Cement Kilns

Bevans

Bevans Northfleet Pyramid Brand cement logoBevans Pyramid Brand.

Location:

  • Grid reference: TQ62087480
  • x=562080
  • y=174800
  • 51°26'56"N; 0°19'57"E
  • Civil Parish: Northfleet, Kent

Clinker manufacture operational: 1853-1921, 1926-1970

Approximate total clinker production: 23.6 million tonnes (16th)

Raw materials:

  • Upper Chalk (Seaford Chalk Formation: 85-88 Ma) from successively more distant quarries:
    • 1853: 562100,174500
    • 1890: 561900,174300
    • 1905: 560900,174200 (Swanscombe parish)
    • 1925: 561200,173700 (Swanscombe) and 562200,173600 (Northfleet)
    • 1940: 561500,173200 (Swanscombe) and 562700,173500 (Northfleet)
    • 1960: 560000,173500 (Swanscombe)
  • Various clays:
    • 1853: Medway Alluvial Clay
    • 1925: Alkerden London Clay (London Clay Formation: 48-55 Ma) 560200,173100 (Swanscombe) slurried at the clay quarry and pumped to the main washmills at the chalk quarry.
    • 1940: Cliffe Alluvium 571400,177100, brought as slurry by barge.

Ownership:

This plant was the fifth on the Thames, and became second only to Swanscombe in size during the 19th and early 20th century. It is reasonable to consider its launch as a “spoiler” orchestrated by William Aspdin when he fell out with his partners at Robins. Thomas Sturge was a prominent shipping owner at Northfleet, and his cousin's son was installed as an engineer at Robins in 1851. Bevans was subsequently erected on identical lines on what was previously a brickfield immediately adjacent to Robins on the east. Aspdin then left them to it. Sturge’s local influence allowed the plant to secure a huge swathe of chalk land to the south, boxing in the Robins reserves.

The plant seems to have made little attempt to innovate in the pre-APCM period, using wet process bottle kilns throughout, with some 3 Ha of slurry backs and drying flats, although in the later period the latter were partially heated by kiln exhaust gases. In 1864 there were 17 kilns, making 340 t/week, and by 1897 the number had risen to 79, making 1700 t/week. A further ten (300 t/week) had been added by 1903, when approximately half of the kilns were demolished to make way for the rotary kilns: the rest were decommissioned by 1912. The plant was the second largest (after Swanscombe) in the new combine and, with ample reserves, it was earmarked for expansion. Rotary kiln installation followed shortly after the formation of APCM (see article). The original rotary kilns were up-rated around 1910, but were cleared in 1922 to make way for much larger kilns, the largest APCM installation of the time, in the 1920s. Because of the plant’s cramped site, the up-rate could only be accomplished by complete shutdown and demolition of the previous kilns, which took five years, and necessitated desperate measures on the part of Blue Circle to maintain supply, with many mothballed static kilns being reinstated in the Thames/Medway area. For a short time after the uprate, Bevans was the largest UK plant, from 1927 (overtaking Swanscombe) to 1929 (after which it was overtaken by Johnsons). Kilns A1-A3 were the largest in Britain until overtaken by Johnsons A6 and A7 in 1929. With massive raw material reserves, the plant remained one of Blue Circle’s base-load operations for forty years. Kiln B1 was modified for semi-wet process with a Davis preheater in 1957, but this was relatively unsuccessful, and shut down in 1967. The rest of the plant shut down in 1970, with much of the cement handling and wharfage kept in use, incorporated into the adjacent Northfleet site.

The plant never had any rail link, and used the river for most of its transportation, maintaining the best deep water jetty on the south bank. For much of its later history it was Blue Circle's main exporting plant. One of the Robins kilns of the 1870s (and not an earlier Aspdin kiln as claimed), much restored, is available for view and is a scheduled building. The most recent (late 1950s) kiln stack remained until demolished as part of the Northfleet clearance on 31/1/2010.

Read a description of the plant after its post-WWI upgrade in a 1928 article.

Rawmills

Washmills were always used. In the early plant, the mills were on the quay, but were quite soon relocated to a point to the south of the kilns on the incoming chalk tramway. In both instances, the clay was delivered by barge at the quay in an “as dug” state. The 1920s plant had washmills in the quarry south of Northfleet at 561570,173980, fed with chalk brought by rail from the quarry and clay slurry washmilled at Alkerden and pumped from there (~2 km). The main washmill system consisted of two parallel lines of mills, used alternately, each consisting of a rough mill, a secondary mill, a coarse screener and a fine screener, powered by common 448 kW drives. Finished slurry was pumped 1.4 km to the plant. With the exhaustion of the Alkerden pit, clay was once again delivered to the quay, this time as slurry prepared at Cliffe, which was received in a tank from which it was pumped up to the washmills.

