Cement Kilns


Barrington LogoEastwood's "Wellington Brand" logo. Eastwood's founder fought at the Battle of Waterloo. The real colour scheme is unknown. If you know the correct colours, please contact me.


  • Grid reference: TL3963550545
  • x=539635
  • y=250545
  • 52°8'8"N; 0°2'25"E
  • Civil Parish: Barrington, Cambridgeshire

Clinker manufacture operational: 7/1927-10/11/2008

Approximate total clinker production: 19.5 million tonnes (23rd)

Raw materials: quarry at 539300,251400 (Barrington and Haslingfield parishes) supplying (top to bottom):

  • Grey Chalk (Zig-zag Chalk Formation: 94-97 Ma)
  • Totternhoe Stone (Totternhoe Stone Member: 97 Ma)
  • Chalk Marl (West Melbury Marly Chalk Formation: 97-100 Ma)
  • Cambridge Greensand (Cambridge Greensand Member: 100 Ma)
  • Gault clay at base (Gault Formation: >100 Ma)


  • 1912-1924: Dreadnought Company
  • 1924-1962: Eastwoods Ltd
  • 1962-1979: Rugby Portland Cement Co. Ltd
  • 1979-2000: Rugby Group
  • February 2000 – March 2005: RMC
  • March 2005 to 2008: CEMEX

Barrington was unique among the Cam Valley plants in having relatively high grade Grey Chalk as well as Chalk Marl on site. The plant’s reserves were a hill capped with a Grey Chalk outlier, and consequently it was also unique in being able to operate a conventional free-draining quarry, instead of the valley-bottom pits operated by the other plants. Because it is now the only remaining complete section of the Lower Chalk in the area, the quarry is an SSSI.

The Dreadnought company was the most notorious example of the "promoter" era in Britain: it was formed as early as 1912 with a large marl land-holding and with the intention of setting up a Portland cement plant, and appeared in directories at that time as a manufacturer. However WWI and a lack of reliable funds meant that by 1922, no production plant had yet been constructed, and the company went into liquidation. It was an appreciating "paper asset" of Farrow's Bank, although it consisted of nothing more than the land originally purchased in 1912 and the power house. It was finally acquired by Eastwoods in 1924, and construction began: kiln A1 finally lit up in 1927, 15 years after the launch of the project. The power plant, being of pre-war construction, was entirely out of date by 1930. The power capacity was enhanced by installing waste heat boilers on Kilns 1 and 2 in 1931. The plant went on to be fairly consistently one of the least energy-efficient plants in the country, a cost entirely ameliorated by the extreme simplicity of the plant’s operation - the plant was usually Rugby's cheapest-to-run. Kilns A1-A3 were shut down and removed in 1991. The plant was very much one of the railway age, with its own privately-operated railway spur (run initially by a subsidiary – the Barrington Light Railway Co.), and a standard-gauge rail system in the quarry, finally replaced with dump trucks in 2005. Planning permission was sought in 2005 for a 54 × 4.5 m 4500 t/day crusher/drier/precalciner kiln located in the northeast of the worked out quarry area, there being 100 million tonnes of available raw material reserves under the hill extending 2.5 km westwards. This plan was formally abandoned in 2008 and the remaining kiln shut down on 10/11/2008.


The original plant had three 40kW 20' washmills in closed circuit with Clarke separators. The final arrangement (1964) had two identical 560 kW washmills followed by a re-grind ?tube mill.

Four rotary kilns were installed:

Kiln A1

Supplier: Vickers
Operated: 7/1927-1991
Process: Wet
Location: Hot end 539683,250681: Cold end 539641,250722: hot end enclosed.

  • 1927-1946 200'0" × 10'0½”B / 8’10½”CD (metric 59.74 × 3.061 / 2.705) with waste heat boiler from 1931.
  • 1946-1991 desiccator section added 196’0”× 10’0½”B / 8’10½”C / 13’0”D (metric 59.74 × 3.061 / 2.705 / 3.962)

Rotation (viewed from firing end): clockwise.
Slope: ?
Speed: 1 rpm
Drive: ?
Kiln profile:

  • 1927-1946: 0×2705: 3124×2705: 4191×3061: 15164×3061: 16231×2705: 60960×2705: Tyres at 2134, 17221, 35509, 53797
  • 1946-1991: 0×2705: 3124×2705: 4191×3061: 15164×3061: 16231×2705: 48247×2705: 51549×3962: 58255×3962: 59207×2477: 59741×2477: Tyres at 2134, 17221, 35509, 54178

