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Questions on industry & commerce
On this page - your enquiries and some of your answers on some of our industries and businesses

AE Taylor - Boatbuilder - E278

Barge - Agincourt


Cattermole - jewellers

Cement Works

Collar Factory Hill

Coal and Bricks

Dolphin barge material

East Kent Ironworks

Essex Labourers

Hero water bottle

HMS Keppel - E303

Jacksons mineral water works

John H Amos - Steamer

Liguria Marine

Millen bros. Milliners & Drapers

Postal Service by Rail

Paper Mills - E302


Red Triangle Portland Cement - E322

Sheerness Docks

Sittingbourne Bank

Tannery, Chalkwell Rd - E306

Taylor & sons

The Growth of Sittingbourne

"The Puggy"


see also our personal histories pages



Railway Station - Enq 4

I live in Preston, Lancs ( My wife and I lived in Sittingbourne when we got married in 1969).

I am building a model railway of Sittingbourne as it was in mid 1950's. I have plenty of photos of the railway itself, as they are available from many railway books. However, what I am trying to get hold of, is a photo of the water tower which was in the station forecourt and photos of the 3 story houses that fronted the station forecourt.

I am also trying to find out what colour the transhipment shed for Bowaters would have been painted, if it was painted at all in the 1950's and also what traffic was brought to this shed, presumably it was china clay for the paper making.  Finally, from the 1938 map, I see there was what looks like a brickworks to the western end of the station area with a narrow gauge line leading to one of the railways sidings, can anyone tell me if this was a brick works, and if so when it ceased working and what gauge the works railway system was.

It is good to see that the original station buildings from 1860 are still largely intact.  And I am pleased to see that there is a museum in Sittingbourne.

Yours, Terry Tracey

Dear Sir

I note that, in your latest on line question and answer session, Terry Tracey asks about the transhipment shed and and narrow gauge line to the west of Sittingbourne Station.

I am not able to provide information as to the painting of the transhipment shed  but it was used for china clay traffic from Burngullow in Cornwall. The china clay was used in the production of high quality glossy paper.

The only narrow gauge line which made any connection with the main line was the 2ft 6 inch (762mm) gauge line to the paper mill itself and the onward connection to Kemsley and Ridham Dock. Of course a significant part of this line still exists as the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway.

There were a number of brickfield lines in the general area which appear to have been of 2ft (600mm) gauge. The most notable of these ran from a brickworks in the vicinity of Church Marshes and crossed the 2ft 6 in gauge near Burley Crossing.   

Bob Newcombe

Managing Director SKLR


Below is a photo of the Bowater siding for Terry. It was painted green at the time in the 1970s. I have tried to find pictures of the water tower and the buildings in the forecourt but without success.

Terry Fallon, SHM

Liguria Maritime - Enq 52


I am researching Naval History post World War II and have come across a photo of HMS Keppel taken 30th April 1979 beached at LIGURIA MARITIME at Sittingbourne, Kemsley Mill (I assume) is in the background of the shot. I had just moved to Sittingbourne in 1979 and did not realise there was/is a ship breakers here. I have also found references to Ligiria breaking WWII submarines at Sittingbourne. Please tell me what you can about this yard - is it still trading and where was it situated in relation to current Sittingbourne geography.


Simon Bodmer


I am happy to respond to your enquiry about the Liguria Marine Company which was set up on Milton Creek. From memory, I guess that it was started about twenty years ago and was in operation for about five years. It has now ceased trading, destroyed by vandalism and violence. The Liguria brothers were, I believe, Italian and had probably been in ship breaking somewhere before. They bought vessels at the end of their working life and cut them up for scrap metal using the Churchfield Wharf on Milton Creek. They were not particularly careful in disposing of the fuel oil in the ships and other dangerous chemicals so the land they operated on became very heavily contaminated and has had to be very carefully (and very expensively) treated. Unfortunately some thieves tried to raid the place to steal the valuable metals which were recovered and there were some violent confrontations. In one of these incidents one of the Liguria brothers had a heart attack and died. The other brother was so broken by this that he soon gave up the business and moved away. I have no idea what vessels they bought and broke up because they tended to be rather secretive in their operations. I would not know how to start searching for the names of such boats so I am afraid that I cannot help you with that.