Sixteen rotary kilns were installed, in two stages:

Kiln A1

Supplier: Fellner & Ziegler
Operated: 1904-1921
Process: Wet
Location: hot end 562066,174826: cold end 562056,174794: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions:

  • 1904-1906: 70'0”× 6’3½” (metric 21.34 × 1.918)
  • 1906-1921: 110’0”× 6’3½”CD (metric 33.53 × 1.918)

Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile:

  • 1904-1906: 0×1918: 21336×1918: Tyres at 2794, 10185, 18110
  • 1906-1921: 0×1918: 33528×1918: Tyres at 914, 6756, 14986, 22377, 30302

Cooler: rotary 48’0”× 4’10½” (metric 14.63 × 1.486) beneath firing floor
Cooler profile: 0×1486: 14630×1486: Tyres at 1524, 11278
Fuel: Coal
Coal Mill: all twelve kilns indirect fired using common coal milling system - Griffin mills?
Exhaust: direct to stack.
Typical Output: 1904-1906 37 t/d: 1906-1921 53 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1904-1906 10.5 MJ/kg: 1906-1921 9.4 MJ/kg


Kiln A2

Location: hot end 562070,174825: cold end 562060,174793: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions:

  • 1904-1906: 70'0”× 6’3½” (metric 21.34 × 1.918)
  • 1906-1921: 110’0”× 8’10¼”B / 6’3½”CD (metric 33.53 × 2.699 / 1.918)

Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile:

  • 1904-1906: 0×1918: 21336×1918: Tyres at 2794, 10185, 18110
  • 1906-1921: 0×2699: 6121×2699: 6121×1918: 33528×1918: Tyres at 914, 6756, 14986, 22377, 30302

Typical Output: 1904-1906 37 t/d: 1906-1921 63 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1904-1906 10.5 MJ/kg: 1906-1921 9.50 MJ/kg
Identical in all other respects to A1


Kiln A3

Location: hot end 562075,174823: cold end 562063,174785: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions:

  • 1904-1910: 70'0”× 6’3½” (metric 21.34 × 1.918)
  • 1910-1921: 130’0”× 8’10¼”B / 6’3½”CD (metric 39.62 × 2.699 / 1.918)

Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile:

  • 1904-1910: 0×1918: 21336×1918: Tyres at 2794, 10185, 18110
  • 1910-1921: 0×1734: 1118×1734: 4229×2699: 9779×2699: 12217×1918: 39624×1918: Tyres at 1651, 12852, 21082, 28473, 36398

Typical Output: 1904-1910 37 t/d: 1910-1921 72 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1903-1910 10.5 MJ/kg: 1910-1921 9.2 MJ/kg
Identical in all other respects to A2


Kiln A4

Operated: 1904-1921
Location: hot end 562079,174822: cold end 562067,174784: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A3


Kiln A5

Operated: 1904-1921
Location: hot end 562083,174820: cold end 562072,174783: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A3


Kiln A6

Operated: 1904-1921
Location: hot end 562088,174819: cold end 562076,174781: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A3


Kiln A7

Operated: 1905-1921
Location: hot end 562092,174818: cold end 562080,174780: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A3


Kiln A8

Operated: 1905-1921
Location: hot end 562097,174816: cold end 562085,174779: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A3


Kiln A9

Operated: 1906-1921
Location: hot end 562101,174818: cold end 562089,174777: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to the extended form of A3


Kiln A10

Operated: 1908-1921
Location: hot end 562105,174814: cold end 562093,174776: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A9


Kiln A11

Operated: 1912-1921
Location: hot end 562110,174812: cold end 562098,174774: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A9


Kiln A12

Operated: 1913-1921
Location: hot end 562114,174811: cold end 562102,174773: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A9


Kiln B1

Supplier: Vickers
Operated: 23/3/1926-17/11/1967
Process: Wet: converted to semi-wet (Davis Preheater) commencing 17/09/1959
Location: hot end 562072,174827: cold end 562049,174755: from 1959 562055,174773: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions: 250’0”× 11’4”B/ 10’1½”CD (metric 76.20 × 3.454 / 3.086): shortened to 187’10⅝” (57.27 m) in 1959.
Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile:

