Paper History Channel - Exclusive Report
Old paper machine photos found!
Perhaps the best way to tell this story is just the way it happened. This story starts when I received the following e-mail from Řyvind Haugen of Vikersund, Norway, October 29, 1999.
Tonight I visited a friend, to look at some old photos. I just returned home and have some exciting news. What I found were a number of photos that show what is generally accepted to be the remains of a paper machine built in 1838 by Bryan Donkin of London, England. This machine is reported to have been delivered to Bentse Brug in Christiania (today Oslo) and was the first paper machine in Norway. When the Bentse Brug mill was shut down in 1898, the owners, who also owned Embretsfos Fabriker at Ĺmot, a village only a few kilometers from Geithus, had the machine moved to Embretsfos. At Embretsfos the old machine was rebuilt as a pulp-drying machine. It was shut down and scraped in 1955.
After I have the opportunity to examine the photos closely and do some investigating on my own, I will get back to you.
All the best,
Another e-mail followed:
After studying the reverse side of the photos I discovered that the photos were documented as being taken April, 30, 1955 by Harry Skjelbred who was employed by the Union Company. Harry knew of the machine so I contacted him to get some background of the Donkin 1838 paper machine. (Click on the image to double it's size).
Harry confirmed that he took the photos on April 30th, 1955, perhaps the last day of operation. Embretsfos Fabriker was shut down in 1971 and during the summer of 1998 all buildings were torn down. In some miraculous way the photos survived. Embretsfos, which was a part of the Union Co. is gone and so are the people in charge. A/S Union ( Union Co.) was dissolved as a company this last summer when it became a part of Norske Skog. What do you think about it???
All the best,
Before I had an opportunity to think about it, another e-mail arrived.
Tomorrow I'll drop the photos of the old paper machine in the mail. They should be in your mailbox in a few days. Putting together what I learned from Harry Skjelbred with what I have been able to dig up elsewhere, forms the following ramblings.
"Bentse Brug was the first paper mill in Norway - founded in Christiania (now Oslo) in the year 1698. The first paper-machine was installed in 1838. This was also the first paper-machine in Norway. It was built in London, England by Bryan Donkin. Think I have heard that it was some 70" wide and had 3 dryers. In the 1890's the mill, then owned by the brothers Harvig and Carl Bache-Wiig, had it's name changed to Akerselvens Papirfabriker and was merged with a pulp mill - Embretsfos Fabriker - also owned by the Bache-Wiig brothers. The name of the new company was Akerselven-Embretsfos. When Akerselvens Papirfabriker was shut down in 1898, machinery was taken down and sold except for the old paper-machine. Probably because it was worthless and no one would buy it. The brothers had the machine moved to Embretsfos where it was put to use as a pulp drying machine. In 1902 the brothers sold out. The following year Carl Bache-Wiig went to America where he was hired as a technical consultant by the International Paper Company.
Embretsfos expanded into the paper making business in 1905 when two machines from H. Füllner were installed. In 1911 Embretsfos was taken over by A/S Union (Union Co.). In 1929 the number 2 machine was shut down and a new number 2 was built by Pusey & Jones. (Incidentally, I also have two photos of the old P & J machine).
The photos of the "Donkin" paper machine were taken by Harry Skjelbred on April 30, 1955. The machine had been shut down for some time and was about to be removed and scraped. During his early days at Embretsfos, Harry learned from one of the old workers that the pulp drying machine was the remains of the first paper-machine in Norway. The old timer that told Harry this, had been told the same story during his early days by an old-timer of that period. In other words, the old timer who told the old timer probably was there when the machine was installed. Consequently, it is well over 99.5 percent certain that what the photos show really are the remains of the 1938 Bryan Donkin paper machine, the first paper-machine in Norway."
Luigi: Hope you can make something out of the above ramblings. Please feel free to edit.
Harry "ok-ed" using his name.
I fired off an e-mail to Řyvind as follows:
This is an astounding story!
