AYNHO – Old Powder Mills
‘Aynho’ is the Powder Mills house nearest to what used to be the main entrance to the original gunpowder works (and later SmithKline and finally GSK). It was originally two cottages built in 1862 by the Curtis Brothers, Charles and Thomas, soon after their firm had bought the business from William Burton in 1869. The Curtis brothers expanded the firm considerably in the following 10-20 years and one of the consequences was that they needed more housing for the workers. (See ‘The Lost Powder Mills of Leigh’ by Chris Rowley.
In 1952 Register of Electors, Aynho was lived in by David and Bessie East. In the register they are said to be in ‘Hawden Village’ as are several of the houses in the Powder Mills Area.
‘Aynho’ – already converted – was bought in 1961 by Mr Frank and Mrs Hazel Coppins. They modernized it, taking out many original features, including fireplaces, etc. In 1961, the house was already called ‘Aynho’ which the Coppins retained. (They guessed that the name came from the village of Aynho between Oxford and Banbury). Frank used to commute every day to London, bicycling to Tonbridge station by the ‘black path’. He was a keen amateur photographer with his own dark room and took many pictures of the Leigh area. Hazel was for many years a hugely well-informed Leigh Parish Councillor. Frank died in the early 1990s. Hazel died at the end of September – surrounded by the new ‘1811’ development, rather than the industrial hotch-potch of GSK.
Chris Rowley (October 2018)