Frogmore Paper Mill

Frogmore Paper Mill
Frogmore Mill Apsley.jpg
View from Durrants Hill Road Bridge
General information
Coordinates51°44′19″N 0°28′06″W / 51.7385°N 0.4683°W / 51.7385; -0.4683Coordinates: 51°44′19″N 0°28′06″W / 51.7385°N 0.4683°W / 51.7385; -0.4683
OwnerThe Apsley Paper Trail

Frogmore Paper Mill is a working paper mill situated in Apsley, Hertfordshire, near Hemel Hempstead. The mill is on an island in the River Gade,[1] which forms part of the Grand Union Canal.[2] It is the oldest mechanical paper mill in the world.[3][4]


There are no surviving records documenting when a mill was first built on the current site, but it is recorded as being a corn mill in 1086 in the Domesday Book.[5] In 1289, the mill was used for fulling; removing oil and other impurities from woolen cloth.[2] It returned to milling grain, then became a fulling mill once more, then finally it become a paper mill by 1774.[5] The world's first mechanised paper machine was installed at Frogmore Mill in 1803 funded by Sealy and Henry Fourdrinier and engineered by Bryan Donkin, based upon a design by Nicolas-Louis Robert. This machine allowed continuous automated production of paper rolls. Unfortunately the £60,000 costs of developing the paper machines meant that the Fourdrinier brothers were bankrupted by 1810.[5][6][7]

For most of the 19th century, the mill was owned by the Grand Junction Canal predecessor of the Grand Union Canal.[2] In 1851, the chemical production of paper from wood (now known as soda pulp), used in newspapers, began at the mill.[5] From 1853 to 1887 the mill was linked to Two Waters Mill, also near Hemel Hempstead.[5][8] In 1890, the British Paper Company was founded and took over operations at the mill; it fully purchased the premises in 1929.[2]

In 2000 the British Paper Company ceased operations and the Apsley Paper Trail was opened to the public.[9]

In 2008 a visitor centre was built with financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The visitor centre was badly damaged in a fire in January 2022.[10]


Model of the Robert continuous paper making machine at Frogmore Paper Mill

The mill is run by The Apsley Paper Trail, a charitable organisation, and operated as a visitor, education and community use centre. Eleven full-time staff are employed at the mill.[11] It has been used for various theatrical productions, including the rock musical Rent.[3][12]



  1. ^ "Paper trail to revolution – the history of Frogmore Mill". Hertfordshire Life. 28 January 2016. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Cooper 2015, p. 46.
  3. ^ a b "First look at RENT at the World's Oldest Papermill". Broadway World. 10 July 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Frogmore Paper Mill". Visit Southeast England. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Frogmore Paper Mill". The Aspley Paper Trail. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  6. ^ Hills 1988, pp. 96–97.
  7. ^ HALS 1998, pp. 2–3.
  8. ^ HALS 1998, pp. 5, 8.
  9. ^ Stanyon, Michael (2022). Following the Paper Trail: In Hertfordshire's Gade Valley. England: APT. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-909851-06-1.
  10. ^ "Apsley: Historic Frogmore Paper Mill closed after visitor centre fire". BBC. 23 January 2022. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
  11. ^ "'Future looks bleak' for historic paper mill after planning refusal". Hemel Today. 22 July 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Review of Jonathan Larson's RENT at Frogmore Paper Mill". London Theatre. 13 July 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2018.


External links