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The History of Kent

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History of Chislet

Chislet comes from the Old English ‘cistelet’ meaning a ‘chestnut copse’. The Domesday Book records Chislet as Cistelet.

Chislet church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin. The Normans built the church in the 12th century, with additions and extensions in the following 200 years. There is a record of four bells in 1608. In 1729, Samuel Knight recast the four bells, with additional metal, into a ring of six.

A mill with wooden machinery and powered by wind driving three pairs of stones dates to 1765. In 1916, strong winds blew the roof off, when repaired they installed a paraffin engine. The army used the mill as an aircraft lookout post in the 1914/18 war, before its closure in 1919. Fire destroyed the mill on 15th September 2005.

Chislet Colliery stood next to the Canterbury - Margate road, north east of Canterbury. Work began on the site with the sinking of two shafts in 1914 after the Anglo-Westphalian Kent Coalfield Limited discovered coal in mineable quantities near the village.

The involvement of the Germans caused questions to be asked in the House of Commons and, in 1914, the local director, Herr Willi Perits, became a "guest of the nation" at Alexandra Palace. The company changed its name in November of that year, becoming North Kent Coalfield Limited. During the war, the colliery encountered severe labour shortages. They again changed the name of the colliery, which began producing coal in 1918, to
Chislet Colliery Ltd.

The village of
Chislet grew up around the pit to accommodate the majority of the miners, who mostly came from Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Lanarkshire, Northumberland, Durham and Wales. Initially, many of them lived in Ramsgate and Margate, commuting by special trains, first to Grove Ferry Station, then to Chislet Colliery Halt.

Chislet continued to produce coal through the miners' strikes of the 1920s and the Second World War. It also survived nationalisation in 1947 and continued production until closure on 25th July 1969.