The paper making heritage on the site of the James Cropper mill stretches back to 1753, when production began on the site of a former woollen cloth treatment mill. History records a corn mill standing on the site as long ago as the 13th century. The change from grain to textiles to paper reflected the changing nature of industry in Cumbria, as printers in Kendal began to require more and more paper to satisfy public demand for books. It was in 1977 that James Cropper, established in 1845, concentrated paper production at the more substantial Burneside Mill, having operated on two production sites prior to that date.
Combinations of slate and traditional wood finishes distinguish the oldest parts of the paper mill from the new, with a small single lane bridge connecting the front of the paper mill with the road that approaches it. A lane of workers cottages leads away from the entrance along the banks of the river, offering a glimpse of the rich heritage of the company and the significant effects on the social history of the region that industrialists, such as the first James Cropper, had created.
Current Chairman, and great great great Grandson of the company’s founder and namesake, Mark Cropper serves as a proud custodian of the family and business history, working from the paper mill and continuing to invest in its fabric as his forefathers have done before him. The last century has seen the introduction of electricity to replace steam and the introduction of natural gas to fire the machinery into action. In the 1980s almost £17million was spent replacing or rebuilding the paper making machinery and, more recently, the installation of heat recovery facilities and updated and expanded warehousing has helped to make the company more sustainable and efficient.
Burneside is a small village that grew up around the paper making industry and the waters of the River Kent that has served the industry so well. Only a short distance from Kendal, the largest town in the Lake District, transport links to and from the mill to the wider North West and United Kingdom are well established. A train connects Burneside with Manchester and Oxenholme Lake District stations, with onward connections to Manchester Airport, Edinburgh, London and the rest of the UK, frequently throughout the day.
Visitors to the mill are by appointment only and as a busy industrial setting, James Cropper regrets that it is not always able to facilitate school or tourist trips. However, all requests are warmly invited by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of the team will be in touch.