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Friday, November 01, 2019

Fantastic Frogmore Mill

October was my research month. I dedicated the whole month to researching my fifth novel which will be called The Paper Mill Girl. It's set around a Sunderland paper mill, positioning it at the edge of the village of Ryhope where my books are set in 1919.

Having done all the research I could possibly do in the northeast at archives, museums and libraries, I knew that I'd love to see inside a paper mill, working if possible, to get a feel for what it was like. Of course, in 1919 the era I'm writing about, I thought it highly unlikely I'd find an authentic paper making machine or get to know how the mills were run and especially about the role of women back then. 

Oh, how wrong I was. 

I've just returned from a two day visit to Frogmore Mill in Apsley and I can't recommend the place enough. It welcomes visitors to its museum, art gallery ... and even a brewery! It offers guided tours and - be still my beating paper mill girl heart - there's even a 1902 paper making machine that's still in use and you get to see it working! Frogmore was the world's first mechanised paper mill, it's where paper making as we know it began.  

I can't thank the staff and volunteers enough for making me feel so welcome and for answering my questions. Special thanks go to archivist Michael Stanyon who helped me navigate the details of the life of a woman working in a paper mill in 1919. It's details like these that will add such rich flavour to my novel.

Of course, not all of my month long research will go into my novel. The reader doesn't need, or want, to know how Fourdrinier machines work, or what a Hollander machine does. But I do. I needed to know all of these things. Then, when I sit down to plot and plan the novel next week (and start writing the week after), I'll have a wealth of knowledge on which to place my heroine Ruth and her family and all the drama that will unfold around them. 

At Frogmore, I even got to make my very own piece of paper. I'm going to keep it safe for the coming month and when The Paper Mill Girl is released in 2020, I've asked my illustrator friend Pickled Jo to paint the book cover onto it. 

If you're ever in Apsley, I highly recommend a visit to Frogmore Mill. It's simply fantastic. 
Their website is here.

Glenda Young
Twitter: @Flaming_Nora
Facebook: GlendaYoungAuthor


Anonymous said...

I have connections in Sunderland and visit frequently. I am aware of the paper mill at Ryhope. More importantly I was connected to Frogmore Paper Mill for many years and had a studio in the dye store next to the duster room where many women worked. I am looking forward to reading your next novel connecting these two sites through women’s work.

Caroline said...

So glad you enjoyed Frogmore, it really is an hidden gem. My Son Alex works there, you may have met him. It's am amazing site, sadly some areas in desperate need of funding, but I imagine it really helped you to set the scene for your book. Make sure you let Frogmore know when it's published as I'd like a copy!

Glenda Young said...

Caroline, yes I will definitely let Frogmore know when it's published. It's due out in hardback, ebook and audiobook in November 2020. I'll be sending them a copy. It really is a beautiful place.

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