If there is anything else I can help you with, you are welcome to get in touch.                         


Thanks for this information. It would seem however that they were in business around 30 years ago as the picture of HMS Keppel aground on the mud of Milton Creek was taken in April 1979. Its such a shame there seem to be no more records of this company, but it seems that may not have been as legitimate as you would like and not very environmentally conscious as they would have to be today.  Where in relation to today's layout at Milton was or is Churchfield Wharf? anywhere close to Prentis Quay or perhaps further up towards Kemsley Mill, or was it more Murston Side of the creek?

Many Thanks for your time on this.




Enq 303 - Shipbreakers - HMS Keppel


Whilst serving in HMS Keppel, an anti-submarine frigate, our son was christened on board, the ship's bell being used as the font in the Wardroom.

My enquiries as to the whereabouts of that bell led me to the information that HMS Keppel was broken up in Sittingbourne in 1979, although I have no knowledge as to the name of the shipbreakers at that time.

Would you be able to identify who were the involved shipbreakers, which in turn might give me further lead as to the current home of the bell?

John Perry, 7/1/09

Enq 281 - Hero mineral water
Bob Boyd came into the museum a couple of weeks ago to enquire about a bottle he had dug up. It was stamped "Hero" mineral water, and also had Sheerness and District licensed Victuallers on it. Would anybody know where and roughly when it might have been made? Thanks, Bill Risbridger

Bottles made by or for "Jacksons" - enq 03

Dear sir or madam,  My friend has dug up some old glass bottles which were used to store minerals and aerated water. The bottles are intact including the marbles inside. The bottles have the name of "Jackson's,  Milton Regis, Sittingbourne" on them and I was wondering whether you have any information concerning this factory such as where it was and when it may have closed down. If not you might point us in the right direction as to were we may be able to get this information.

yours thankfully P. Collier

I am researching the former Milton Mineral Works, also known as Jackson Mineral Water Works. When was this company established, how long did it operate and where was its factory, please? Do you have any photos relating to this firm?

Many thanks, John Clancy

The works were situated in St. Paul's St. The location is known but investigation is still in hand as to the direction the factory faced. We do not have any pictures, but we have found a note about the factory which first appeared in 1899 which I will forward to those interested.

John Hull, SHM

Jacksons - Enq 130

Would you be kind enough to post the following question on your research enquiries page please:I am researching the Milton Mineral Water Works at two premises in St Paul's Street and Church Street, Milton Regis.The building at Church Street was also known as "Jackson's Lemonade Factory." I know that when the Jackson's finally relinquished control of this business it was in the hands of E.Reynolds around the late 1920's (Possibly related to the Jacksons).  I also have been told that after the Lemonade Factory was closed down in it was used as a sausage making factory owned and run by the Twyman Brothers. Can any of your members help me with further information on the Twyman Bros. and E.Reynolds trading in Church Street/St Paul's Street, Milton?

Further: I have just received more information from the Saskatchewan Archives Board in Canada (where the original owner of the Milton Mineral Water Works emigrated to in or around 1908 and where his family deposited their collection of photographs and documents).

The Jackson's sold the business in 1920 to Messrs W.G and W.H.B. Reynolds, but alas, have not yet been able to view the details of the sale so I do not have an original address for them.

I think E.Reynolds was involved at a later date.  (AB)

Jacksons bottles -enq 197

I am in fact the great great great grand daughter of the people that owned and ran the Jackson mineral works.
I was very intrigued to read a posting on your most interesting website about the finding of the Jackson's mineral water works codd bottles. I would be most grateful if it would be possible to be put in touch with the correspondent that had found the bottles? I have in our family possession 2 broken codd bottles bearing the logo but would like to see the complete bottles, if possible.
The mineral water works was in our family for quite a few years but eventually , if your pardon the pun, fizzled out. It is not quite been ascertained why, but i do know part of the family emigrated to Canada. My mother, remembers her father telling her about it, but cannot remember all the details as such. I do hope you can help.  Trudy

Bricks & Brickmaking - enq 18

Found your site by chance (searched for "brick making" & "Sittingbourne") after finding an ancestor listed in the 1881 census:

John Gibson of 30 George Street, Sittingbourne aged 54, with the occupation of "Brick maker".

