The village of Aylesham is situated between Canterbury and Dover on an area that was open farm land prior to 1927. Coal was discovered in Kent at the end of the 19th Century and in 1912 the first coal was raised at the surface of Snowdown Colliery.
During this time there was a rapid expansion in the Kent Coalfield and in an effort not to distort the surrounding communities it was decided to build a new ‘town’ of Aylesham, between Snowdown Colliery and a proposed new shaft at Adisham.
Following the economic depression and general strike of 1926 in support of the miners, many miners who were in danger of losing their jobs in their local areas of North East England, Scotland and Wales traveled south to Kent in search of a future. A new community evolved in the village as miners’ families migrated from their traditional mining areas with the mining culture bringing diverse communities together to form a common bond and unique settlement.
Aylesham was originally developed to a master-plan designed by Sir Patrick Abercrombie in 1928, with the intention of it becoming a small town of approximately 15,000 residents with a range of commercial, community and civic buildings. Due to the recession of the 1930s, Abercombie’s vision was never realised and only 500 dwellings and a few community facilities were originally built to provide homes and services for the miners and families of Snowdown Colliery.
The village is still largely inhabited by the same families and through the newer generations Aylesham has retained much of the culture and traditions brought by parents and grandparents. The community has also developed a unique accent which has been derived through a combination of traces of Northern, Scottish, Welsh and a mixture of Kentish dialects.
Over the years the village has expanded and whilst the key elements of the original plan are still evident much of the coherence of the layout has been lost. The current total number of dwellings is approximately 1800 housing a population of around 4800, but since the closure of Snowdown Colliery the village has suffered decline.
To view some of the sights of the past visit the Aylesham Heritage Center Facebook page
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