The mill lands of Buckland are mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) as being on the east side of the London Road and known as the Brox-Ditch Meadow. The Domesday Survey of 1086, talks of a mill, at this location that later historians tell us was owned by Dover Priory until the Dissolution of Monasteries in 1535.
In 1775, Henry Paine built a paper mill alongside the ancient corn mill that he owned and leased to Ingram Horne (d1785) in 1777. Paine was declared bankrupt in 1794 and William Phipps, a local paper maker, took over the mill the following year. William had come to Dover as a journeyman paper-maker and worked for Thomas Radford, the owner of River paper mill. He married one of Radford’s daughters, Sarah, and with the help of his father-in-law bought the lower Buckland mill.
At that time papermaking was a cottage industry with only a small number of employees but once the London Road had been turnpiked access to larger markets was possible. Phipps expanded the mill and by the end of the century, the historian, Edward Hasted, described it as large and well constructed.
By 1810, the mill had come into the possession of Sir Thomas Hyde Page who had bought Brox-Ditch meadow. On part of this land he erected the mansion now referred to as 110 London Road. Later, he sold much of his land holdings at Buckland and Charlton to William Kingsford for £5,750 and moved away. On the death of William, the mill passed to his son also called William. In 1821, William junior borrowed £6,000, expanded the mill and to pay for the cottages he had built for his paper workers, some of which can still be seen along the London Road.
William was declared bankrupt in 1834 and solicitor Thomas Baker Bass bought the mill. To run the it, he hired Christopher and John Phipps, owners of River and Crabble paper mills. They eventually purchased the mill using loans from the local Fector and Latham banks. By 1839 the mill was solely in Christopher Phipps possession and was proving successful. However, due to the failure of the Latham Bank in 1846, he was declared bankrupt and the mill was sold at auction on 2 September that year to builder, John Peirce, of Bartholomew Terrace, Buckland.
Peirce converted the building into a brewery that came into possession of his son-in-law, William Harding. He named his business, Harding’s Wellington Brewery, in honour of the Duke of Wellington, the then Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. William died in 1867 so his widow, Mary Ann, took over. The water used to make the beer came from an aquifer and contained chalybeate – salts of iron, which was the main constituent of a popular beverage, called ‘Old Mary’s Ale.’ Although the brewery was small – the 1881 census shows that Mary only employed two men – it was very successful.
Mary died on 16 February 1905 age 86 and the brewery was put into a Flashman’s auction on 21 April 1905 but it does not appear to have sold. Eventually, in November 1913, the Mannering’s, who owned Buckland corn mill across the river, bought the brewery and used it for storage.
In 1961, plans were submitted by E M Gheysens, toy manufacturers who, at the time had a factory in the old tram shed, (now Hollis Motors), at the bottom of Crabble Hill and wanted new, larger, premises. Before demolition, an inventory was undertaken of what remained of the brewery and this listed: a small waterwheel, 18-feet 6-inches (5.7-metres) in diameter, which drove a pump for drawing water from a well. There was also a grinder for the malted barley, a number of vats, three of which had a diameter of 5-feet (1.5metres), and one, 6-feet 9-inches (2-metres).
The brewery was demolished in 1962 when the new Gheysens’ factory was built. This eventually became a P&O training centre followed by Steel Designers Construction. At the time of writing, the site is derelict.
- Dover Mercury: 21 June 2012
For further information on Dover’s Pubs: http://www.dover-kent.com