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Kent Archaeological Review extract

Faversham Gunpowder Mills --
Nearly 1,500 Raised for Restoration.
by Arthur Percival.
(Honorary Secretary, The Faversham Society.)

Since the last note on the Chart Gunpowder Mills appeal was published in the February 1968 issue another 450 has been raised and the Borough Council has made its contribution of 250. The fund now totals 1,450. Taking into account the grants promised by the County Council and Ministry of Works this still leaves another 1,050 to be raised.

Locally, the Faversham Society has organised a number of special events, including an opportunity sale, a gunpowder fete, film shows and two walks round the remains of the three main gunpowder works. Donations are still coming in from people in the town and outside it.

Offers in kind have also been received. Plusgas Ltd, manufacturers of penetrating oils, have promised to ease the machinery free of charge. A professional model-maker is to produce scale models of the mills and a landscape architect has undertaken to design an attractive lay-out for the site, which will be a small riverside garden as well as an industrial monument.

Temporary scaffolding has been erected to support the upper bearings of the machinery and provided enough money can be raised in time it is planned to start restoration work in the Spring. Meanwhile building on the surrounding site is in full swing and the mills have proved such an attraction that there has been a minor rush to reserve house-plots close to them. Already one proud owner has given his home the name "Chart House," and following suggestions by the Faversham Society the estate roads have appropriate names such as Nobel Court and Millstream Close.

Two added attractions on the site will be an unusually fine Victorian cast iron lamp-post salvaged from the entrance drive and the old factory bell from the Oare Gunpowder Works. Cast in 1779, this was recently discovered in the stores at Ardeer in Ayrshire, where the Faversham industry was finally transferred in 1934. ICI, the owners, kindly presented the bell to the Society and it will be erected in a special "mini-belfry" on the Chart Mills site. Another works bell from Faversham, this time dating from 1757, is already in the North Ayrshire Museum at Saltcoats. It was known as the "Invasion Bell," presumably because it would have been rung had Napoleon ever invaded East Kent. The survival of these two "industrial" bells from one town is remarkable and it would be interesting to know whether there are any others with a Kent provenance.

If any readers who have not yet subscribed to the appeal would like to do so we shall be pleased to send them a copy of the free leaflet about the mills. The Society has also published a longer account of "The Faversham Gunpowder Industry" and this is already in its second edition, more than 500 copies having sold in a year. Copies can be obtained from 42 Newton Road, Faversham, price 4 shillings and 6 pence, post free.

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