The Larkfield Society

Where memories are recalled

Dennis Foreman – born in Willow Cottage Newhythe.

Some History of Newhythe 1920-> onwards

In the 1920 the hamlet of Newhythe most of which lay between the railway crossing and the river Medway consisted of about thirty dwellings, two public houses The Bull and the Ferry there had been a third The Good Intent some years before, a General shop and a farm. Some of the houses where half timbered and the rest of brick. The hamlet was laid out in a T with the main street running from the West [the railway crossing] to the East [the river] and half way between the two a small alley ran south side of the street to more houses and St Johns Chapel built about 1360 and in 1920 being used as a dwelling house.

In 1919 A. E. Reed Paper manufactures purchased all the houses on the south side of street including the chapel and most off the land South towards the next hamlet Mill Hall from Sir Rodger Twisden Bart included in the sale were houses and land to the West of the railway crossing on the south side of the road. One of these houses Willow Cottage a half timber building built about 1600, my maternal Grandparents had lived in since 1897 and my parents with them from 1914. When Father died in 1960 the house was demolished to build a car park.

  1. E. Reed then proceeded to build a paper making mill in 1920 on the South side of the hamlet East of the railway behind the houses, and would be called Aylesford Paper Mills [East Mill] then in 1937/38 another mill on the West side of the railway was built {West Mill}. In the 1930’s Council houses were built in Lunsford lane and the residents were moved out of the dwellings in front of the East mill into the council houses.

All houses on the south side were then demolished to build offices with one exception St. Johns Chapel, which in 1941 when l started my apprenticeship as an Electrical Engineer at the age of fourteen, was being used as a office for the Building Dept. Superintendent, a Mr Wilkins. Later in the same year drawings were made of the chapel all materials marked and the building dismantled and moved to the West site where the stones were used to cover an air raid shelter and the chapel bell was stored in the Engineering stores, the intention was to rebuild the chapel on the A. E. Reed site at Cobdown, Ditton after the war. Unfortunately this was not to be, the stones were taken to Cobdown Sports ground and used as part of a garden wall with a plaque stating the chapel had been destroyed by German bombing raid. This is untrue, the only time East Mill had been bombed was in 1940, Father and I were standing one lunch time out side of Willow Cottage during the battle of Britain when we saw a Dornier Bomber flying low almost parallel with Newhythe Lane open its bomb doors and drop its bombs one of which killed one man and put Reeds Number 6. Paper Machine out of production until after the war.

About 1956 the bell with other bronzes were stolen by an Engineering fitter and recovered in the same year. In 1978, I found the Bell in the Engineers store and spoke to the General Manager a Mr George Moorhen who gave it to the Maidstone Museum.

On retiring in 1988 I decided to ask at the Museum to see the bell. They were only too happy to do so, and took me into the basement amongst a lot of other museum pieces.

 Dennis Foreman born 18 2 1927 in Willow Cottage New Hythe.


Updated: 13th September 2017 — 3:49 am

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