Ford Mill has existed for over 350 years. The name came from the ford in the river, near the mill. It was bridged over in 1836. Paper production can be traced back to 1776.
Mr George Langley ran the mill from the early 1840s until 1876. He also held the offices of Churchwarden, Waywarden, Overseer and Surveyor and established a Benefit Society in the Parish. His family home was “Langley House”.
In 1876, Mr Joseph Batchelor rented the mill from the Dering estate to manufacture handmade paper. The Mill House was built in the late 1890s as the Batchelor’s family home,
The Terrace was built in 1896 by the Dering and Batchelor families, to house mill workers.
Power to operate the machinery was originally generated by a water wheel; electric power did not come to the village until the late 1920s when the water turbine became redundant.
The business prospered until 1940, when recession and the war reduced demand for handmade paper. The mill turned to production of beer mats to supplement its income.
In 1941 the Daily Express Newspaper Company contacted Ford Mill, looking for somewhere to make flong (a papier-mâché mould used in sterotype printing process) for their newspapers. In 1943 production switched to the manufacture of flong.
In 1945 the Daily Express bought the mill and Mr Batchelor (grandson of Mr Joseph Batchelor) became Mill Manager.
Water for both the Mill and Mill House was supplied from underground springs. It was not until 1949 that mains water became available.
Production of flong increased from the 1950s and with the exception of The Telegraph, the National Newspapers in Fleet Street were almost entirely supplied by Batchelor flong. In addition the mill exported over 40% of production.
The demise of flong production came in 1986 when new printing methods were introduced. Flong production became uneconomical and in 1987 the mill was purchased by Mr. John Fowler. The mill then switched to salvaging paper from damaged reels and reselling them.