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The Legacy Press


Books about the Printing, Paper, and Bookbinding Arts



Cyril Finn demonstrating sheet formation at Wookey Hole Paper Mill in Somerset (1990). (Courtesy Peter Thomas)

Sam and Kitty Cox (1977). (Courtesy Steve Cox)

Ron Eden holding a photograph of the Tuckenhay Mill vat room, ca. 1909 (1990). (Courtesy Peter Thomas)

They Made the Paper at Tuckenhay Mill

Interviews with Retired Hand Papermakers



Peter and Donna Thomas


A self-taught hand papermaker, Peter Thomas became interested in knowing how apprentice-trained hand papermakers working in production hand papermills made paper. He especially wanted to learn the “vatman’s shake,” the series of motions that papermakers used to form their sheets of paper. This desire circuitously led him and Donna to Tuckenhay, near Totnes, Devon, in England, where beginning in 1988, they recorded several hand papermakers, returning to make others in 1990 and 1994.

The book begins with a short history of Tuckenhay Mill and the story about meeting the papermakers and recording their interviews. This is followed by eight interviews of men and women, some of whom worked in the Mill from between the World Wars until it closed in 1970. All of the papermakers are now deceased, but the stories – in their own words – remain an extraordinary, entertaining, and timeless record of their lives and work.

Tuckenhay is located in Devon, England. It is south of Totnes, above the River Dart, on the south bank of the River Harbourne and astride the tiny River Wash. In the 1830s, Richard Turner started manufacturing paper by hand in the Tuckenhay Mill, and paper was continuously made by hand there until 1962. From then until 1970, the Mill produced pulp (half-stuff) until the business went bankrupt. The equipment was scrapped and the building was sold and converted into vacation cottages, remaining so today.

This is the 2nd edition, and the 1st was included with the limited edition collection of Tuckenhay Mill papers published by the Thomases. This new edition includes additional images of the interiors of the Tuckenhay Mill, taken in about 1900, courtesy of Peter Bower from his photographic collection of English papermills.


120 pages   •   38 images   •   softcover   •   ISBN 9781940965048   •   $20.00

2nd edition, 2017


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