History tells us that in 1807, Henry & Sealey Fourdrinier engaged Bryan Donkin and they built an improved machine based on the work done by Nicholas Robert, John Gamble and St. Ledger Didot that started in 1801. Some 30 years later, Bryan Donkin designs, builds and ships a paper machine from London to Norway. Now ,150 years later, Řyvind Haugen stumbles on photos taken over 45 years ago, and with the help of Harry Skjelbred establish that with almost 100% certainty, the photos are of the remnants of that same machine built by Brayn Donkin in 1838.
Now we are planning to post a historical document that tracks that machine from it's inception in 1838 to it's demise in 1955. At this point I would just like to review "your ramblings" and hold off until I see the photos. It was very nice of Harry Skjelbred to discuss this matter with you and give you permission to use his name. Harry is such an integral part of the story. I wonder (out loud) if we could impose upon his generosity once more to secure a photo of him that we could post along with any potential story.
Best to you.
The photos were received here at my home in New Port Richey, FL on November 20, 1999. There are a group of nine photos with considerable detail of the configuration of the machine in it's final days of operation. The photos probably would never have seen the light of day were it not for Řyvind Haugen or been understood for their historical value had it not been for the assistance of Harry Skjelbred.
DECISION TIME: How to treat this important story?
My personal view of history has always been that the facts speak for themselves. Any meddling of the "words and music" only alter the history. Based on that, my instinct is to go with Řyvinds "ramblings" as composed in his e-mails.
Today, November 21, 1999, I sent Řyvind Haugen the following e-mail.
I received the photos, and like you, studied them at length. After thinking this story over and re-reading your various e-mails, I don't feel I can add or improve on what you have presented in your various e-mails. The story as I prefer to post it on the paper History Channel is in the attachment to this e-mail. Please review it and give me your opinion.
I would still like to have that picture of Harry. He deserves 15 minutes of fame for taking the photos, his astuteness in having the foresight to document the information and his valuable contribution in bringing this important story forward for others to enjoy.
Best regards-hope you had a good week-end
Monday, November 22, 1999 I received the following e-mail.
The story looks fine to me. It appears to be a good way to tell this story-just the way it unfolded. Since my last communication with you, I did some follow-up. In trying to find out what became of the machinery from the old Bentse Brug mill, I discovered the following:
No. 1 machine - Bryan Donkin - 1838.
No. 2 machine - Bertrams Ltd. - 1858. Upon shut down of the mill was sold to Klevfos Fabriker, destroyed by fire in 1909.
No. 3 machine - Myrens Vćrksted - 1870. Destroyed by fire at Bentse Brug before 1900.
No. 4 machine - Bentley & Jackson - ca 1875. Upon shut down sold to A/S Union (Union Co.) Skien. In operation at Union for a few years before it was traded off to H. Füllner around 1910. A new Füllner machine took it's place.
When we see how the machines at Bentse Brug have ended their days this way: No. 2 destroyed in a fire at Klevfos in 1909. No. 3 destroyed in a fire at Bentse Brug some time around 1875 - 1880 and No. 4 at Union in Skien before it was traded off to H. Füllner around 1910, it seems pretty obvious that the only machine in question that possibly could have found it's way to Embretsfos when under the Bache-Wiig ownership is the No.1, Donkin machine of 1838. The machine was installed at Embretsfos before 1902. This reinforces the certainty that the machine in the photos is the "Donkin" 1838 paper machine and probably increases the likelihood from 99.5 to 99.99%.
Called Harry and asked him if he had a "mug-shot" of himself. Waiting to hear from him. If he turns up with a photo, I'll ship it over to you.
Luigi, with the exception of a possible photo of Harry, this should complete the Bryan Donkin story. It was sure an exiting adventure. I hope your Paper History Channel visitors enjoy the story as much as I did putting it together.
All the best,
And that is the way the story happened!
Paper history Channel
You can see the photos of the 1838 Donkin paper machine by clicking here!
You can read Řyvind Haugen's biography by clicking here.Paper Industry Web