The beginning of the Abelheira paper mill and paper making in the Lapa watermills

1755–1834

It was because of the 1755 earthquake that Quinta da Abelheira and paper making became intertwined. Seeking shelter from the city in ruins and their monastery’s, the Augustinian monks came to Tojal. The Trancão river flowing nearby was home to several watermills that powered preindustrial workshops among them paper making. Initially, as in the rest of Europe, paper was made from linen fibres (rag paper). At first only brown paper was made, but later writing paper was added.

However, in the wake of Napoleon’s decree, in 1806, that closed Portuguese ports to the British navy and confiscated the property of British residents living in Portugal, the Abelheira mill, like almost all workshops of the time, ceased its activity. The mill only reopened in 1833.