Aylesford is a village and local parish on the River Medway in Kent, England, situated around four miles northwest of Maidstone.
Formerly a small riverside town, the old village includes about 60 houses, once shops. Two pubs, a village shop and additional amenities including a hairdresser, estate agent, two restaurants, a chiropodist and a coffee shop are established on the high street. Aylesford’s modern community is around 5,000.
The Parish of Aylesford includes more than seven square miles. The area extends north to Rochester Airport estate and south to Barming. It has a total population of over 10,000. The central settlements are at Aylesford, Eccles, Blue Bell Hill and a portion of Walderslade.
Aylesford Newsprint was a long-established influential employer in the region and was the most comprehensive paper recycling factory in Europe. However, back in 2015, Aylesford Paper Mill was closed down and stripped of all its assets as it was known by local residents.
The earliest parts of the village sprawl north and directly south of the river. Many of the buildings are of high antiquity, the Chequers Inn and the George House and the almshouses. St Peter and St Paul’s church, sections of which date back to the Norman intrusion, rests on a hill in the southern province of the village. During the Victorian era, a significant development occurred when houses were constructed to assist the nearby quarry. The brick and tile trades have been superseded by a large area of commercial buildings. The large Aylesford paper mills site was previously regenerated by a leading newsprint plant encompassed by newly generated private estates featuring high-value accommodation.
Recent development has been to the southern side of the river. A large suburban housing estate has grown, notably because the village is served by the railroad, with links for Maidstone and London. Many of these homes were initially owned by workers of the paper mills, which are now closed. Several more modest industrial estates are now present with many specialist businesses that cover engineering, manufacturing, wholesale and others.
Despite the above, the village has not lost its original integrity and is a favourite place for visitors.