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Countrystride #121: A HISTORY OF PAPER-MAKING on the RIVER KENT

...in which we take a Dales Way wander downstream from Cowan Head to Burneside to explore the long history of paper-making on the River Kent. In the company of paper manufacturer and fell-runner Mark Cropper, Chair of the six-generation family business James Cropper plc, we rewind the centuries to when 50 or more mills spanned the Kent, processing everything from wool to snuff. Entering the packhorse age, we learn about the growth of the provincial book trade and the growing demand for a new kind of 'clean' paper. Leaving the valley floor, we visit the cow byre-housed Paper Foundation to immerse ourselves in the centuries-old craft of paper making. Arriving at the heart of the family business in Burneside, we explore the cutting-edge mills that today make the paper not only for Armistice Day poppies and packaging for many of the world’s leading luxury brands, but also next-generation 'papers' destined for aircraft, supercars and wind turbines. Finally, looking across the pastures above Kendal, we reflect on Mark's ambition to rethink the landscapes of east Lakeland, and the emerging Penrith–Kendal wildlife corridor that will feature a heritage 'patchwork' of wood pasture, wildflower meadows and orchards, alongside traditional farming and food crops.ood pasture, wildflower meadows and orchards, alongside traditional farming and food crops.






Ellergreen, overlooking Burneside and Kendal.

Our guest for the day: Mark Cropper.

Mark at Cowan Head - former mill site.

Tom making paper by hand.

First stage in the pulping process: the 180-year-old Hollander Beater.

Down to the main mill site of James Cropper plc.

The modern face of paper making.

Mark and forebear James Cropper.

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