Your article on brick making was therefore very interesting - thank you.

Penny Smith




Why did Sittingbourne Grow ?  - enq 16

I'm a pupil at Highsted Grammar School and am doing a project of the history of Sittingbourne is it possible for you to answer my question?

Why did Sittingbourne grow?


Thank you for your enquiry regarding Sittingbourne's growth, which I have passed to our historians for a considered answer.  In the meantime though, please browse our website, because I think the answers you need are there in the "about our town" page.  Possibly the answers lie in the words, pilgrims, France, railway, bricks, paper and commuters !

Allen, SHM

(more comprehensive answer follows)




Oswego, NY Paper Mills - enq 242

I am doing some research into my husband's family and I came across your web-site and I wondered if you may be able to help with a question that we are trying to find the answer to.

My husband's great aunt with her husband and brother emigrated from Milton/Sittingbourne about 1907 to Oswego in New York State to work in the paper mills there. Looking through the records of Ellis Island and the original ships manifests, we find that not only most of her husband's family but also friends and other relations moved out there from c.1903 to 1910.
I wonder if there was a connection between these 2 towns, esp as they both had paper mills or did they just follow a family member? Was there a shortage of work in the UK and better prospects elsewhere at this time? The paper mill in Oswego was called St Regis Paper Co.
Would be grateful for any comments
Thanks Helena Kent
Vic Berry's shop - enq 215

I am enquiring about a shop which used to be in West Street in the late 40's, early 50's. It was run by a man called Vic (?) Berry, and was situated near what is now Bedrock, and the Independent Mortgage advisors. Any information or memories about Vic or his shop would be appreciated.

My Dad, Vic Berry, was the other bookmaker in Sittingbourne (one of your photos shows his rivals Shoesmiths). His business (East Kent Commissions) was run for many years in the 1940s and 1950 from a very ancient and decrepid Tudor (?) building at 66/68 West Street. This was constructed at least partly of flint and brickwork, with a distinctive half-moon shaped window. Sadly the building was demolished in the late 1950s and Dad moved his business to Crescent Street and sold up in 1965. Dad and Mum died in 1997 in Queensland.
I hope this information is of interest.
Peter Berry, Wales

Sheerness Docks - enq 192

I am researching the geological history of Sheerness Docks. Do you know anything about when the land was reclaimed and how is was reclaimed?
Yours faithfully, Catherine Poulton

Forwarded to Sheerness Heritage Centre
see our
links page
Enq 278 - AE Taylor & "Dolly"
Would you have any records about a boatbuilder in Sittingbourne called AE Taylor. In 1908 my g grandfather had a cutter built by the company in 1906 and designed by E Saul.

I would like to know if any records exist about this craft, called Dolly and registered at Lloyd's.
Any help would be appreciated.
Many thanks
Sax Jarritt

The Paper Mill and the Fire ! - enq 67

Do you have available any details about (Lloyds) Paper Mill in  Sittingbourne? - where was it situated exactly? - I understand there was a fire c1908 - was it completely destroyed?   - an ancestor who lived in Gibson Street was an employee at a paper mill in Sittingbourne in 1891 - so can I assume this was the only paper  mill in Sittingbourne at that time? - are there any newspaper articles about the paper mill - ideally with  photos and / or the fire?

April Ashton, 2005

The mill is, and was, just to the North of the railway line, just to the west of the railway station.  You can find it on Google Earth !  There was one major fire at the mill in May 1900 and another in 1907.  A great deal of detail regarding the mill can be found in the Sittingbourne and Milton illustrated History by Dr. P. Bellingham. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.  The East Kent Gazette may have articles or photos of the fire in 1900.

Peggy Jackson, SHM

These pictures appear to be labelled "Great fire at the 'Daily Chronicle' Jan 5th 1907 "?


