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Headley Brothers printing site in Ashford demolished

One of a town's most historic businesses has been reduced to a pile of rubble.

Contractors moved in at the former Headley Brothers site in Lower Queens Road, Ashford, demolishing buildings which had housed the successful print business for decades.

Headley Brothers was founded in 1881 by brothers Herbert and Burgess Headley to print paper bags, bill heads and circulars for Ashford businesses.

The site has now been levelled. (7113128)
The site has now been levelled. (7113128)

The venture was such a success the brothers decided to launch a newspaper, releasing the Kent Examiner & Ashford Chronicle.

The business was based on the same site in Lower Queens Road, known as the Invicta Press, since a fire burned down its factory in Edinburgh Road in 1906.

In March 2017, the troubled firm was sold to Oxfordshire print business Henry Stones hours after tumbling into administration in a deal which rescued 113 jobs.

The Headley's reception was a familiar sight. Picture: David Fedder
The Headley's reception was a familiar sight. Picture: David Fedder
Where the former reception once stood. Picture: David Fedder
Where the former reception once stood. Picture: David Fedder

But in a unexpected move in November that year, the printing business closed for good just months after being taken over.

The specially-created subsidiary company - Stones Ashford - continued to operate in the factory until January 10 last year, when liquidators and creditors were brought in.

With demolition work levelling the buildings over the course of last week, it is currently unknown what will be built on the site.

Compositors at work in the Headley Brothers print shop in old times
Compositors at work in the Headley Brothers print shop in old times
David Fedder, who worked at Headley's for almost three decades, is "gutted" to see the demolition work
David Fedder, who worked at Headley's for almost three decades, is "gutted" to see the demolition work

David Fedder, who worked as a pre-press operative at Headley's for 27 years, said: "It was a wonderful, family-run company and up until two years ago it was still managed by direct descendants of the original founders.

"The director knew everyone's name, it was always busy and all the staff got on really well. There was just a great atmosphere.

"I'm absolutely gutted to see it now.

All the buildings in this picture from 2017 have been demolished. Picture: David Fedder
All the buildings in this picture from 2017 have been demolished. Picture: David Fedder
The site has now been levelled
The site has now been levelled

"For the company to start in 1881, there was a lot of history there.

"It was a big piece of the town's heritage and now it's just a pile of rubble - it's another piece of English history that's gone."

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