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AYLESFORD NEWSPRINT

A journey from pulp to paper

Story by passing.by December 31st, 2015

PAPER . . .

. . . has been produced on or around this site in Kent for decades. It was however fairly predictable that a plant which exclusively produced newsprint would eventually succumb to the reduced demand for its primary product. This happened in early 2015 when the closure of the Aylesford site was announced. several months later, we popped in for a look round.


Aylesford produced it’s newsprint from recycled paper. The process was beautifully laied out in the various buildings we visited which were all linked by handy overhead walkways. We started with the warehouse where all the paper was collected and swiftly moved onto the pulping facility and the washing/decontamination plant which cleaned and screened the pulp before it was stored in massive silos ready for the paper making machines.

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It took several journeys to finally crack this place, but once inside the feeling of achievement was immense. The place just kept on giving, every corner turned was a photograph waiting to be taken and a new item of equipment or interesting room to discover. You’re only seeing a tiny fraction of the photos I took and there’s so much more to this place, it’s immense. I absolutely love these derelict industrial giants, they appeal to my sense of logic as the processes they follow are always well designed.

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The sheer number of different machines involved in making what most consider to be a simple everyday product that we take for granted is quite amazing. I knew this place was big, but I never imagined exactly how many different processes were involved. In my mind, paper got chewed into pulp, pulp got made into paper - simples. So what do they all do? I have no idea really, but they’re all a vital part of the process in some way. Everything had that slightly damp ‘woody’ smell to it.

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PM14 is the name of this gigantic paper making machine. Installed in the late 90’s it was intended to ‘save’ the mill, and effectively it did just that. For almost 20 years this behemoth of a machine churned out paper at a rate of 1 mile a minute. That’s crazy! One can only imagine the noise this thing must have made when it was in use.
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At one end of the gigantic machine, the paper was spooled onto massive rolls.

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storage . . .

. . . yep, lots of it. High floor to ceiling racking and a crazy automated system to move all the rolls of paper around. This warehouse was seriously impressive and state of the art in the 90’s when it opened. It represented a massive investment for the mill at the time to try and streamline their operations.
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Finally, the loading bay, also fully automated.
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it just remains to say . . .

This was one of the last paper mills left in Kent, so it’s quite sad to see its demise. As industry goes, it doesn’t get much better than this in my opinion. It’s got a bit of everything and although it’s disgustingly modern by some peoples standards, it still has a certain charm about it.

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