Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
John Dickinson (inventor)
He founded the paper mills at Apsley & Nash Mills, in the United Kingdom, which evolved into John Dickenson plc . He built and lived at Abbots Wood, Nash Mills, on a hillside site looking down upon his mills in the valley bottom.
He was the eldest son of Captain Thomas Dickinson RN and his wife Frances. Thomas Dickinson was the superintendent of the Ordnance Transports at Woolwich. Frances Dickenson was the daughter of a French silk-weaver in Spitalfields.
At the age of 15 he started a seven-year apprenticeship as a stationer with Messrs Harrison and Richardson in London. He was admitted to the Livery of the Stationers' Company in 1804 and began to trade, in stationery the City of London.
He had already demonstrated his inventive nature by inventing a new kind of paper for cannon cartridges. These did not smoulder after the cannon had fired. This had been the cause of constant accidental explosions in the artillery. His invention was taken up by the army and was said to have been of great value in the battles against Napoleon.
In an age of technical innovation attempts had already been made to build a machine capable of the continuous manufacture of paper to replace the handmade techniques then used. Notably by Frenchman Henry Fourdriner .
Dickinson patented his own design in 1809. In that same year he found financial backing from financier George Longman . He was then able to purchase a former flour mill at Apsley, Hertfordshire which had already been converted to paper manufacture by the previous owner. The seller, a man called John Stafford, had been one of Dickinson's suppliers. Dickinson installed his own design of machinery at the mill.
The Dickinson paper making process
The process consisted of a perforated cylinder of metal, with a closely fitting cover of finely woven wire, which revolved in a vat of wood pulp. The water from the vat was carried off through the axis of the cylinder, leaving the fibres of the wood pulp clinging to the surface of the wire. An endless web of felt passed through what was known as a 'couching roller' lying upon the cylinder drew off the layer of pulp which when dried became paper.
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