East Kent Ironworks - enq 84

Do you have any information of the above situated in Frederick Street in 1908 particularly register of workers.  We are researching my wife's great grandfather Walter Burrell who came to Borden in 1911 from Suffolk originally then Stratford Essex he was a Blacksmith and we would like to know why he made the move we also know that he was a Baptist. John Rose, Plymouth Devon

John, Feb 2006 




Postal Service by Rail - enq. 98

I am engaged on a personal research project regarding the Postal History of the South Eastern and Chatham Railways (and constituent companies: the South Eastern Railway and the London Chatham and Dover Railway). This dating from pre uniform postage (1840) to railway grouping in 1923, nothing later. I have been happily trawling my way through the Primary Sources held at  A number of archives such as that held at my own place of work; the British Postal Museum & Archive, the National Archives (Kew), National Railway Museum and the Ashford Railway Library. Having now seen most of the relevant material held by the Nationals, I Now need to start filling in the gaps with any available local material, so I am now beginning to work through more local collections, hence my contacting yourselves. Do you hold any archive material relating to the railways for this period, circa 1858 - 1923 that relate to the postal operations carried out by the railway? This would include the movement of mails between post office and station, telegraph operations at the station, the opening of the first station letter box (a large Victorian 'A' type wall box currently being sited at Sittingbourne Rly Station), any images of the TPOs or Indian Mails moving through etc. etc. Living in Sittingbourne myself (though working in London), I am happy to visit at a time convenient to yourselves to research any such material you may hold.

Julian Stray, Apr 06

Enq 302 - Mill and Nightclub

I’m wondering if you may help I’m trying to get contacts for the paper mill in town to go and do some photography of the place before it starts to get demolished I have had family and a lot of friend work there so I’m trying to get some photo history on the place plus one more I’m trying to get a contact on is the old night spot in town j j,s or base night club this one a lot of people in the town have visited over the years so I would like to catch this one before this go’s too

Kwai Galloway, 2008
Kemsley Paper Mill - enq187

I have just visited your website and must say I was enthralled by it, I lived in Sittingbourne from 1974 to 1990 and also worked at the Paper Mill in Kemsley and I am ashamed to say I knew very little about the Town.  Could you tell me when the mill was actually built and was it always owned by Bowaters until it became UK Paper?

Keep up the good work!


Have a look at www.sittingbournemill.co.uk

Shirley, SHM


Taylor & sons - enq 168

I have come across your fine webpage via a Google search.  Apparently you are very helpfully answering questions on local

industry and trade. I wonder whether you can help answering my query?
My father left me a Barometer which on its dial states "Taylor & Sons" and "Sittingbourne".
Being otherwise unable to find anything about this company, I wonder whether you have any information about this company that would help me find an approximate date of manufacture or some other background information.
Thanks you very much for your esteemed assistance.
Arnd Klinkhart
Hamburg, Germany

Taylor & Sons are in the 1908 directory at 38 High Street as Jewellers and Silversmiths. The 1925 Directory lists a Mrs Ruth Gabriel trading as Jeweller and Silversmith at that address.It seems unlikely that Taylor & Sons actually made the barometer.

Terry, SHM

The Tannery, Chalkwell - enq 306

I wondered if anyone could help me with my research re: the above? I've lived there for 20 years.

I have over the last few years tried to find a photograph of it in its earlier environment 1870-1880's all to no avail. I have just started to go to the Archives at County Hall with Mr Alan Amos who is kindly helping me.
I wonder if anyone could let me have any photos or relevant information that could help me?
Many thanks
Sittingbourne Bank - Enq. 97

I have just been sorting out my late fathers house, I have found a one pound note dated 1844 issued by Sittingbourne Bank. Could you please tell was there a Sittingbourne bank that issued its own currency at this time?

Thanks, Bob Stride.



Collar Factory Hill - ENQ121

Can you please tell me anything about what was formerly called "Shirt Collar Hill" ? Where can I find out anything about the Old Brenley Corner which originally stood before the roundabout was built, as my grandmother lived in one of the two cottages that stood there ?

Thanks, Ron Glister

Issue No. 25 of our Journal Heritage contains some memories of Phyllis Harrison who worked at the shirt factory in the 1930s.

