The Killin family

One of the most remarkable families ever associated with the mill was the Killin family.  At one time father and four sons worked there.

“Old Tom” Killin – as the father was known – started at Sittingbourne in 1894.  His sons all began there as reeler boys.  In an article in Bowater World in April 1961, Tom, then seventy six, said proudly, “the Killin family has always been in paper making.  My grandfather and his father before him were paper makers in Scotland.

“I started at Sittingbourne when I was just thirteen,” he continued.  “I earned nine shillings a week for a seventy eight hour week.  We got no holidays but, after we had been there for a year, were given a free railway ticket for a day at Margate.”

“I would start work at six o’clock on Friday evening and work round to six o’clock in the morning.  Then I just had time to dash home for a quick wash and catch the 7.30 train to Margate.”

One of his most vivid memories is of the day in 1900 when the mill was almost destroyed by fire.  Tom was working there when the fire broke out.

“I remember clearly standing there by the machine, open mouthed, watching the flames catch the paper,” he said, “It was a terrible blaze.”

During the fire-fighting, an important priority, apparently, was the supply of beer for the thirsty firemen.  A nearby pub was opened and ten gallon casks of beer were quickly ordered.

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