Cooler: rotary 65' × 6'6" (metric 19.81 × 1.981) beneath kiln
Cooler profile: 0×1981: 19812×1981: Tyres at 4420, 15392
Coal Mill: initially indirect with a rotary drier and 225 kW Vickers ball mill shared by kilns 1 & 2: later British Rema ring-roller? mill
Typical Output: 1927-1946 186 t/d: 1947-1991 246 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1927-1946 10.3 MJ/kg: 1947-1991 8.23 MJ/kg

Kiln A2

Supplier: Vickers Armstrong
Operated: 1931-1991
Location: Hot end 539678,250675: Cold end 539635,250717: hot end enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A1.

Kiln A3

Operated: ?4/1956-1991
Location: Hot end 539672,250669: Cold end 539630,250712: hot end enclosed.
Rotation (viewed from firing end): anti-clockwise.
Identical in all other respects to later A2 format.

Kiln A4

Supplier: FLS
Operated: 23/5/1964 to 10/11/2008
Process: Wet
Location: Hot end (cooler ports) 539621,250460: Cold end 539590,250328: hot end enclosed.
Dimensions (from cooler ports): Metric 135.00 × 3.600BC / 3.950D
Rotation (viewed from firing end): anticlockwise
Slope: ?
Speed: 1.4 rpm
Drive: 186 kW
Kiln profile (from cooler ports): ?
Cooler: Unax planetary 10 × 11.50 × 1.400
Fuel: Coal, with some Petcoke from the 1990s.
Coal Mill: indirect: FLS Tirax ball mill
Exhaust: ID fan followed by two 3-field electrostatic precipitators in parallel.
Typical Output: 1965-1977 655 t/d: 1977-2008 729 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1965-1977 7.32 MJ/kg: 1977-2008 7.57 MJ/kg

Sources: Cook, pp 71, 115: Jackson, pp 212, 271, 277: Pugh, p 109: Website

© Dylan Moore 2011: commenced 01/03/2011: last edit 15/02/2017.

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Old Maps

Detail plan of the plant withheld while site remains active.

Approximate capacity: tonnes per year
Barrington Capacity

 GeoScenicP538709 ©NERC
Picture: ©NERC : British Geological Survey Cat. No. P538709. This is a view (early 1960s?) of kiln A3 from the firing floor. The rotary cooler can be seen below.

 GeoScenicP538713 ©NERC
Picture: ©NERC : British Geological Survey Cat. No. P538713. This is a view (early 1960s?) into the outlet of A1 rotary cooler. Clinker cascades through the stream of cold air being drawn in by the kiln overhead. Because the cooler "lifters" are fairly worn, the hot clinker can be seen falling into the cooler at the far end. Water is being squirted in, to aid the cooling action, at the expense of cooling and diluting the secondary air.

The early history of the plant site is obscure, and various accounts suggest that the plant was in operation before WWI. The Dreadnought Portland Cement Company was probably the most blatent of the fifteen "promoter" cement companies that sprung up between 1910 and 1939. Most of these were under-funded, and many failed until they were bailed out by larger companies, but none more so than Dreadnought. The best available information suggests the following:

In early 1914, Farrow's Bank bought the freehold 152 acre Hill Farm, for £6000. On 2 July 1914, at the instigation of the bank, the "Dreadnought Portland Cement Company Ltd." was floated with a nominal initial capital of £50,000, although only £20,000 was subscribed. Construction began, with Horace Boot & Partners as "consulting engineers". Horace Boot was effectively on the staff and was responsible to the Managing Director (Walter Forder) for construction. Walter Forder had been a colleague of Boot in his work in Kent utilities. Like the Sundon Forders, he came from Hampshire, but I have failed to confirm that he was related to them. However, in Hudson Earle's diary (27/02/1911), George Maxted told him he had heard that "Forders is building another Cement plant - site secret". Although an equipment supplier must have been selected, the identity of the supplier is unrecorded - it may have been Polysius. Horace Boot used them for South Ferriby 20 years later. Boot, who specialised in electrical generating plant, proceeded to build a power house. Various other minor items (see below) were constructed, but activity ceased altogether in 1915.

