This poem, entitled MEMORANDUM, was written by a worker to commemorate the party given to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. This was held for the employees of the paper mill at Taverham and the pulp mill at Bawburgh, two villages a few miles to the west of Norwich. You will notice that at the end of the verse the anonymous author spells employe(e) without the final letter “e” In order to preserve the rhyme with ‘joy’ the final word employe was obviously pronounced ’employ’. This is unfortunate as the verse ends with a verb although the noun is obviously intended.
Both these mills were run by John Henry Fraser Walter, the cousin of the owner of the Times newspaper and great-grandson of its founder. As you will see in the poem below, much of the paper produced was used in printing the Times.
These notes should explain a few references in the text.
The workers at the two mills were taken by horse-drawn vans to the house of their employer, Mr Walter, at Catton. This was about 7 miles from the further mill at Bawburgh. Were their wives invited? A large number of the workers at Bawburgh were women and they were surely included, but I see no evidence that members of the workers’ families came too. The ladies referred to in the poem appear to be from Catton or nearby and to be waiting on the guests.
Samuel Gurney Buxton, referred to in the verse as allowing the revellers to stroll through his park, lived at Catton Hall. He was related to Elizabeth Fry (née Gurney) and was the grandson of Sir Fowell Buxton, the founding chairman of the RSPCA. As you will rapidly realise, John Henry Walter lived in a fine house in Catton, but it was by no means the finest in the village. His house was called Seven Oaks, but this is no longer there.
Of the two gentlemen mentioned by Mr Walter Edward Furness was the head clerk at the pulp mill at Bawburgh, and John Avery was the foreman in charge at the paper mill at Taverham. Mr Avery had come to Taverham to work at the mill, having been born in Buckingshire where he had no doubt learnt the trade in one of several paper mills in that county.
Who was Mrs Holden? She had obviously just got married and the celebrants of the Queen’s Jubilee had this additional reason for rejoicing. The festivities obviously went on for some time that summer. The date of the official celebrations was June 20/21 and this party was held over a month later. I expect Mr Walter also laid on some special entertainment for his workers for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897; by then he was living in Drayton in the house he had newly built. On the occasion of his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary he had another party for his employees and this was held at his house, Drayton Hall. In Mr Walter’s time it was called Drayton House and Drayton Hall was a Georgian building where Carter’s and Barclay’s Bank now stands.
Now read on.
[With many thanks to the Taverham Historical Society for making the cutting of this verse available.]
Can anybody tell where the account of Taverham mill having produced the paper for banknotes originated? I have read contemporary references to the Cambridge University Press using Taverham paper from the 1820s, and of course it was used for printing the Times from 1845 to 1899. I have at least a dozen copies of the Times printed on this paper – I know because it is watermarked with the words ‘Taverham Mills’ and the date.
Anybody who has read the above poem will agree that the Norfolk Chronicle and the Eton Express were also printed on Taverham paper and likewise a Cambridge University Press edition of the Bible. However I have only read of Taverham mill producing banknote paper in recent publications (written long after the mill closed).
I am very doubtful that Taverham mill ever produced paper for banknotes. This is a highly specialised job, and during the 18th and 19th centuries this was done in Hampshire in two mills along the river Test by Portal’s the paper making firm. But I am willing to be convinced if anyone can find a contemporary reference.
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