Paper Making along Milton Creek

A paper mill was first established in Sittingbourne in 1708 with first records of a paper mill at the current site dating back to 1769, the period in which modern wove paper had been innovated.

  • 1863 – London papermaker and news printer Edward Lloyd purchases Sittingbourne Mill, which burns down in the August
  • 1866 – Building starts on new, bigger mill closer to the Railway
  • 1876 – Lloyd purchases Daily Chronicle Newspaper and installs new paper making machine, largest at the time, which is capable of producing 1,300 sq ft of paper per minute. Management of Sittingbourne Mill handed to another Son, Frederick Lloyd
  • 1882 – Full paper making process transferred from London to Sittingbourne
  • 1883 – Fire destroys 300 to 400 paper reels. Fire is constant threat
  • 1884 – Enlarged new boiler house with 110 foot chimney built at mill
  • 1888 – Further improvements made with addition of powerful horizontal engine, two steam-driven travelling cranes and a new paper-making machine
  • 1889 – Edward Lloyd introduces a horse-drawn tramway to carry materials from Milton Creek to the mill
  • 1890 – Edward Lloyd dies, eldest son Frank takes over the business
  • 1892 – New mill in Sittingbourne complex opens. Queen Anne style Architecture
  • 1902 – 11 paper-making machines on Sittingbourne site
  • 1904 – 1906 the tramway was replaced by a steam railway on what is now known as the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway. As the Mill expands and silt begins to build up on the banks of Milton Creek, it becomes necessary to extend the railway to Ridham Dock, so that raw materials could be brought in by barges and ships
  • 1910 – United Newspapers formed to buy Lloyd’s newspapers, keeping it separate from paper-making side (Edward Lloyd Ltd). The Sittingbourne Mill becomes the largest in the world
  • 1914 – Sales of the Daily Chronicle exceeds the combined sales of The Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard, making the mill the world’s largest, with its 1,200 employees using 17 machines to make over 2000 tons of paper per week
  • 1920s – Shortage of wood pulp and increased demand for paper leads to increase in price of paper and need for expansion
  • 1924 – Frank Lloyd builds a new factory north of Milton at Kemsley, along with a new village to house employees
  • 1923 – A Grinder house connected to dock by steel ropeway. It is the first system in the world to grind imported timber. The paper store can hold 2000 tons of paper shipped from Ridham Dock to London and abroad
  • 1927 – Frank Lloyd dies. The business is sold to Sir William Berry of Allied Newspapers
  • 1933 – Largest mill plant in the world
  • 1937 – Business is sold to Bowaters to form the Bowater-Lloyd Group. It is employs over 3000 workers and producing 6500 tons of paper per week
  • 1939-45 –War restrictions on quantity of newsprint in place, only Kemsley Mill continues to produce it. Sittingbourne Mill concentrates on making Kraft corrugated card. This is corrugated paper sandwiched between two smooth pieces, ideal for making boxes for ammunition and shells. Women took over men’s jobs
  • 1955 – Bowaters is largest employer in the town with nearly 5000 employees, of which 10% were women. Average wage is £12 per week
  • 1960s – There is a drop in demand for newsprint and Sittingbourne Mill specialises in producing coated papers
  • 1973 – Introduction of computerised system leads to job losses
  • 1986 – UK Paper completes a management buy-out and the site was split in two with part of the operation sold to St Regis
  • 1998 – Sold to Finnish paper maker M-Real
  • 2007 – M-Real decides to close the mill paving the way for its redevelopment

Photo Gallery – Paper

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