Activity having ceased, it was hard to re-start during war conditions, but the company obtained permission to recruit workforce in 1917. To build the rail spur from Foxton to the plant, a compulsory purchase order was required, since some of the landowners refused to sell. This required that the project be "in the public interest". On 23 January 1917, an inquiry was held into the application for the order: permission was denied. A second inquiry was held on 26 March 1919, in which much the same ground was covered, and this time permission was granted. A patriotic dog-whistle was employed - it was necessary to let the plant go ahead in order to avoid importing cement from Germany. The construction of the rail spur took place during 1920.

Little news of the project's progress became public, but testimony at the two inquiries throws some light on it. At the 1917 inquiry, Horace Boot said that they "had spent £20,000 already, and there was a large sum in contemplation". They had "built the power house and the contractors thought it best to leave the rest for the present moment". At the 1919 inquiry, Walter Forder said he had "spent on the place so far between £23,000 and £24,000". Counsel for the objectors commented that "they had not spent anything worth talking about since the last inquiry. The £23,000 included the purchase of the land".

Towards the end of 1920, an American potential investor in Farrow's Bank, performing a due diligence assessment, made public his dissatisfaction with their accounts, and on 20 December 1920, the bank "suspended payments" to account holders. Various officials of the Bank were arrested and tried for fraud. The Farrow's Bank failure became a major news story of 1921. Although many speculative ventures of the bank were involved, the Dreadnought company was absolutely central to the fraud. The bank had consistently made losses since 1909, but had disguised these by periodically "re-valuing" their investments by amounts sufficient to show a modest book profit every year. The cement plant, which was launched with a nominal £50,000 capital, and on which less than £40,000 had been spent, had by 1920 a book value of £780,000. The Dreadnought company was essentially owned by the bank, and it was compulsorily wound up on 1 March 1921.

The assets of the cement company were put up for sale on 27 November 1922, and the sale bill gives a snapshot of how much (or little) had been done.

Sale of
known as
LAND, eminently suitable for the manufacture of
Portland Cement,
with the substantially-built
SHAFT, 150ft. high,
concrete raft, brick wall, offices, mess-house, lime kiln,
farm buildings, and artesian well thereon.
built for the manager,
containing three sitting-rooms, six bedrooms, bath
(h. and c.), and good domestic offices; garage and
garden, the whole having an area of two acres.
about 1¼ miles in length.
connecting the works with the Great Eastern line
(Cambridge branch) at Foxton Station, together with
the land over which it runs, comprising an area of
about 19 acres, and the whole of the
of which it is constructed, consisting of approximately
14,900 ft of 75lb. steel rail, 7760ft. of 6-strand gal-
vanised wire fencing with reinforced concrete posts,
bridge with iron girders, and a large quantity of
sleepers, dogs, switches, points, slag, etc.
Possession of the whole, including the manager's house,
will be given on completion.
The attention of Cement Manufacturers, Builders, Steel
Manufacturers, and Speculators is directed to this
sale, as affording a great opportunity for enterprise
in the future.
The property only requires the installation of machin-
ery to make it a going concern, as most of the
spade-work has already been accomplished.

It is fairly clear that, after the small amount of construction had taken place, they "thought it best to leave the rest" because they had run out of money, and Farrow's certainly had nothing to offer them. If they were using German suppliers, the site engineers may have been interned, as happened at other locations. At least, they had built the palatial manager's house, in which Walter Forder had taken up residence. At the sale, evidently there were no takers. Lesley Cook says the East Anglian company looked at it, but they presumably realised that the cost of both the company and the "installation of machinery" (i.e. actually building a cement plant!) was way beyond their means.

Meanwhile, Eastwoods Ltd had been re-constituted in 1920. Horace Boot, who had been their "consulting engineer", became the vice-chairman and managing director of the new company. Eastwoods bought the Dreadnought assets from the liquidator for only £6000 in 1924. In August 1925, they floated "Eastwoods Cement Ltd", and started building the plant. The plant was largely supplied by Vickers, who were not in the cement equipment business before 1920. Start-up was in July 1927, 23 months after the new company floated, and 23 years after Dreadnought floated. Thomas Farrow, managing director of the bank, got four years in jail. Horace Boot got his knighthood. Dreadnought did not disappear: the Dreadnought Investment Trust Ltd (registered 1928, liquidated 1956) was used by Eastwoods to raise capital for various projects, including South Ferriby.

