The manufacturing of security document paper represented a core business activity at Stowford Paper Mill. This was particularly so in the latter decades, where it represented around half of the product portfolio, with the mill recognised as a world leading supplier.

 

Security papers can be categorised as any document designed to deter fraudulent activity, the illicit alteration of a genuine document, or combat counterfeit activity, the illicit reproduction of a document to pass as a genuine one, (a fake), by the incorporation of special features.

 

Protecting documents from fraud can be tackled in several ways, often in a complementary approach between paper manufacturer and security printer. As fraud commonly entails the removal or alteration of print or pen ink, such as the amount on a cheque or perhaps attained grades on an exam certificate, the paper must incorporate features that demonstrate tamper evidence. To combat counterfeiting, the paper must incorporate features that can serve to identify or authenticate that a document is an original.

The Security Paper sector includes cheque papers, bonds, passports and other identity documents, lottery tickets and sweepstakes, share certificates, gift vouchers, excise stamps, ballot paper and academic exam certificates to name but a few. It also includes important legal documents, such as birth, marriage and death certificates, vehicle registration documents and driving licences.

 

Watermarks have historically proved to be an excellent method of verifying the authenticity of a document, particularly as everyone is familiar with the concept. The ability to produce high quality watermarks was a recognised strength of Stowford Paper Mill and provided the basic foundation for practically all security documents. Should a watermark be insufficient in isolation, the paper could be enhanced by the addition of other obvious (overt) features, or hidden (covert) security inclusions, or indeed a combination, to best suit the end-use.

Paper for the printing of Pension payment slips was manufactured at Stowford Mill from as early as 1926 and was business it continued to supply until the government phased out the pension book system in 2003, replacing it with Direct Payment.

 

The first pension slip paper was manufactured by Portals of Laverstoke in Hampshire. In 1907 they leased Bramshott Paper Mill, a short distance away from their own paper mill, to manufacture the pension paper, since they desperately needed to expand with the award of this contract.

 

However, by 1924 Portals had left Bramshott Mill, when their lease came to an end, having by now purchased Stowford Paper Mill at Ivybridge, with the view to expanding their security paper business there. A production trial of Old Age Pension watermarked paper was manufactured in 1925 for approval by the Postmaster General.

Pension Act

The British Government established two committees in the 1890s to investigate a pension scheme for the UK (the Rothschild Committee on Old Age Pensions in 1896 and a Select Committee on the Aged Deserving Poor in 1899). However, it was not until 1908 that a state pension was introduced in the UK.
The Old Age Pensions Act was passed in August 1908 with the first payments made on 1 January 1909. Just over half a million old and very poor people collected the first state pension payments available in the UK.
Britain was now entering a period of social welfare reform. In 1911 the National Insurance Act was passed and under Part 1 of the scheme, employers were obliged to contribute to a fund to provide sickness payments to their workers. The contributions by employer and worker were made by means of stamping cards every week. National Health Insurance stamps were first issued on 1st Jan 1912.
The National Insurance Act Part II enabled unemployment benefit to be paid to certain “insured trades” such as building construction, shipbuilding, iron founding, mechanical engineering, vehicle contracting, and sawmills. Evidence of payment was again provided by fixing special stamps in books or cards. If contributing workers were made redundant, they could receive 7s 6d (90d) per week for 15 weeks, collected from labour exchanges.

Production records at Stowford Paper Mill also reveal that National Health Insurance (NHI) stamp paper and Unemployment Insurance (UI) stamp paper was manufactured at Ivybridge from 1926 onwards. This may well have coincided with the issuance of National Health and Pensions insurance stamps on Jan 1st 1926 under the Widows’, Orphans’, and Old-Age Contributory Pensions Act 1925. This Act provided a pension of 10s a week from the age of 65. In 1928 it was revamped and targeted at all workers, but still with the small payments now dependent on workers paying in.

