History in Structure

Chimney at Springfield Mill

A Grade II Listed Building in Maidstone, Kent

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Latitude: 51.2817 / 51°16'54"N

Longitude: 0.5182 / 0°31'5"E

OS Eastings: 575715

OS Northings: 156626

OS Grid: TQ757566

Mapcode National: GBR PR0.RS4

Mapcode Global: VHJMD.X1SS

Plus Code: 9F327GJ9+M7

Entry Name: Chimney at Springfield Mill

Listing Date: 11 September 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1428651

ID on this website: 101428651

Location: Ringlestone, Maidstone, Kent, ME14

County: Kent

District: Maidstone

Electoral Ward/Division: North

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Maidstone

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Tagged with: Chimney

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Mill chimney. Built in 1837 to replace an earlier chimney of c1809 on the same site. The connected main mill building is not included in the listing.


Mill chimney. Built in 1837 by William Balston to replace an earlier chimney of c1809 on the same site.

MATERIALS: yellow stock brick, laid in header bond.

DESCRIPTION: the tall circular chimney is located near the eastern boundary wall of Springfield Mill. It has a pronounced taper and the upper courses are reinforced with four later iron bands. It is connected to the main mill building to the west by an underground flue some 150m in length. This was not inspected (2015) and is not included in the listing.


Paper making developed as a major industry in the Maidstone area from the late C17 due to the suitability of the River Len for water-power and its proximity to London, the major market for paper and source of rags, its raw material. There were seven functioning paper mills between 1671 and 1700 and by 1733 there were 14 mills. By 1865 this number had increased to around 40.

Springfield Mill, the first paper mill to be successfully powered solely by steam, was founded in 1805 by William Balston (1759-1849). Balston had been apprenticed in 1774 to James Whatman II (1741-1798), owner of Turkey Mill and one of the most successful paper makers of the C18. By 1794, when Whatman sold Turkey Mill, Balston was his principal subordinate and he entered into partnership with the new owners to form Hollingworths and Balston with a loan of £5,000 from Whatman. The outbreak of war with France in 1793 had cut off the import of superior French paper and the new firm prospered. By 1805 Balston had decided to open his own steam-powered mill on the banks of the Medway at a site with a spring providing the clean water necessary for the paper making process. The new mill, with its 36 horse-power Boulton & Watt beam engine powering a Hollander (the machine which broke down the rags into a pulp) opened at the end of 1807. Running for 440 ft, parallel with the River Medway, it consisted of a Drying Room at the north and Rag Room at the south with rooms for the various processes, and the engine and its boilers, set between them. The beam engine remained in use until decommissioned in 1896-7.

The original chimney was located in the mill itself but as pollution from the chimney affected the paper a new chimney was built in the present position c1809. This chimney, however, fell into disrepair after problems with the flue meant use transferred back to the original chimney. The current chimney was rebuilt in 1837 and remained in use until the beam engine was de-commissioned. A later extension to the top of chimney was removed in early 2015.

Reasons for Listing

The chimney at Springfield Mill, Maidstone, rebuilt in 1837 on the site of an earlier chimney of c1809, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reason:
* Architectural interest: as a good example of a mid-C19 industrial chimney, few examples of which survive in Kent;
* Historic interest: Springfield Mill was the first paper mill in the world to be successfully powered by steam and the chimney, although not the original, is an evocative reminder of this fact.

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