John Dickinson (inventor)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Dickinson, paper machine inventor

John Dickinson (born March 29, 1782 - † January 11, 1869 ) was the inventor of a cylinder mold paper machine that enabled continuous mechanical paper production. He also founded the paper mills in Apsley and Nash Mills in England , which later became John Dickinson & Co. Limited .


John Dickinson was the eldest son of Captain Thomas Dickinson, who was in the Royal Navy, and his wife Frances. Thomas Dickinson was Head of Ordnance Transport in Woolwich . Frances Dickinson was the daughter of a French silk weaver in Spitalfields .

At the age of 15, John Dickinson began a seven-year training course as a stationer with Messrs. Harrison and Richardson in London . He got his license in 1804 and started working in a stationery in London.

He had already proven his inventiveness when he invented a new paper for gun cartridges. It didn't scorch after the cannon was fired. This had previously often been the cause of unintentional artillery explosions . His invention was accepted by the army and is 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 that could continuously produce paper in order to replace the previous handicraft techniques, especially the Fourdrinier machine of the French Henry Fourdrinier and his brother Sealy.

Dickinson patented his own design in 1809 . In the same year he found financial support from the British parliamentarian George Longman (1776-1822). Dickinson was able to buy a former grain mill in Apsley, Hertfordshire , which had already been converted into a paper mill by the previous owner, a man named John Stafford. The seller was one of Dickinson's suppliers. Dickinson built his own machine into the mill.

After these beginnings, his company one of the largest stationery manufacturer in the world that developed John Dickinson & Co. Ltd .

He built a new house for himself east of Nash Mills in 1836, being his own architect. Called Abbots Hill by him , it was on a hill from which he could see his mills in the valley.

The Dickinson papermaking process

The machine consists of a perforated metal cylinder with a close-fitting sieve made of fine wire mesh , which rotates in a vat with wood pulp. The water from the vat is drained through the axis of the cylinder and the fibers of the wood pulp adhere to the surface of the screen. An endless web of felt passes the couch roll , which is on the cylinder, and pulls off the layer of fibrous material, which after drying turns into paper.


  • Harry Dagnall: "John Dickinson and his Silk Thread Paper", Leicester 1975, ISBN 978-0950440606 ;
  • Joan Evans ( great-niece of John Dickinson): "The Endless Web - John Dickinson & Co. Ltd 1804-1954", Jonathan Cape, London 1955.

Web links