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Twentieth Century


Some of Dartford's most prominent industries suffered extreme decline in the twentieth century causing redundancies and unemployment, brewing, paper-making, flour milling and the manufacture of cement were the main industries to suffer extinction or significant decline.

Nearby Swanscombe Cement Works was closed by Blue Circle in 1990. This industry brought great prosperity to the companies involved in cement manufacture, but left a legacy of despoiled and derelict land and pollution locally. In 1990 Dartford contained some 1,700 acres of spoiled land resulting from extractive industries. Cement-dust pollution from local cement works was a regular subject of complaint in the local press throughout the twentieth century. The paper industry was also accused of causing significant environmental damage. As early as October 1902 the council's Building and Sanitary Committee recommended that '...the attention of the London Paper Mills Company Ltd. be called to the nuisance arising from the emission of black smoke from the factory chimney and that they be requested to abate the same'.

Dartford's paper industry got off to a reasonable start at the beginning of the century but then underwent a progressive decline. The London Paper Mills Company based at the Riverside Mills, Dartford, were formed back in 1889. A new mill was built close to Dartford Creek. The five paper machines installed produced approximately 250 tons of paper per week. The mills were taken over by Reeds in 1909 with an emphasis on the production of high-grade printing papers. Production doubled to over 400 tons a week. The mills employed about 500 people in the 1930s producing special paper for photographic printing, office paper, envelopes and stationery.

The Daily Telegraph Mill (formerly the Ettrick Forest Mill founded in 1862) survived until the 1930s as The Dartford Paper Mills Ltd. and was then taken over by Wiggins Teape. These mills employed about 700 workers and produced a wide range of newsprint, chemical wood pulp papers used in offices, and special papers used in the confectionary industry. Dartford's Greasproof Paper Mills opened in 1933. Later taken over by Joseph Rank Ltd., the mill was closed in 1957

Dartford's two breweries went out of business during the first half of the twentieth century. Kidd's Steam Brewery in Hythe Street was demolished in the mid 1930s
to make way for the construction of the town's Co-op store. Dartford Brewery Company's premises in Lowfield Street were demolished much earlier in the century. The Baltic Saw Mills and Daren Mills Ltd., which specialised in the manufacture of white flour, Daren biscuits and self-raising flour, were other casualties of the twentieth century.

John. C. Beadle's coach-building and motor-works employed between 300 and 400 employees at its peak in the 1930s. The firm had been founded in 1894 for the manufacture of horse-drawn vehicles. Later on, the firm specialised in building bodies for commercial, private and passenger-carrying vehicles. The site owned by Beadles included workshops, offices and showrooms. Production ceased in 1957.

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Crossways Business Park
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The final decade of the twentieth century presented opportunities for the development of new smaller-scale hi-tech industries and businesses in and around Dartford as trade parks and business parks were built to attract high-profile businesses to the North Kent area. Crossways, the M.25's largest mixed-use business park was quickly established and attracted prestigious companies. Located next to the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge on the outskirts of Dartford, Crossways provided a new business environment divided into four distinctive business areas, namely Masthead (mixed light industries and warehouses), Admiral's Park (a dedicated design and build office campus), Newton's Court (accommodating varying sizes of warehouses) and Edison's Park (for design and build warehouses).

Other significant industrial and trade park developments in and close to Dartford included the Dartford Trade Park, Victoria Trade Park, Orbital One and the Lakeside Business Park.

Next topic: Communications and transport

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