May 06, 2018

07/05/2018: Daren Mills Dartford, Kent

by Mildred Cookson, The Mills Archive, UK

Mildred Cookson
According to The Miller (November 3, 1913) the Daren Mills in Dartford were purchased a number of years previously by Mr SK Keyes, and fitted up with the most modern milling machinery of the day.

The mills were close to Dartford Railway Station and on the navigable River Darent some two miles above where it joins the River Thames. Described as "that great water highway to the metropolis and so occupying a most advantageous position, being able to obtain their supplies of foreign and Colonial wheat by barges direct from the London docks".

In 1909, the business had been registered as a private company when Mr Hubert Keyes, brother of the head of the firm, became a director. His eldest son, Captain Reginald Keyes who in his spare time, out of business hours, was a captain of the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment, assisted

Mr SK Keyes, who was then a Governing Director, in active management. Mr SK Keyes had felt that his mills were not quite as up to date as they could be and considered the best way to improve and enlarge them, so a few years previously in about 1906, he had made an extended trip to Canada and the USA to visit a number of the newest mills there. He said he saw nothing on the other side of the Atlantic to approach European mills, either with regard to process or machinery, so he visited the Continent and inspected flour mills there, with the result that he placed the order when he got back to remodel his mill with Messrs Amme, Giesecke and Konegen of Brunswick and 59 Mark Lane London, to their widely advertised plansifter system. He placed the order with their London manager Mr JE Speight. Mr Keyes took the advice of the engineers and added another storey to his mill, making it seven storeys. The top room was a fine handsome lofty apartment in contrast to the lower rooms which all had less height than usual.

Nine of the latest pattern ‘Ageka’ self-balancing plansifters were installed on the top floor. This plant performed all the scalping, grading and dressing. As seen in the illustration, seven of the plansifters were in a line on the side of the room next to the elevators, and two were on the opposite side, where space was left to install more of these machines when it became necessary to increase the capacity of the mills.

The Miller reported it was a pleasure to admire the smooth, even gyrations of these novel self-balancing plansifters, and be able to study the products coming from them. One of their leading features enabled coarse material to be removed before actual flour dressing was attempted. For example, the first break stock went on to the one section of a plansifter and the broken wheat was first tailed over to the second break. The next material to be removed was the small broken wheat, which went to the fine second break.

Read the full article, HERE.

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