Bow Bridge

With the increasing paper shortage in the 1850s, Lloyd’s propensity for innovation met the challenge. He decided to make his own paper. The move was carefully thought out and well timed in typical Lloyd fashion. He acquired the lease of a 6-acre plot at Bromley-by-Bow between the River Lea, Hancock Road and Priory Street in 1859 and extended it in 1874. Lloyd put a Hoe press there, along with the type foundry.1

Map of Lloyd’s Paper Mills at Bow
A plan of the installation at Bow, The Engineer, 1867. The building to the left of the plan housed the printing operation and the larger part was taken by paper-making. The shaded line represents the River Lea.

A description of work at the site in 1875 is given in Chapter 12 of East London Industries, by William Glenny Crory2, a journalist on the East London Observer. Lloyd was making enough paper to supply other papers in London and the provinces. After Lloyd’s expansion at Sittingbourne, the mill was supplying the world and in particular the press in the British colonies. Crory wrote:

“I was most courteously received by Mr Frank Lloyd who showed me over the premises. […] There are about 200 hands employed. I am also happy to find these employees of a very good type; in fact, the whole place is orderly, the people at work are attentive, and the mill is most ably conducted by a manager, whose venerable appearance and general bearing offer an assurance that all goes well.”

Further, “Mr Lloyd has ever been a man of progress, as every apparatus in use in the mill shows. […] The machinery at work at this mill is remarkably well kept, and the best of its kind. …]Even [the] storing and filtering appliances prove that no cost is spared and no pains considered too much in doing everything attempted in the best possible way.”

A machine that caught Crory’s eye was a mechanical stoker, made by Dillwyn Smith, for the boiler. It saved coal, lessened labour and economised on heat as no cold air got in while the boiler was being fed. It must also have been a lot cleaner.

Lloyd’s last operations at Bow were moved to Sittingbourne in 1877. According to Henry Massingham, editor of the Daily Chronicle in the 1890s, the river Lea became too polluted for paper-making. This may have added urgency — a machine destined for Sittingbourne was made and delivered ready to run within five months of the order being placed.

On 21 June 1892 the site was subleased to David and Alexander Hutchison, iron founders. The leases still belonged to the Lloyd family trust in 1942.

References