A trip to Sandwich Archives last week proved inspirational, not only in the information found in the archives but in the head of the Hon. Curator Ray. Ray is a walking, talking archive. The act of storytelling is a powerful thing.
Ray spent a while explaining the social and economic importance of Sandwich from the medieval period (there were 4 mills in the Sandwich Bay area) and the reason there were 14 or so mills lining the River Stour, all connected. Sandwich was an extremely important Port and the mills provided a source of food and export. There was also talk of an unscrupulous businessman buying up mills to wipe out the competition as milling was big business until around the second world war.
It seems Edward and James Greey owned White Mill and Black Mill (on the opposite side of the railway track to White Mill) around the time of the Napoleonic War in 1784. Black Mill burnt down in the late 1800s and William Brown took over White Mill around the 1840’s after which the Stanley brothers took over in 1860 and their descendants worked White Mill until 1957 when it closed.
The Mills Archive has a wonderful picture of Thomas Stanley who was one of Stanley brothers who took over the mill in 1860. This is an amazing resource, you need to log in to see the full archive http://www.millsarchive.com.
Image Credit: White Mill, c.1910, Photographer Unknown. Copyright of Sandwich Guildhall Archives.