Stubbins, Eddie (b.1927)

Eddie Stubbins was born and brought up in Wookey. He left school in 1941, at the age of fourteen, and apart from two or three years in the Royal Navy, he spent his whole working life as a paper-maker.  He worked his way up, starting as an assistant in the cutting department, then through the various stages of paper making, to the different end products and marketing of them.


He describes the processes from the initial raw materials to the finished product, both in the mechanised methods used at St Cuthbert’s Mill Wells, and also as in the making of hand-made paper at Wookey Hole Mill.

Paper making at the Wookey Hole paper mill. Paper making at the Wookey Hole paper mill.
Sound File
Listen to Eddie Stubbins - 1.81MB Duration 3:21 min.

AH: Can you tell me whether you were still making the traditional paper for offices and things?

ES: Yes, um, actually at Cuthbert’s we had two main  production lines, number one machine and number two machine. Number one machine was a larger machine um, installed in the mid-1950s. Um, number two machine was a smaller machine and that was installed, I would say, in the early 1900s and there’s a lovely machine and number two machine, all the time they stayed making basic papers; writing paper, cheque papers, security papers and on number one machine, say out of a cycle of four weeks, we were two, two weeks normal paper and two weeks, industrial papers.


When I was talking about security papers, we made a lot of cheque paper for different banks and there was security features built into that. If you tried to forge a cheque or alter the writing on it, you’d use bleach and the whole thing would go black and discoloured, so you couldn’t, that was out. And then we made travellers’ cheques, big companies’ travellers’ cheques, one of the biggest ones in the world and we used to add these chemicals, that would change colour if they were messed around with and also invisible and visible nylon fibres, coloured nylon fibres. The invisible ones would only show up under ultra-violet lamp and that was big business.


We made, some, bank note paper, not for this country. We made bank-note paper for Egypt, Thailand and maybe more and, that was mostly made with rag. That was a rag content paper for strength, the bank note paper. It used to involve tests. We had folding machines. You put a strip of paper in and you would fold it every [corner] how many times it folded before it broke and it had to reach a certain figure before it was acceptable, so course it was quite strong.


We made paper for maps, so that was used outside in all winds and weathers, so it had to be strong in the [], so that was wet strength, had a chemical added to hold its strength when it was wet. And, we made lots of the well-known writing papers, the big one. Basildon, Basildon Bond, we made that.


And then gradually the number one machine, industrial papers took over, you know, went from two weeks out of four to three weeks and now, I believe, or I know, it’s, now it’s full time on, on industrial papers.


AH: What do you call industrial papers?


ES: Laminates for furniture and all things like that, you know; wall coverings, where they imitate wood panels and that is big business. That is all over the world now. They export all over the world, yeah.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Ann Heeley in August 2004. Photograph ©SRLM. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.