Home Park Paper Mill
Paper making was a big industry in the valley of the River Gade, with mills at Apsley, Nash, Home Park and Croxley. These were all owned by John Dickinson who, in the early 19th century, created machines for making paper and started an industry which was destined to employ thousands of local people for many generations.
Home Park Mill, Kings Langley, was John Dickinson’s third paper factory, built in 1825 in response to the demand that he had created for with his revolutionary ‘Endless Web’ machine. It was possibly the first such mill constructed from scratch rather than by conversion of former flour, fulling or hand-made-paper mills. Situated close to the Grand Junction Canal and, at a later date, to the London to Birmingham main line railway (now the West Coast Main Line), the mill was well provided with power and transport.
For the first 60 years it played its part in the company’s manufacture of paper and card, and then re-organisation under new management in 1888 turned it into a specialised coating and finishing factory for paper that had been made at the nearby Apsley and Nash mills.
In the 1930s the mill expanded to include the production of gummed paper and paper-tape. After the Second World War self-adhesive tapes were introduced under the brand name ‘Holdfast’, and production expanded with the building of a grand new factory in 1959. In 1966 Dickinsons merged with Robinson Group, whose similar ‘Sellotape’ brand was the market leader in adhesive tapes. As with so many mergers, production was ‘rationalised’ and in 1980 Home Park Mill was closed with the loss of 300 jobs.
For more than 150 years the mill had played its full part in the John Dickinson Empire. It had provided jobs for hundreds of local people, who appreciated the company’s encouraging approach to its workers, with the provision of housing and pensions and good social and sports facilities. Today no evidence of the historic mill remains, the site having been redeveloped with offices, light engineering and a busy road across the valley. The name of this road is the only clue, the only link with the past: - Home Park Mill Link Road.
Read an account of the history of the mill in the new booklet Home Park Paper Mill at Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, published by Apsley Paper Trail and available from Kings Langley Local History & Museum Society outlets.
Reproduced by kind permission of Alan Penwarden
You might also like to see the Apsley Paper Trail History pages, Dacorum Heritage Trust and information about the Dickinson family, especially Sir John Evans, at the Ashmolean Museum website. Also see Hertfordshire Genealogy for more helpful information.