 

Stowford Mill began supplying W.O.O.A.C. engine sized, pension paper from 1926. Records document production on February 10th on Paper Machine No.2, a total of 7 reels in a width of 21¼” were manufactured. These had been made on the paper machine at a deckle (machine width) of 63¾”. This amounted to 5141 lbs of paper, taking 17 hours to complete. On February 11th, a further 49 reels, totalling 35762 lbs and taking 119 hours of machine time, was produced. By 1928 the paper was recorded as Pensions or Allowances, reflecting the change to the pension scheme.

By 1939, the production records indicated that GVIR watermarked Pensions or Allowances was being manufactured. On Feb 3rd, 24 reels amounting to 20346 lbs and taking 41 hours to manufacture (machine speed of 165 ft/min), and on Feb 4th a further 19069 lbs taking 34¾ hours at a machine speed of 170 ft/min.

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Her Majesty’s Stationery Office

The provision of pension paper was coordinated by HMSO (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office). Formerly the Stationery Office, it was established in 1786 as the central organisation for the printing and binding of official government documents, stationery and publications. From 1822, all government departments were required to buy stationery through the open competitions and tenders operated by HMSO.

 

Wiggins Teape had a long standing relationship with HMSO and supplied papers ranging from naval charts and Ordnance Survey maps to papers for Savings and Health stamps and passports. It also supplied ‘Goatskin Parchment’, an archival paper used by the National Savings Bank, along with some other 100% rag papers.

The phasing out of Pension Books

From April 2003, the Government began phasing out the pension book system and replacing it with Direct Payment. Direct Payment saw pensions paid directly into an individual’s account of their choice, either a bank or building society account or a Post Office card account.

 

The Government stated that the benefits of choosing Direct Payment over the pension book were:

  • more secure – books could go missing in the post, get lost or stolen.
  • safer – no-one had to draw out their whole pension at once or carry more cash than they needed.
  • more flexible.
  • much cheaper to process payments in this way.

The postal order evolved from the money order, which had been established in 1792. The first postal orders in the United Kingdom were issued on 1 January 1881 and was the first country to use them. The first postal order paper produced incorporated a watermark ‘Postal Order / One Shilling’ as a counter forgery device. During World War I and World War II, British postal orders were temporarily declared legal tender to save paper and labour.

 

In 1880 the issue of Postal Orders was first authorised by Act of Parliament and arrangements were made by the Post Office for Portals of Laverstoke to supply the paper which the Bank of England printed. In 1885 Portals installed a Fourdrinier paper making machine to produce the Postal Order paper.

 

A need for further production capacity became prevalent in 1906 with the introduction of the Old Age Pensions. The first step in the expansion of Portals was the acquisition of Bramshott Mill, at Liphook, Hampshire. Bramshott had an excellent paper machine, which was practically new (2 years old) and the same type of machine as the one at Laverstoke which made the Postal Order paper. Portals planned to devote this mill to the making of Postal Order paper. At first only a single shift was worked but after the First World War the mill operated continuously on a three-shift system employing from 80 to 100 people. Portals left at the end of their lease in 1924 and then purchased Stowford Mills at Ivybridge.

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In 1930 however, after a re-evaluation of the business, Portals sold many of their mills, including Stowford Mill, to Wiggins Teape (1919) Limited.

 

Postal order paper had been briefly manufactured at Joynsons Mill, St Mary Cray in Kent, and also at Roughway Mill in Kent, but after 1930, Wiggins Teape transferred the business to Stowford Paper Mill, Ivybridge, having other plans for Joynsons and Roughway Paper Mills.

 

The production book for Paper Machine No.3 at Stowford Paper Mill records a making of postal order paper in 1939. On Feb 24th, a batch of GVIR watermarked Postal Order Paper was made. A total of 12 reels amounting to 11991 lbs, taking 26 hours to manufacture at a machine speed of 140 ft/min. The next day, Feb 25th, a further 23 reels were produced, weighing 23426 lbs and taking 48 hours to manufacture.

 

Postal order paper continued to be made at Ivybridge for the next few decades but during the postal strike of 1971, the companies who operated the very popular Football Pools had to appoint local collectors to deal with the coupons and the money, given the unreliability of the postal system. When the strike was over and postal services resumed, the use of Pools collectors continued which prompted a massive decline in postal order use.

