In early 1700, a ten year old Henri de Portal, a Huguenot emigre from a noble family Poitier (France) arrived in Southampton. In 1718, his young but expanding paper manufacturing business needed new premises. Henry leased Laverstoke Mill in Whitchurch (Hampshire, UK) for an annual rent of £5 plus a ream of foolscap paper!
In 1724, fortune smiled on Henry, who is said to have had a good friend in the son of the Governor, when his company received the exclusive contract from the Bank Of England for the supply of banknote paper.
After a long and illustrious history, in 1963 paper-making at Laverstoke Mill ceased. In 2010 Laverstoke Mill was purchased by Bombay Spirits Company who, in 2014, after extensive restoration opened their stills to create Bombay Sapphire gin and other related products in their new home. I suspect many enjoy their Bombay Sapphire with Schweppes Indian Tonic Water – please see our easier post Schweppes Indian Tonic Water
The restoration project produced a wonderful re-imagintion of this historic building, but the element that, for me, seals its place in a roll-call of future design classics is the work commissioned to enhance Laverstoke Mill’s visitor’s centre.
Seamlessly blending the indoor and outdoor in a fluid expanse of curves of steel and glass, the visitor centre includes a new construction by Thomas Heatherwick that comprises two iconic glasshouses used for the cultivation of plants that provide the botanicals as used in the production of Bombay Sapphire gin.
Readers will know that I am a very keen follower of the Heatherwick Studio’s amazing work that include the 2102 Olympic Cauldron and New Routemaster Bus – for London Transport – please see our previous post on Thomas’ stunning work – Thomas Heatherwick