There are few references to the mill. The earliest is in The Delineator of the Isle of Wight, James Clarke 1829:
On 22 April 1711 Isaac Tipps was recorded as being a papermaker from Carisbrooke, upon his marriage to Christian Rutter. There seems little doubt Tipps established the Clatterford paper mill. Although the papermaker is described as being from the Palatinate, the word Palatines became a general 18th century term for all German emigrants. In 1709 Britain invited Europeans to settle in its American colonies but German arrivals at London were far greater than shipping could take. Some returned to Germany but others were relocated, mainly in Ireland. Isaac Tipps clearly decided to settle on the Island, perhaps with others, including Christian Rutter. Much expertise in papermaking at this time was Dutch and German.
Nothing now remains of the mill. A survey of the area found structural remains in the stream but these appeared to be of a later date than the mill. The mill was within an area known as 'Rack Close' and there is evidence of a fulling mill on the site from the early 17th century. In 1618 it's described as 'decayed' but in subsequent records it appears to be in operation. The last record of a fulling mill is in 1708. There is no contemporary record of it as a paper mill. The property is recorded in 1756 as 'late in the possession Isaac Tipps, deceased'. Buildings appear on late 18th and 19th century maps and it is still called the 'Old Paper Mill'.
Product and Market
A small mill like Clatterford would probably only have been able to produce coarse wrapping paper, rather than fine writing paper. Quantities would have been small: 1 or 2 tons per year. By the 18th century several paper mills were operating in Hampshire and paper could have easily been imported to the Island. A mill at Clatterford therefore suggests a specific local demand, probably in Newport. We have been unable to identify a particular trade which might generate this demand. There was a build up of military presence around this time and it's possible their draw on local businesses created an increased call for wrapping paper.
Paper mills required high expertise and could not be established without experienced journeymen. Any shortcomings in these skills might result in technical failure. A shortage of, or increase in price of, raw materials, periods of low rainfall (reducing water flows) and non-payment of bills are a few of the more obvious reasons for reducing production and profit, causing eventual closure of the mill
Raw materials used for making paper
Basically paper is a fibrous mat formed in a very dilute fibre/water mixture (suspension) by draining. The wet sheet of paper is then pressed to remove more water and finally dried in air. During the latter operation the fibres stick (bond) to each other, thus increasing the strength of the product so that it becomes usable. Historically it had been discovered by the first papermakers that plant fibres (containing a high percentage of cellulose) gave the best results. The European paper industry was based on old rag or other waste textile material, which could be recycled as its fibre source. On the Island, as well as discarded (wool free) clothing, marine waste e.g. old sail cloth and rope, would provide additional fibre. The latter are very good for making coarse wrapping paper with good strength properties and would include linen, hemp and jute. Wrappings were not made from bleached rag or specifically coloured with dyes. Consequently they retained the colour of shade of the raw fibres, which accounts for the variability in appearance of these grades.
Basic processes for making hand-made paper in the 17th/18th cent
Collecting (rag etc from merchants sold to mill)
Hand sorting and cutting the rags. Female labour generally used. Sitting at wire meshed topped tables the material was sorted and graded (not required for coarse wrapping). The removal of buttons and other non-fibrous materials and then cutting into smaller pieces, normally 4"x 4"
Boiling the cut pieces in open tanks using wood ash as a source of alkali. Considerable supplies of wood needed.
Washing the rag to remove wood/ash particles using plentiful supply of fresh water and eagle-eyed human sorters. This would be done in shallow tanks or stone troughs.
The washed rag then had to be 'disintegrated' i.e. the fibres returned to their pre-spun and woven state. In some cases fibres were also shortened. Iron shod stamping hammers, similar to the type used for fulling cloth, were used. The wet rag - held in a trough- was subjected to intensive pounding for several hours, the duration and extent of the beating depending on the type or grade of paper required.
When disintegration had occurred the fibrous material (called 'half-stuff') was moved to a different set of stampers (called 'beaters') where the fibre was subjected to a less vigorous treatment. This opened up the fibre so that it would 'felt' better during paper formation.and 'bond' better when dried. Beating is a very critical process and the old time beatermen declared that "paper is made in the beater". After beating the fibrous material is called 'stuff' (In Holland in the 17th cent a piece of equipment was developed for beating rags. Known as a 'Hollander' it was essentially a rotating heavy barred roll, which could be raised and lowered over a stationary set of metal blades. Rag and water circulated in the troughs and the 2 sets of blades treated the fibre. It is unlikely that Clatterford had this equipment).
The beaten 'stuff' then has to be diluted from about 5 parts of fibre and 95 parts of water (5% consistency) to 0.5% fibre in 99.5% of water. It is then called 'stock' and is the basis for the papermaking process. This involves the dipping of a wire mesh screen, sewn into a wooden frame and supported by cross ribs (the 'mould'), into a stone tank (the 'vat') containing the prepared stock. A removable wooden frame covers the edge of the mould (the deckle-Dutch=cover) and contains the stock on the wire mesh surface, so that water can drain back into the vat and the wet fibres form a sheet on the mould surface. The forming of the paper is the most critical stage of the papermaking process, demanding great skill and expertise. The 'vat man', as the operator is called, would have undergone a 6 or 7 year apprenticeship before becoming a qualified journeyman, allowed to carry out his craft.
The sheet of wet paper having been formed, the deckle is removed and the vat man passes the full mould to his assistant and proceeds to make another sheet of paper in a second mould. The term 'couching' (French 'couche' - laying) is used for this operation and the craftsman is the 'coucherman'
Having built up a pile of wet sheets, sandwiched between absorbent woollen felts, the 'post' (German 'posten') is moved to a press (similar to a wine press) where the paper is subjected to considerable compression. This squeezes out the water and consolidates the paper, making it possible to be handled.
papermaking vat and press
The wet sheets of paper (still approx 50% water) are then parted from the felts (which are re-used) and taken to a drying loft. Here they are hung over ropes or placed flat on open weave sheets. The loft has movable shutters built into the walls so that wind and air currents can evaporate moisture in the paper until it's dry and contains only about 6-7% moisture.
The dry sheets of paper are then removed to a checking area (the salle, French - room) where women sorted and checked the paper. Sub-standard sheets have been removed and the remainder were counted into reams (normally 480 sheets) which were then packed/wrapped ready for despatch to the customer.
As can be seen from the description of the papermaking process, a basic team of 3 craftsmen were required. (Beaterman, Vatman, Coucherman). These could double up as press men, loft men and sizermen. In larger mills women rag sorters and salle staff would be employed. At Clatterford the latter would probably be female members of the craftsmen's families. Profits of a one vat mill (which Clatterford probably was) would be small. It was quite normal in mills of this type for paper mill employees to also work as labourers on local farms, orchards, or their own smallholdings.
Links to papermaking history sites