The single-kiln plant as finally constructed was the subject of a "Works Visit" in the Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 1931, to be found in Grace's Guide - (see article). They described it thus:


Barrington Works, which were designed by Messrs. Horace Boot and Partners, consulting engineers, were built in 1926, and commenced production in the summer of the following year. They are situated about eight miles from Cambridge, and excavate their raw material from Chapel Hill, which is composed of a deposit of "clunch" and has been used for many generations in the neighbourhood for building. The works employ the "wet" process.

The clunch is dug in the pit from a working face of 35 feet by a Ransomes and Rapier 0.75-yard steam-shovel which unloads into "jubilee" wagons. The latter are drawn up to three wash-mills by rope haulage and tipped directly into them. The mills consist of annular pits 20 feet in diameter. The drive is through a crown-wheel and pinion direct from a line-shaft driven by a 200 h.p. motor. The crown-wheel is mounted on a vertical shaft, by the operation of which steel harrows are dragged round in the "slurry." When it is fine enough it is beaten through the surrounding sieves, formed of perforated steel plates, and passes into a trough leading to three totally enclosed bucket elevators. Three Clarke's separators are employed to ensure that the fineness of the wet material shall be consistent, and any material that will not pass through the 0.75-millimetre screens returns to the wash-mills. From the separators the slurry passes down a chute into a 66-ft. diameter storage tank . To keep the lime content in the slurry constant a second 66-ft. diameter storage tank is used, and from this the kiln is fed.

Each tank is stirred mechanically by a mixer of the "Sun and Planet" type. Three-throw slurry pumps deliver the slurry from one mixer to the other, and to the kilns. The slurry fed to the kilns enters a spoon feeder controlled from the firing floor, and its amount fixes the output of the kiln. Each of the two kilns is 9 feet and 10 ft. 6 in. (note: it was 10'2" OD) diameter by 200 feet long, and is driven by a cast-steel spur-ring and pinion through four trains of gearing and a variable-speed motor. The speed can be raised from one-half to one revolution per minute according to the output required. The clinker is discharged into rotary coolers underneath in a white-hot state. The coolers are 6 ft. 6 in. diameter and 67 feet long (note: including 2' outlet grid). The air required for combustion in the kilns passes through the cascading clinker in these coolers and is thus preheated. The cool clinker is delivered into the boots of two chain-link bucket elevators, and passes into two storage bunkers above the cement mills. Beside these are the gypsum bunkers.

Both the gypsum and the clinker are fed into the mills by table feeders. The mills are of the combination type, with three grinding chambers loaded with steel balls. They have an output of 10 tons per hour each to a fineness well within the British Standard Specification. The cement mills are 7 feet in diameter by 36 feet long, with trunnion ends. The coal mill is similar to the cement mills, but is 6 feet in diameter by 30 feet long. It grinds a sufficient quantity of coal for firing both kilns. The powdered coal is blown into the kilns with hot air by variable-speed fans. Both the cement and coal mills are fitted with dust-collecting plants. The raw coal is dried in a rotary dryer 40 feet long, 6 feet in diameter. The hot air from the furnaces passes round the outside of the dryer drum and then through the centre.

After coming from the grinding mills the cement falls into the boots of two elevators of the chain-link bucket type, and is conveyed either to a battery of eight silos having a capacity of 5,000 tons, or across the road by a belt conveyer to a battery of five round silos holding 5,000 tons, and arranged for pneumatic extraction and bagging of the cement.

The works have their own power station, and generate electric power at 550 volts, three-phase, 50 cycles per second. Each unit is driven by a separate motor. Lighting and heating are provided for by three transformers at 200 volts, one in the power station, one in the cement mill, and the third on the kiln-firing platform. The boiler-house is provided with three Stirling five-drum type boilers stoked by Babcock and Wilcox travelling chain-grates. Steam is generated at 250 lb. per sq. in. and is superheated to 616° F. Each boiler is capable of evaporating 20,000 lb. of water per hour. The products of combustion are passed through a Green's ringstay economizer. The power units comprise two turbo-alternators and a standby alternator driven by a reciprocating compound double-valve engine. The works are served by the Barrington Light Railway, which extends to Foxton Station on the London and North Eastern Railway main line. The greater part of the line is practically straight, and where it passes over the river Cam a concrete viaduct 240 feet long has been built.

The maximum capacity of the works is 2,800 tons of cement per week.