Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Lost Powder Mills of Leigh....


Anyone ever been for a walk or a cycle ride along the path from Tonbridge park via Barden Lake and then over to Powder Mills? Did you know that, as you reach the end of the track and go onto the road near the Glaxo site, you are close to a bit of important military history? Some claim that without the gunpowder mills, which were on that site, we would not have won the Battle of Waterloo. So we could all now be eating loads of garlic and drinking wine, (ok we do do that) but we don't say ooh la la and have squatty toilets do we! Yes Powder Mills, or The Ramhurst Mill, as it was known in 1812 on it's opening is a great historic building. I say "building" but actually there's not much left of it after it was very efficiently demolished about 70 years ago. As many as a dozen workers died, I would imagine quite horribly, during its 140 years manufacturing some of the finest gunpowder on the planet. How do I know all about this? Because I went to a talk and film by the Leigh Historical Society, hosted by the Tonbridge Civic Society, last night. They have published a book, pictured, all about the mills, their social and economic importance to the area and about the conservation work they are helping to carry out, funded by a very substantial Heritage Lottery funding. Yes you can order copies of the book at Mr. Books, Bank Street for a mere £19.95, signed by the author, Chris Rowley, no less if you're quick. He tells me that the book cost around £60 per copy to produce, given the low print run, so grab one before the price goes up....

10 comments:

petrolstationvillage said...

If we did win the Battle of Waterloo, then at least we would get better cycle paths.

Looks an interesting book. Let us know what other local books you have.

petrolstationvillage said...

£19.95.. .how come local books are so expensive?!

Some local books are over £25.. what a rip off.

TonbridgeR said...

£19.95 is rather a high price. I am afraid I won't be buying it with my hard earned cash. However I am sure it is very interesting especially the myth about the Battle of Waterloo. I suppose the book is a another step forward to help legitimise the myth. Interesting stuff. Did the publishing costs come out of the Heritage funding too? Hopefully they will donate a copy to the Reference Library at Tonbridge so that us locals can get a read of it.

Tonbridge blogger said...

Expensive or not I've sold all the copies I had in stock and now need to contact the author to get more. Chris Rowley has been invited to the West Kent Book Fair, to be held at Tonbridge School on March 29th, to talk to any body who's interested in the subject and to sign copies of his book. So maybe those among you who consider £19.95too much can go along and have a peek. Personally I think all that information, especially considering all the painstaking work and research involved in its production, is a bargain at the price. But then again I, as a bookseller, would say that wouldn't I....

TonbridgeR said...

Yes of course you would think it is a good price being in the bookshop trade. I would imagine the interest has come from local people who can relate to the area, especially to the Power Mills. I am sure a lot of work has gone into research etc. but the author would embark on it if he didn't find it interesting and worthwhile for himself too. It's always valuable to have local history documented and as mentioned before I hope a copy is donated to the library by some good fellow. As for it being a bargain I disagree - it's probably a good read so I may thumb through a copy at the Book Fair. Good marketing mate!!!!!

petrolstationvillage said...

I'd probably thumb through it if it was at the library too, that's even if they can afford it. I hope someone will give them a copy too. With prices of books like that it is a matter of time before the libraries themselves go and books are all read cheaply on the internet or on a computer. I really think local people are being ripped off. Maybe the solicitors and dentists here can afford it but it is a big chunk if you are on low wages in Tonbridge or on a pension and you didn't work as a company director with all the bonuses. At the very least he could offer locals a discount at the bookfair.

Anonymous said...

How many pages does this book actually have? I have here a thick local book that has 251 pages and it is only £8.00 full price. Suprisingly it is quite 'reasonable'.

Maybe if the book was the size of Encyclopedia Britannia it will be a bargain as you call it...

Stoatbeak said...

Well yeah .... aprox 3.2 pence a page.
Not sure if a book's worth should be judged by a page count ... Just look at "Dune" years ago

petrolstationvillage said...

No discount to Tonbridge Blog readers? Charming!

Anonymous said...

You are an ignorant and unkind lot. Have you no idea what it costs to produce this sort of book, which is limited in appeal and so will sell only a few copies. Yu don't have to buy it, but those with an interest in powder mills will think it well worth the money. I wrote as one who has no stake in this matter, lives at the other end of the country, and wanted to find out more about small localised powder mills