The Larkfield Society

Where memories are recalled

Aylesford Papermills

New Mill AylesfordAylesford Paper Mills was owned by Albert E Reed & Co Ltd., that in 1946 owned 4 other UK paper mills, but grew over the next 20 years to become one of the world’s largest paper group.
In 1946 the mill had 9 paper machines, 6 in the older East Mill (East of the railway) and 3 in West Mill.

EPW047723Products were newsprint and mechanical printings; Kraft papers, converted on site to paper sacks; Cellulose wadding, converted on-site to hygiene products; sulphite tissue, used for packing and “hard” toilet tissue; and MG papers, used for paper bags and envelopes.

It is noticeable that there was little in the way of water treatment. The mill was situated just below the “limit of tidal reach” meaning that discharged water did not need to be treated to any great extent. The Maidstone Sewage Treatment works was situated on the East bank of the Medway just opposite for the same reason.


Reed News July 1965 says this…

With modifications the tuber is still the same basic machine on which John Winskill started building the business 35 years ago.
The modifications, however, mean a lot, because the paper sack in those 35 years has achieved a degree of sophistication undreamed of in the days when the humble cement-bag was the industry’s mainstay.

Cyril Payne, Works Manager, is one of Mr. Winskill’s team who can remember those days.

“Then,” said Cyril Payne, “a sack was a sack – today it is that and a whole lot more. “Today’s flexible, light, and phenomenally strong paper sacks have to be tailor-made to meet the requirements of each product they will contain.” Today’s sack, in fact, is not one sack, but can be as many as six-in-one, as a number of separate plies of relatively light paper have been proved far stronger than a single heavier ply.

Paper Rolls ready for sacksFood for the sack factory – stacks and stacks of rolls wait for the tubers in the stack-shed at Reed Medway Sacks


Bert Wright on Forklift






Bert Wright, fork truck driver manoeuvres a load of completed sacks




Four- or six-ply sacks are therefore now the order of the day, each one of the plies being a sack in itself sharing the stresses and strains to which the whole article is subjected. But the permutation of number and type of plies is endless and many modern sacks have to incorporate barrier plies to combat acidic action, moisture, odour and so on.

Cement bagsAs a new product is ‘discovered’ which could be packed in a sack, R.M.S.’s Research and Development staff go to work to evolve the most suitable sack possible, to contain it. ldeas for new uses of sacks come mainly from Sales Director Douglas Wall’s team of area sales representatives, R.M.S.’s weather eye on the British packaging scene.

The idea then goes to the Packaging Development Department who will produce facts and figures as well as sample sacks for the manufacturer whose product is to be packaged. Then it’s back to the Sales Representative to sell the sack.

The Reed Medway Sack business is booming, but they don’t stop short at paper sacks alone. In their Packaging Machinery Department they also design and, through the auspices of a local engineering firm, manufacture the machinery that fills and seals the sacks.

This is done primarily as a service to customers buying Reed Medway Sacks, but the machinery is also sold to other sack consumers, particularly abroad.

Medway’s filling, sealing and shaping machinery is in fact exported to practically every country on earth, including Russia and the United States.
Reed Medway Sacks, then known as Medway Paper Sacks, came into the Reed Group in 1933. It employed almost 900 people, about 30 times the number John Winskill started with in 1929.

They are a big‘, team, but a mobile one and a close-knit one, and of his people Mr. Winskill said: “But for their loyalty and industry over the years, R.M.S would not be what it is today – the leader in Europe and a company to be reckoned with throughout the world in the paper sack business.”

Source: Reed News July 1965


EPW047721Reed International on River Medway EAW018282











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