Nearly 400 years of silk production in Crayford, UK will end before the end of the year when the last mill closes with the loss of about 80 jobs. David Evans & Co has been dyeing, printing and finishing silk at its Crayford mills since 1843, continuing a tradition which dates back to the 1600s.

The site in Bourne Road, owned by Silk Industries, is up for sale and its silk finishing business will move to a smaller mill in Adamesley near Macclesfield in Cheshire, within the next six months.

The Crayford mill is the only one still operating in the south-east.

The company is now in talks with Bexley Heritage Trust, which runs nearby Hall Place, about the future of the silk museum which is also housed at the mills.

The shop will continue to sell the spring and summer collections of Irish designer Paul Costelloe and it is expected David Evans could remain on the site for up to 18 months.

A company spokesman said people now preferred to buy cheaper imports from the Far East. Among those said to be interested in buying the site is Sainsbury's.