 

In the mid-1990s the postal order experienced a short-term renaissance with the launch of the online marketplace EBay. Postal orders served as a convenient and safe way to pay for goods purchased online. However, e-solutions soon superseded this paper based payment method so the increased demand was short lived.

Hope of Government Orders for Paper Mill

Ivybridge Urban Council who recently wrote to the Minister of Labour asking if some Government orders could not be placed with the Ivybridge Paper Mills, at their meeting yesterday received an assurance that the matter should be considered.
Western Morning News and Mercury Tues Nov 6th 1923

In 1925 Portals, owners of Stowford Paper Mill, were awarded the contract for the supply of postage stamp paper by the General Post Office. It seems from this date onward, two of their mills, Roughway Paper Mill and Stowford at Ivybridge, were active in the production of postage stamps.

 

On December 29, 1925, production records for Paper Machine No.2 at Stowford Paper Mill document a making of watermarked stamp. A total of 25 reels of Royal Cypher watermarked paper were produced at a width of 17¾”, amounting to 13,390 lbs. The paper machine reels were made at a deckle of 65¼” with the order taking a total of 34½ hours to complete.

 

This was shortly followed by another production run on December 31st with a further 66 reels, 34,031 lbs taking 97 hours to manufacture.

 

Records reveal that this was valuable business to the mill, as no production had been recorded on Paper Machine 2 from 10th October 1925 until this production run at the end of the year. It was a bad time generally within the paper industry and the employees at Ivybridge had been on ‘short time’ working arrangements.

 

The orders for Royal Cypher stamp paper in 1926 reached over 500 tons, representing around one third of the total production of 1550 tonnes on paper machine number 2. This all contributed to better working conditions and the employees were generally thankful to Portals for bringing this new business to the mill.

 

In 1930, when Wiggins Teape took over both Stowford Mill and Roughways Mill, the decision was made to transfer all postage stamp paper to Ivybridge, with Roughways Mill turning to the production of wrapping papers. Stowford Mill continued to manufacture watermarked stamp base for the next 43 years, using a number of different watermarks (see Postal History page).

Postal History

Printing Queen Elizabeth's Stamps

On December 6, 1952, The Children’s Newspaper ran an article regarding an issue of British definitive postage stamps, known as the Wildings, since they featured a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II taken from a photograph by Dorothy Wilding. The Wildings were the first and only British stamps to feature graphite lines on the back, and the first to feature phosphor bands on the face, both aids to automation. The article makes reference to a small paper mill in Devon.

 

The first postage stamps of Queen Elizabeth’s reign will be on sale in our post offices this Friday, December 5. They are the red 2½d. and the green 1½d., and Her Majesty recently paid a visit to the great printing works at High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire, to see the first sheets bearing her portrait being run off the machines at a rate of more than two million stamps an hour.

 

Stamps are printed on special watermarked paper called Royal Cypher paper. It is made from rags at a mill in Devonshire. Work continues there for 24 hours a day, and there is still an ancient watermill helping the modern steam turbines to turn the machinery.

 

The rags are first chopped into small pieces, chemicals are added, and the mixture is boiled and churned into pulp. Then in goes china clay from Cornwall to give the paper a fine finished surface.

 

The watery pulp, looking something like thin milk, is spread on a wire mesh belt and carried onto drying blankets passing over steam heated rollers. It is at this stage that the Royal Cypher watermark is impressed. The paper is then ready for despatch to the printers, where it is gummed. The gum is produced from Agava cactus plants of North Africa.

 

We now use more than 7000 million postage stamps a year. Every working day 20 million must be printed, examined by expert girl checkers, and stored away in locked vaults ready for issue to the 24,000 post offices in this country to keep pace with public demand.

The postage stamp paper orders certainly helped to keep Stowford Mill busy in the mid-twentieth century.