Terry, SHM

Coal and Bricks - Enq 127

The former gas works, which I believe were at Milton regis.  Where and how did they get the coal from, as far as I can see from the 1938 map, there was no rail connection and how were the by-products transported. 

Also, were the local bricks, produced at Sittingbourne, yellow London stock or another colour.

Terry Tracey, Preston, Lancs.

Literally coals from Newcastle by coastal sailing vessels which had been plying this trade for many years to London and the south. They could put in at Milton Creek to unload or to load. The bricks were the yellow stock brick used extensively in building Victorian London including the Underground Railway.  

Terry, SHM


The Puggy - Enq 131

Hello, I think that your website is great. I now live in Germany after moving from Sittingbourne in 1977.My Mum and brothers and sister still live there. I wonder if anybody can give any information or photos about the "puggy" we used to play there as kids. What was made there I remember some kind of machine or big wheel ... 

And where did "scratchasshill" get its name from?  

Best regards John Warner, Germany

ref. 167

Loved the site – used to live in Sittingbourne 1953-75 and used to play in the puggy as did my older brothers before me.

The puggy was originally some kind of clay quarry and mill which must have closed in the 50’s as my eldest brother recalled paying in the wagons used to take the clay to the mill building.  He and friends remembered being thrown our or being tipped out on a bend!

By the time I played there in the early sixties with many other children from the Rectory Road area  the wagons had gone but it was a great adventure playground – lots of mounds and pits – with long grass and shrubs in which to hide, and we built camps in the main quarry (always water logged)  from all of the wood, corrugated sheets left lying around.  And when older it was a great bicycle obstacle course – and somewhat dangerous with tracks on top of mounds from which to fall but going up and down the dips was great fun.

The mill building ruin was still there and there was a huge mill race (?) concrete “stone” used for some part of the process – being horizontal in a brick/concrete pit of water  we were told it was turned by ponies – which presumably also pulled the wagons.

The puggy was accessed from the top of Gaze Hill Avenue and the top of Glebe Lane – by the corner of the recreation ground / Glebe ?? House.

Reading another enquiry 62 about the old Rectory within what was referred to as Murston Park which must have become the recreation ground off Rectory Road when the council estate was built in the 50’s brought back other memories – the house was used in the 60’s for I think builders from the M2 construction.   I recall workers walking along the path from Rectory road which went across the middle of the rec to the house.  Nutfields further down Rectory road  went up a hill with the rectory on the left had no houses except on the corner near the shop it but it had lots of prefabs to the right which seemed to be built with no proper roads – I can only recall the muddy lane up to and between the prefab bungalows!   They later built houses up the lane and on the prefab site – i.e.  the back of the houses on rectory road  backing onto the rec. 

The old rectory became derelict and a place for older children to play – very dangerous – I can recall it was a huge 3-4 or more story building and was then pulled down.   Another estate was built on its site in the late 60’s / early 70’s – Glebe Gardens I think.

On a return to Sittingboune some 7 years ago I was surprised to see the puggy had been built on – but I was relieved to find the remains of the mill retained in a fenced off area the rear of the old persons flats accessed from the older estate (1970’s off the top of South Avenue – Perigrin Drive.

Kind Regards, David J Stanley



Essex Labourers - Enq 119

Hope I have the right address for this enquiry? In very general terms I wonder if you have any knowledge as to what was bringing Essex labourers to Kent (sittingbourne specifically)around 1880? Was there are a large building project in the town at that time? am seeking this info for family history purposes.

Brian Woods


Cement Works - Enq 140

Can you tell me if there was a cement mill at Sittingbourne in the 1870's?  I have an ancestor, William Bullivant, living in Sittingbourne, who states his occupation as a cement manufacturer in the 1870 census.  In the 1881 census, he is living in Shakespeare Road, Sittingbourne and describes himself as a retired manager.
Thank you for your help.

Karen, Australia

During the 19th century there was a cement works at Elmley on the Isle of Sheppey near Sittingbourne. There was a ferry across the Swale between Sittingbourne and Elmley. The works closed in 1881 having found local raw materials unsatisfactory.

Smeed Dean & Co. had brickfields and a cement works in Church Road Murston, again next to Sittingbourne. The cement works was certainly functioning around 1900 but I am not sure if it started as early as the 1870s. A check on the 1871 census for Church Road Murston might provide a clue.

