The author's first contact with papermaking and its technology was while working in W. & R. Balston's Springfield Mill Laboratories (Maidstone) in 1933 before reading Natural Sciences at Cambridge (B.A.Hons. 1936). The Company manufactured the celebrated Whatman Drawing and Filter Papers a proportion of which was still made by hand using heterogeneous raw materials such as rags. Their laboratories had been active from the end of the 19th century, accumulating a wealth of technical expertise.
After Cambridge, the author returned to the Mill to resume his work in advanced paper technology, and apart from active Service overseas in World War II, he remained with the Company until 1974; co-author of "A Guide to Filter Paper and Cellulose Powder Chromatography" (1952); Technical Director responsible for the Company's Research and Development for some 20 years during which period glass micro-fibre paper, ion-exchange cellulose products, ultra high efficiency filters and papers for chromatographic analysis were developed.
Later, he studied papers used by British Artists (1750-1850), which eventually led him in 1976 to investigate the origin of wove paper. It soon became clear that not enough was known about the Elder James Whatman to pursue this subject intelligently. Thus the years 1980-1991 were spent researching Whatman's career in papermaking and his promotion of the New Technology with its revolutionary effect on the British Paper Industry. After publishing this work (see Vols.I & II of the trilogy) he returned to his study of wove paper.
John Balston died on October 18th, 2000. He was aged eighty-five.