Three mill employees receive watches for 35 years’ service at Stowford Paper Mill from the Production Manager. Clyde “Clydo” Pawley (pictured far left) recalled working 16 hours a day for four months to make the paper for the Coronation stamps.

 

Gateway – the internal magazine of the Wiggins Teape Group – Feb 1982
Missing watermark

Collector's items.

Individual watermarks suitable for a postage stamp needed to be both small and dense in coverage, to ensure that each stamp was at least partially watermarked. The dandy roll which created the watermark, carried thousands of separate electrotypes (watermark designs) soldered on to the mesh cover. During general use it was not uncommon for the odd one to become dislodged or even fall off. When left undetected, the result was a stamp collector’s dream, producing what is termed in philately circles, an ‘error’. This term was not isolated to missing watermarks, but included print errors, colour errors and perforation errors.

By the late 1950s, the Post Office Supplies Department had new premises located at Hemel Hempstead from which all procurement of security items for public services was coordinated. This included the procurement of stamps, postal orders and national insurance stamps.

 

Stock control and general security was of prime importance, given the value of these products. This filtered all the way down the supply chain. Stowford Mill was required to employ a full-time Security Officer to ensure every scrap of watermarked paper was accounted for, whether useable or broke (waste). At the Post Office depot, a system of double checking was enforced for every stage in the movement of stock.

From 1968 onwards British stamps did not include a watermark. The issue of British Paintings was the first to be printed on plain (unwatermarked) paper, with Wiggins Teape taking the decision to transfer paper production to their Dartford Paper Mill.

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The manufacturing of security document paper represented a core business activity at Stowford Paper Mill. This was particularly so in the latter decades, where it represented around half of the product portfolio, with the mill recognised as a world leading supplier.
Security papers can be categorised as any document designed to deter fraudulent activity, the illicit alteration of a genuine document, or combat counterfeit activity, the illicit reproduction of a document to pass as a genuine one, (a fake), by the incorporation of special features.
Protecting documents from fraud can be tackled in several ways, often in a complementary approach between paper manufacturer and security printer. As fraud commonly entails the removal or alteration of print or pen ink, such as the amount on a cheque or perhaps attained grades on an exam certificate, the paper must incorporate features that demonstrate tamper evidence. To combat counterfeiting, the paper must incorporate features that can serve to identify or authenticate that a document is an original.
The Security Paper sector includes cheque papers, bonds, passports and other identity documents, lottery tickets and sweepstakes, share certificates, gift vouchers, excise stamps, ballot paper and academic exam certificates to name but a few. It also includes important legal documents, such as birth, marriage and death certificates, vehicle registration documents and driving licences.
Watermarks have historically proved to be an excellent method of verifying the authenticity of a document, particularly as everyone is familiar with the concept. The ability to produce high quality watermarks was a recognised strength of Stowford Paper Mill and provided the basic foundation for practically all security documents. Should a watermark be insufficient in isolation, the paper could be enhanced by the addition of other obvious (overt) features, or hidden (covert) security inclusions, or indeed a combination, to best suit the end-use.
Paper for the printing of Pension payment slips was manufactured at Stowford Mill from as early as 1926 and was business it continued to supply until the government phased out the pension book system in 2003, replacing it with Direct Payment.
The first pension slip paper was manufactured by Portals of Laverstoke in Hampshire. In 1907 they leased Bramshott Paper Mill, a short distance away from their own paper mill, to manufacture the pension paper, since they desperately needed to expand with the award of this contract.
However, by 1924 Portals had left Bramshott Mill, when their lease came to an end, having by now purchased Stowford Paper Mill at Ivybridge, with the view to expanding their security paper business there. A production trial of Old Age Pension watermarked paper was manufactured in 1925 for approval by the Postmaster General.

