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28 September 2023
The Papermaking session was an opportunity to drop in and have a go at making a piece of handmade paper with the former head papermaker from Empire Paper Mills, Greenhithe and award-winning print artist in residence, Dawn Cole.
About the event
Tony Thorley 82, started at Empire Paper Mill (Greenhithe) in 1955, aged 15. He took Reed company's papermaking training course, which lasted for 5 years & then worked his way up through the company to become production manager.
Kent-based artist Dawn Cole works primarily as a printmaker using numerous techniques that utilise personal archives and national collections to explore themes of recollection, memory and memorial.
Winner of the 2011 V&A Print Prize, Dawn also founded the Pushing Print Festival in Margate. Dawn was the first Artist-in-Residence in Canterbury Cathedral 1500 year history and has received several Arts Council England awards.
Empire Paper Mills Background
The Empire Paper Mills (formerly Ingress Abbey Paper Mills), constructed between 1906 and 1975. The Mill was located on the south bank of the Thames Estuary, in the northeastern corner of Ingress Park, the Formal Gardens and Park associated with Ingress Abbey. It closed down in 1993. The site is now being redeveloped as part of a housing development.
Other points of interest: The paper making process uses vast amounts of water and to supply the mill two wells were sunk inland. One was at Greenhithe, but the main well was sunk at Southfleet, 2km inland from the mill, from which water was pumped to a holding reservoir of half a million gallons capacity, between the well and the mill. From this reservoir it was pumped into the complex as required. Fire prevention was of paramount importance, hence the steel framed structure and concrete floors. The mill was also fitted with self-closing fire doors. In addition the mill was provided with a fire pump house, hydrants, sprinklers and latterly its own fire engine, housed in a garage close to the pump house.
Attention was also paid to the quality of life of the workers. A model housing estate was erected to the south of the mill, which still survives as the Knockhall estate. The mill itself was provided with catering and dining facilities, recreation grounds and gardens (although the latter are not located, the mill's position within the grounds of Ingress Park and Gardens suggest an answer to this). The Mill appears to have been plainly decorated for most of its life, although there was some evidence of a 'corporate colour scheme' of green and white, when the Mill was owned by Reed Group.
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