Some 38 mills are considered to have operated along the Darent and its tributaries and included paper mills, corn and flour mills, gunpowder mills, iron slitting and brass mills, breweries and a cotton mill. These all provided local employment, expanding the villages and in turn enabled the exploitation of natural resources. The result was that the River Darent itself was manipulated and its course much changed to provide the heads of water to supply the mills. It also enabled the land beside the river to be used in new ways and consequently shaped the valley’s landscape.
The gunpowder mill, just south of Dartford on Powdermill Lane and powered by the Darent operated from 1732 through to the early 20th century, when the powder magazines at Dartford became the most extensive in the country.