Charlton Paper Mill
"In the locality now occupied. by the Charlton Car park, previously to this it was Crundalls Saw Mills stood Dickensons paper mill, which was a conspicuous structure in 1837, having a tower with a clock in it with four faces. William Rustall Dickenson, who had previously owned Buckland Paper Mills, was a member of the Corporation and was elected Alderman in 1835. His new paper mill, built in 1833, being unsuccessful, and in 1839, becoming bankrupt, the works were stopped and in May 1840, the Plant and. Materials were sold for removal. W.R. Dickenson built himself a mansion Brook House".
The above is extracted from "Dover, a Perambulation" by John Bavington Jones, published in 1907. Jones was editor of the Dover Express for more than forty years and Honorary Librarian of the Dover Corporation Records from 1916 until his death in 1922. He wrote several books about Dover and. was considered an authority on the subject.
C.P. Davies, in his account of the history of Charlton Paper Mill, which he calls Spring Garden Paper Mill, attributes the ownership to George Dickinson, the same Dickinson who, he states, at one time occupied Buckland Mill. A Dykes Spicer speaks of it having been Charles Dickinson, a member of the Apsley and Croxley mills family, who once occupied Buckland Mill while A.H. Shorter supports Davies in nominating the gentleman as George Dickinson and refers to an insurance policy issued by the Sun Fire Company which read, "In 1854 George Dickinsons steam paper mill at Charlton near Dover was in progress of completion". Apart from the Christian name employed, the spelling of the surname is important. It is difficult to understand how Jones could. have confused a well known Alderman who built an equally well known Dover house with a relatively unknown stranger to the town whose name was even spelt differently. The gentleman in question was in fact George Dickinson, the younger brother of John Dickinson of Croxley. Jones is incorrect to suggest the complete stoppage of the mill in 1840 for it continued as a paper mill until the early 1850s. While the materials might have been sold to satisfy the creditors the papermaking machine was operating until the mill was closed down.
Dickinson was living in his big house, which he built in 1833/4 near to the mill, when he went bankrupt and it was here, according to Davies, on the 8th. February 1838 that his assignees held a meeting "to assent or dissent from the said assignees carrying on..... the said mills..... in order to work up raw materials now in hand to the best advantage". This house was subsequently acquire for a hospital by public subscription and called The Royal Victoria Hospital and still forms a part of the old hospital. From the deeds of the Dover Hospital one learns that J.M. Fector had. advanced George Dickinson £34,175 - 13s. Fector either took over the mill after Dickinsons bankruptcy or was acting for the creditors as a lesser. It is of some interest to note that his daughter married William R. Dickenson, the Alderman mentioned by Jones as the builder of Charlton Paper Mill. This may have confused Jones and explain his error.
In the excise list of 1852, a year before Dickinson is stated to have built his mill, the occupier of the mill is given as James Brock.. After Dickinsons bankruptcy the mill was advertised "to let and entered into immediately" and. in a Poll Book of 1841 James Brock is again named and. He appears as a tenant of J.M. Fector in the Tythe Schedule of 1843 and is also listed in directories in 1847 and 1849. There is no mention of the trade James Brook carried on in 1852 but it was probably that of papermaking on a small scale which Dickinson developed the following year.
James Brock appears to have given up his tenancy of the mill between 1849 and 1852 for the directory of the latter year listed Richard Harding as a papermaker of Charlton. His brother was a dyer of Dover. An interesting item connected with the mill when operated by Harding can be found in a booklet entitled. "The true history of the life and. times of Charles Norris Becker, Town Crier for Dover. Born February 27th. 1834. Up to the time of publishing this January 1912, Aged 78". It reads:- "During the time I was at the Dyers Mr. Hardings brother kept a paper Mill at St. Peter Street. One of the young men had left and my master asked. me if I would go and lend. a hand till he got another ..... I went. My duty was to catch the paper as it came out of the machine. It was foolscap paper and I let some fall and the foreman gave me a good box on the ear. I then dropped the lot and ran and he kept after me.....". This recollection of Becker establishes the fact that the Charlton mill had a papermaking machine equipped with a cutter.
The last reference to the mill is found in a catalogue of the various properties which had belonged to J.M. Fector and. which were offered for sale in 1856. It was described as "All these desirable premises, lately used as a paper mill..... situate at Spring Place". From this it may be assumed that papermaking at Charlton terminated between the years 1852 and. 1856. There is no record. of the disposal of the plant and machinery which may be judged to have been fairly extensive for the period..
In writing of this mill it has been named Charlton Paper Mill because it was sited in the parish of Charlton. Davies refers to it as Spring Garden Paper Mill while Becker refers to it as being at St. Peter Street (known to the original writer some years ago as Peter Street). It was described as "situate at Spring Place" when offered for sale in september 1856. The exact location of the mill is not known but it would have been between Peter Street and the old Victoria Hospital.