Powder Mill Cottages
As the 1811 map of the Powder Mills areas shows (p. 43 in “The Lost Powder Mills of Leigh”), the area consisted of farms, with the nearest dwellings being Ramhurst, the Ramshurst Mill, Hadlow Place, Little Hawden Farm and Selbys. The land was predominantly owned by George Children, with that of James Burton and James Harbroe bordering it. Following the Children family’s financial difficulties, George Children had to pull out of the Ramhurst Mills project and a formal agreement/lease about the land was drawn up. By this time a lot had been achieved on the 12¾ acres developed, which would soon expand to 50 acres. Some of the powder mill buildings had been built, along with a manager’s house and two cottages. The lease drawn up in 1814 was for the rental of the fifty acres or so which the Company now needed and the Mills were assessed for their rateable value which shows that on the site in 1814, as well as two powder mills then working, there was one mansion house and two cottages, with gardens etc .
Sept 6th 1813 – rateable value of Ramhurst Mills 1813.
Valuation of the Powder Mills and land lying in the parish of Leigh in the county of Kent together with the mansion house, cottages, outbuildings etc occupied by Messrs Children and Burton. 1 mansion house and two cottages, gardens, etc, 2 powder mills now in work with all other buildings lying in the said parish together with 12¾ acre of land taken from Ramhurst Farm and 1 acre from the mill. Valued at £102 pa
As the factory expanded more cottages were built. By the time of the 1841 census, as well as the manager’s house, there were now nine cottages for powder mill workers; and by 1851 this had increased to 15 cottages.
When the business was sold in 1859 to Curtis’s and Harvey, the Sales Particulars for the site dated 1859 included the manager’s house, described as a 12-room house, with offices, as well as the 15 cottages for the workmen, which together produced a rental of £117 p.a.
In 1913 the original white cottages for the workers were demolished and the current houses erected by Curtis’s and Harvey, which stretched down the road towards the Oast House and increased the number of homes for the workers. The houses had only one door – on the side away from the mill – to limit damage in the event of an explosion.
The 1918 Electoral Register show 24 Powder Mill Cottages.
In the 1950s two houses which were originally 4 cottages bearing the initials of Curtis and Harvey were still to be seen in the village adjoining the site.
AYNHO – Old Powder Mills
‘Aynho’ is the Powder Mills house nearest to what used to be the main entrance to the original gunpowder works. 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 1859. The Curtis brothers expanded the firm considerably and one of the consequences was that they needed more housing for the workers. In 1961 Aynho was bought by Mr & Mrs Coppins.
Joyce Field (Feb 2020)
Information from “The Lost Powder Mills of Leigh” by Chris Rowley and documents given to the society by Margaret Spender (now in our Archive). Information on Aynho from Barbara Baldock, daughter of Mr & Mrs Coppins.