Terry, SHM

There is a lot of info in the book George Bargebrick Esquire by Richard Hugh Price.on cement production and brickmaking unfortunately he doesn't give a time line so you would need to find the relevant page the access the info

Page 37 deals with some aspects of the cement industry

Not sure if its still in print

Shirley, SHM



Millen bros. - Drapers enq 393
I would like some help with regard to dating a drawing found where the backing paper refers to Millen Bros (millners and drapers etc) of Sittingbourne High Street.
R Cattermole - jewellers enq 268

I have recently come in to the possession of my late grandmother's engagement ring. It was purchased from a jeweller in sittingbourne by the name of R Cattermole. The address was 32 High Street West Sittingbourne. I would love to be able to find out more about this shop as i would love to find out how old this ring actually is. I would be grateful for any help.

Yours sincerely Wendy Bishenden
Dolphin barge material - enq 195

My cousin and I are coming to Sittingbourne to do some family research. I was born and brought up in Sittingbourne and am an old girl of Highsted School, but my cousin knows very little of the town. Our family history illustrates the history of the town fairly well! As well as agricultural labourers, our ancestors include brickfield labourers and barge masters as well. Our grandfather was a supervisor on the locomotives at the Mill, now the SKLR!

As well as visiting parish churches and graveyards, we'd like to do some research on the barges and wondered if you hold any records relating to them. We have the names of a couple of barges our great-great-grandfather was working on during the censuses of 1881 and 1891 and would love to know what they were carrying (almost certainly bricks one way, but how about the return journey?). Can you confirm whether the Dolphin Barge Museum is still closed? Is there any chance of accessing their information? Could you also confirm that you will be open on Saturday 11 August from 10 to 4 as we'd like to call in on you too!
Many thanks Julie Ashdown

Research on barges: I'm afraid that the Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum has had to close. The paper records are stored in our museum and we have several members who are familiar with the barging world in this town. I could ask them to be present at the museum when you visit there. You ask about the return journey of the barges after discharging their bricks in London; they brought back domestic rubbish which was then spread all over the North Kent Marshes.

For the graveyard of St. Michael's Church, Sittingbourne, I suggest you contact the vicar and ask for access to the Parish Burial Register to see if any of your relatives are buried there. For the Sittingbourne Cemetery, I suggest that you contact Swale Borough Council and ask for the burial records they hold.

The SBC tourism department will send you a map of Sittingbourne if you write or phone to ask them.

Peter, SHM

Sadly, following a fire in 2008, the Dolphin Barge Museum is closed - see the link on our links page for up to date information.
Barge - Agincourt - Enq 258

Wonder if you can help me, we are currently investigating our family tree and discovered that a relative "EDWIN PRYER" was the captain of a barge that was built in Sittingbourne, see details below:-

Barge Reg Tons Off. No. Port of Reg. Built Date
Agincourt 35 52967 Rochester Sittingbourne 1866

He showed up in the 1881 census, please could you tell me whether you would hold any additional information on the boat or captain to include in our search.

Any help you could give would be very much appreciated.

Regards Mark Pryer

Steamer - John H Amos - enq 392

Could you please tell me the name of the paddle steamer that was moored in murston creek for a number of years.

was it the famous amos or was it another one.
i used to play on it when i was a kid and am interested as to what happened to it...
Darran Wright

I have contacted some of the people living in lower Murston, Yes there was a paddle steamer berthed at the cement wharf during the eighties, but no one can remember what it was called. I don't know how I missed this one as I was working at the auto plant
Bryan Clark
Red Triangle Portland Cement -  enq 322

The Friends of Berengrave are at present involved in an archaeological investigation into the area of the engine house pump room at Berengrave Chalk Pit and we are led to believe the company were declared bankrupt in 1933 or 35. As Rainham was part of Sittingbourne in this period we wondered if you have any records or pictures concerning this company which traded as Red Triangle Portland Cement. and was operated by a Mr Horne a barge owner from Essex from 1901.

Many Thanks

Fraser Miller
Friends of Berengrave


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