Pension Act

 
The British Government established two committees in the 1890s to investigate a pension scheme for the UK (the Rothschild Committee on Old Age Pensions in 1896 and a Select Committee on the Aged Deserving Poor in 1899). However, it was not until 1908 that a state pension was introduced in the UK.
The Old Age Pensions Act was passed in August 1908 with the first payments made on 1 January 1909. Just over half a million old and very poor people collected the first state pension payments available in the UK.
Britain was now entering a period of social welfare reform. In 1911 the National Insurance Act was passed and under Part 1 of the scheme, employers were obliged to contribute to a fund to provide sickness payments to their workers. The contributions by employer and worker were made by means of stamping cards every week. National Health Insurance stamps were first issued on 1st Jan 1912.
The National Insurance Act Part II enabled unemployment benefit to be paid to certain “insured trades” such as building construction, shipbuilding, iron founding, mechanical engineering, vehicle contracting, and sawmills. Evidence of payment was again provided by fixing special stamps in books or cards. If contributing workers were made redundant, they could receive 7s 6d (90d) per week for 15 weeks, collected from labour exchanges.
Production records at Stowford Paper Mill also reveal that National Health Insurance (NHI) stamp paper and Unemployment Insurance (UI) stamp paper was manufactured at Ivybridge from 1926 onwards. This may well have coincided with the issuance of National Health and Pensions insurance stamps on Jan 1st 1926 under the Widows’, Orphans’, and Old-Age Contributory Pensions Act 1925. This Act provided a pension of 10s a week from the age of 65. In 1928 it was revamped and targeted at all workers, but still with the small payments now dependent on workers paying in.
Stowford Mill began supplying W.O.O.A.C. engine sized, pension paper from 1926. Records document production on February 10th on Paper Machine No.2, a total of 7 reels in a width of 21¼” were manufactured. These had been made on the paper machine at a deckle (machine width) of 63¾”. This amounted to 5141 lbs of paper, taking 17 hours to complete. On February 11th, a further 49 reels, totalling 35762 lbs and taking 119 hours of machine time, was produced. By 1928 the paper was recorded as Pensions or Allowances, reflecting the change to the pension scheme.
By 1939, the production records indicated that GVIR watermarked Pensions or Allowances was being manufactured. On Feb 3rd, 24 reels amounting to 20346 lbs and taking 41 hours to manufacture (machine speed of 165 ft/min), and on Feb 4th a further 19069 lbs taking 34¾ hours at a machine speed of 170 ft/min.

Her Majesty’s Stationery Office

 

The provision of pension paper was coordinated by HMSO (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office). Formerly the Stationery Office, it was established in 1786 as the central organisation for the printing and binding of official government documents, stationery and publications. From 1822, all government departments were required to buy stationery through the open competitions and tenders operated by HMSO.
Wiggins Teape had a long standing relationship with HMSO and supplied papers ranging from naval charts and Ordnance Survey maps to papers for Savings and Health stamps and passports. It also supplied ‘Goatskin Parchment’, an archival paper used by the National Savings Bank, along with some other 100% rag papers.

 

The phasing out of Pension Books

 

