833. One would imagine that the business was successful and worthy of expansion to another mill. Holman appointed John Windsor as manager at Ivybridge Paper Mills, leaving him to manage the site at Lee Mill Bridge. As his wife’s maiden name was Windsor, it is logical to assume that this gentleman was a close relation.
On 11 April 1870, Benjamin Holman died and the paper business passed to his sons Francis and Henry. However, by 1887 the two brothers had mutually agreed to dissolve their partnership. Francis Henry Holman agreed to pay Henry Francis Holman the sum of £15,000 for his share in the business as well as his share in all lands, properties and stock. In addition, Francis agreed to pay a further £2,000 relating to the brother’s share of the profits during the previous years.
Francis was now joined in the business by his son Baldwin under the name F H Holman & Son. In 1900, when Francis died, the business continued under Baldwin operating it as Holman & Co. It is not currently clear what exactly ensued but in 1903, the entire business, along with land and other properties, were put up for sale, after being divided into several lots. In 1902, the creditors of the former company had been invited to come forward following a deed of assignment which transferred the business to Baldwin.
The paper industry at this time was enduring tough trading conditions particularly with the influx of cheap foreign imports and Holman’s mills, similar to many other British paper mills, were running at a loss.

The sale particulars listed the two mills as follows:

Lot 7 – ‘all those valuable mills and premises known as Ivybridge Paper Mills, with dwelling house and two cottages attached’

Lot 8 – ‘all those extensive and well-known freehold Paper Mills, known as The Lee Mill Bridge Paper Mills, with residences, numerous workmen’s cottages, farm buildings and accommodation lands attached, the whole extending to about 30 acres, together with valuable water rights.’

At the sale, which took place at The London Hotel on 14 Oct 1903, Henry John Fice Lee became the new owner of the paper mill. He had previously leased the neighbouring ‘Union Mills’ from Samuel Lear, owner of the tannery, where he conducted his corn milling and forage business. Over the next few years Henry Lee converted the paper mill premises into a corn and provender mill. He modernised the building suitable for milling and provided a new facade facing Fore Street. A plaque on the exterior read ‘H. J. F. Lee Ivybridge Mills 1905’.
The Lee Mill Bridge Mills appear to have not attracted a buyer as Baldwin Holman continued to operate the site. A few years later however, the mill was in the occupation of John Henry & Co (Limited), Colthrop Mills, Thatcham, Berkshire. They had purchased the whole site for a sum of £4,250 which appears cheap, suggesting that the business had been suffering financial difficulty.
Baldwin, having disposed of Lee Mill Bridge Paper Mill, moved to Exeter where he managed Tremletts Paper Mills. He later moved to Romsey and took over the Test Mills there. During his time in Ivybridge, Baldwin Holman served on the Ivybridge Urban District Council and the Plympton Board of Guardians. He was a member of the Plymouth Liberal Club and an ardent Congregationalist. He died in 1939 at the age of 79.
On 13 February 1908 the paper mill at Lee Mill was seriously damaged by a major fire. Owing to limitations of the local water supply, the firemen had great difficulty in controlling the flames resulting in extensive damage to the mill buildings and neighbouring cottages.
As a consequence of the fire and the damage inflicted on the mill, all the paper mill’s machinery was put up for sale on 3 Nov 1908. Additionally, there were a large number of buildings and 30 acres of land. With the sale, paper manufacturing at Lee Mill came to an end.