Frogmore Paper Mill: Historic mill needs £100,000 to reopen after devastating fire

Frogmore Paper Mill is campaigning to reopen its visitor and education centre after a devastating fire in January.

By Olivia Preston
Friday, 1st April 2022, 3:48 pm

The purpose-built visitor centre in Apsley, which opened in 2008, is now a blackened shell soon due to be demolished.

Home to the world’s first mechanised paper mill, the site was the birthplace of paper as we know it today.

But 700 square metres of the world heritage site was burnt down on January 22, including classrooms, offices, an art gallery, cafe and much of the museum collection.

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Burnt gallery at the Frogmore Paper Mill.

The mill, which employed around 10,000 people from the local area from the 17th century, has so far raised £20,000 of its £100,000 goal and is now appealing to the community to help rebuild the site.

CEO of Frogmore Paper Mill, Elena Lewendon, said the money would go towards creating a new visitor centre and community space with the possibility of a pop-up cafe or shop.

She said: “We're really really pleased with ourselves but we need more help. We really do need this sort of support to get us open again, hopefully before the end of this year.”

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Inside the visitor centre before the blaze.

With sustainability being at the heart of the mill, opening its doors and educating people on the importance of recycling again is very important.

Elena said: “Every single learning session we do has a sustainability element because what we teach people is that paper can be recycled seven times. Don't chuck it in the bin. If anything, bring it here.”

The long term goal is to completely rebuild what was lost in the fire.

For Elena, having volunteered at the mill since the age of 15, it would mean so much to restore the once thriving visitor centre.

Picture of the burnt cafe in January.

She said: “Watching 700 square metres of your life's work quite literally gone up in smoke was so devastating that for us to be able to create something new out of the ashes being reborn would be healing for us.”

Elena added: “I just can't even put into words how much it would mean to us to rebuild it, it would be extraordinary. We can't let this close. We can't let this happen.”