When first we moved to Ashford, we got some chickens. We’ve had varying numbers, depending upon the habits of urban foxes; currently, we have three. Unnamed.
Now I have to be endlessly inventive with eggs.
This was my breakfast last Saturday.
So, eggs are easy to come by in our household. And flour used to be a local commodity too.
Henry Sturgess Pledge, who built this mill in East Hill, had been apprenticed at the Black Mill in Barham in 1850, before going on to manage the wind, steam and water mills at Kennington until 1892. In 1890 he founded a milling and corn merchant company with his two sons: Lawrence John Pledge and Walter Ebeneser Pledge, owning two mills in Ashford: Victoria Mill (near the station, but destroyed by an arson fire in 1984) and East Hill Mill above.
A succession of mills have been on this same site since at least as far back as the Domesday Book in 1086. Parts of the existing building date back to 1864.
East Hill Mill was a water mill and steam mill, run by Lawrence Pledge, son of Henry, who lived at the mill with his wife, Ellen, and six children.
The Pledges also owned a very successful seed and corn merchant business called Worger & Co. on Ashford High Street, which had been in existence since 1830.
At any one time, the business employed 70 people from the local area, running a fleet of lorries in their familiar livery of primrose and red. They also had a large agricultural business, providing feedstuffs to farms in Kent and Sussex.
The milling and corn merchant company finally went out of business after the fire at Victoria Mill. But for 83 years, the Pledge company was an important local employer, serving local farms and shops.
For some years, until 2014, the mill was a nightclub: Liquid and Envy. But with its peaceful spot by the river, right next to North Park, it would make a fantastic restaurant and arts venue. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops under Ashford’s Heritage Strategy (which extends to 2030).
Walking the dog today, once again, around Ashford Cemetery, I came across these Pledge gravestones.
Eggs at the beginning of this blog post; gravestones at the end. I think that’s called the ‘cycle of life’.