From April 2003, the Government began phasing out the pension book system and replacing it with Direct Payment. Direct Payment saw pensions paid directly into an individual’s account of their choice, either a bank or building society account or a Post Office card account.
The Government stated that the benefits of choosing Direct Payment over the pension book were:
  • more secure – books could go missing in the post, get lost or stolen.
  • safer – no-one had to draw out their whole pension at once or carry more cash than they needed.
  • more flexible.
  • much cheaper to process payments in this way.
The postal order evolved from the money order, which had been established in 1792. The first postal orders in the United Kingdom were issued on 1 January 1881 and was the first country to use them. The first postal order paper produced incorporated a watermark ‘Postal Order / One Shilling’ as a counter forgery device. During World War I and World War II, British postal orders were temporarily declared legal tender to save paper and labour.
In 1880 the issue of Postal Orders was first authorised by Act of Parliament and arrangements were made by the Post Office for Portals of Laverstoke to supply the paper which the Bank of England printed. In 1885 Portals installed a Fourdrinier paper making machine to produce the Postal Order paper.
A need for further production capacity became prevalent in 1906 with the introduction of the Old Age Pensions. The first step in the expansion of Portals was the acquisition of Bramshott Mill, at Liphook, Hampshire. Bramshott had an excellent paper machine, which was practically new (2 years old) and the same type of machine as the one at Laverstoke which made the Postal Order paper. Portals planned to devote this mill to the making of Postal Order paper. At first only a single shift was worked but after the First World War the mill operated continuously on a three-shift system employing from 80 to 100 people. Portals left at the end of their lease in 1924 and then purchased Stowford Mills at Ivybridge.
In 1930 however, after a re-evaluation of the business, Portals sold many of their mills, including Stowford Mill, to Wiggins Teape (1919) Limited.
Postal order paper had been briefly manufactured at Joynsons Mill, St Mary Cray in Kent, and also at Roughway Mill in Kent, but after 1930, Wiggins Teape transferred the business to Stowford Paper Mill, Ivybridge, having other plans for Joynsons and Roughway Paper Mills.
The production book for Paper Machine No.3 at Stowford Paper Mill records a making of postal order paper in 1939. On Feb 24th, a batch of GVIR watermarked Postal Order Paper was made. A total of 12 reels amounting to 11991 lbs, taking 26 hours to manufacture at a machine speed of 140 ft/min. The next day, Feb 25th, a further 23 reels were produced, weighing 23426 lbs and taking 48 hours to manufacture.
Postal order paper continued to be made at Ivybridge for the next few decades but during the postal strike of 1971, the companies who operated the very popular Football Pools had to appoint local collectors to deal with the coupons and the money, given the unreliability of the postal system. When the strike was over and postal services resumed, the use of Pools collectors continued which prompted a massive decline in postal order use.
In the mid-1990s the postal order experienced a short-term renaissance with the launch of the online marketplace EBay. Postal orders served as a convenient and safe way to pay for goods purchased online. However, e-solutions soon superseded this paper based payment method so the increased demand was short lived.
In 1925 Portals, owners of Stowford Paper Mill, were awarded the contract for the supply of postage stamp paper by the General Post Office. It seems from this date onward, two of their mills, Roughway Paper Mill and Stowford at Ivybridge, were active in the production of postage stamps.
On December 29, 1925, production records for Paper Machine No.2 at Stowford Paper Mill document a making of watermarked stamp. A total of 25 reels of Royal Cypher watermarked paper were produced at a width of 17¾”, amounting to 13,390 lbs. The paper machine reels were made at a deckle of 65¼” with the order taking a total of 34½ hours to complete.
This was shortly followed by another production run on December 31st with a further 66 reels, 34,031 lbs taking 97 hours to manufacture.
Records reveal that this was valuable business to the mill, as no production had been recorded on Paper Machine 2 from 10th October 1925 until this production run at the end of the year. It was a bad time generally within the paper industry and the employees at Ivybridge had been on ‘short time’ working arrangements.
The orders for Royal Cypher stamp paper in 1926 reached over 500 tons, representing around one third of the total production of 1550 tonnes on paper machine number 2. This all contributed to better working conditions and the employees were generally thankful to Portals for bringing this new business to the mill.
In 1930, when Wiggins Teape took over both Stowford Mill and Roughways Mill, the decision was made to transfer all postage stamp paper to Ivybridge, with Roughways Mill turning to the production of wrapping papers. Stowford Mill continued to manufacture watermarked stamp base for the next 43 years, using a number of different watermarks.
By the late 1950s, the Post Office Supplies Department had new premises located at Hemel Hempstead from which all procurement of security items for public services was coordinated. This included the procurement of stamps, postal orders and national insurance stamps.
Stock control and general security was of prime importance, given the value of these products. This filtered all the way down the supply chain. Stowford Mill was required to employ a full-time Security Officer to ensure every scrap of watermarked paper was accounted for, whether useable or broke (waste). At the Post Office depot, a system of double checking was enforced for every stage in the movement of stock.
From 1968 onwards British stamps did not include a watermark. The issue of British Paintings was the first to be printed on plain (unwatermarked) paper, with Wiggins Teape taking the decision to transfer paper production to their Dartford Paper Mill.