  • 1926-1959: 0×2540: 3962×3454: 15545×3454: 16764×3086: 76200×3086: Tyres at 2134, 17831, 33071, 50521, 67970
  • 1959-1967: 0×2540: 3962×3454: 15545×3454: 16764×3086: 56407×3086: 57017×2400: 57267×2400: Tyres at 2134, 17831, 33071, 50521

Cooler: rotary 92’0”× 9’10¾”/ 8’10¾”/ 6’3¾” (metric 28.04 × 3.016 / 2.711 / 1.924) beneath kiln
Cooler profile: 0×3016: 6325×3016: 7557×2711: 12967×2711: 15418×1924: 28042×1924: Tyres at 5664, 22022.
Fuel: 1926-1959 Coal: 1959-1967 Oil
Coal Mill: as installed, kilns B1-B4 were indirect fired, fine coal being supplied by six British Rema ring-roll mills.
Exhaust: originally direct to stack. An ID fan was introduced in the early 1930s, and an electrostatic precipitator was added in the late 1950s.
Typical Output: 1926-1931 369 t/d: 1932-1959 374 t/d: 1959-1967 419 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1926-1931 8.66 MJ/kg: 1932-1940 8.03 MJ/kg: 1941-1959 7.17 MJ/kg: 1959-1967 5.00 MJ/kg


Kiln B2

Supplier: Vickers
Operated: 22/6/1926-30/11/1970
Process: Wet
Location: hot end 562087,174823: cold end 562064,174750: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions: 250’0”× 11’4”B/ 10’1½”CD (metric 76.20 × 3.454 / 3.086)
Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile: 0×2540: 3962×3454: 15545×3454: 16764×3086: 76200×3086: Tyres at 2134, 17831, 33071, 50521, 67970
Cooler: rotary 92’0”× 9’10¾”/ 8’10¾”/ 6’3¾” (metric 28.04 × 3.016 / 2.711 / 1.924) beneath kiln
Cooler profile: 0×3016: 6325×3016: 7557×2711: 12967×2711: 15418×1924: 28042×1924: Tyres at 5664, 22022.
Fuel: 1926-1959 Coal: 1959-1967 Oil: 1967-1970 mixed firing, 22% Oil
Coal Mill: see B1
Exhaust: originally direct to stack. An ID fan was introduced in the early 1930s, and an electrostatic precipitator was added in the late 1950s.
Typical Output: 1926-1931 359 t/d: 1932-1959 368 t/d: 1959-1967 359 t/d: 1968-1970 321 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1926-1931 8.72 MJ/kg: 1932-1940 7.96 MJ/kg: 1941-1959 7.24 MJ/kg: 1959-1967 7.88 MJ/kg: 1968-1970 8.19 MJ/kg


Kiln B3

Operated: 16/8/1926-30/11/1970
Location: hot end 562101,174818: cold end 562078,174745: entirely enclosed.
Typical Output: 1926-1931 357 t/d: 1932-1959 375 t/d: 1959-1968 362 t/d: 1968-1970 324 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1926-1931 8.85 MJ/kg: 1932-1940 8.06 MJ/kg: 1941-1959 7.16 MJ/kg: 1959-1968 7.72 MJ/kg: 1968-1970 8.17 MJ/kg
Identical in all other respects to B2


Kiln B4

Supplier: FLS
Operated: ?12/1927 - 30/11/1970
Process: Wet
Location: hot end 562114,174808: cold end 562088,174725: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions (from cooler ports): an enlarged backend was installed in 1936, removed 1954?

  • 1927-1936 Metric 85.81×3.150B/2.550CD
  • 1936-1954? Metric 85.34×3.150B/2.550C/4.115D
  • 1954?-1970 Metric 86.69×3.150B/2.550CD

Rotation (viewed from firing end): anticlockwise
Slope: 1/25 (2.292°)
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile (from cooler ports):

  • 1927-1936: -2188×3150: 22828×3150: 25267×2550: 85812×2550: tyres at 2207, 14094, 30299, 51899, 74698, 83677: turning gear at 33299
  • 1936-1954?: -2188×3150: 22828×3150: 25267×2550: 75850×2550: 78898×4115: 81432×4115: 84480×2550: 85344×2550: tyres at 2207, 14094, 30299, 51899, 74698, 83677: turning gear at 33299
  • 1954?-1970: -2188×3150: 22828×3150: 25267×2550: 86693×2550: tyres at 2207, 14094, 30299, 51899, 74698, 83677: turning gear at 33299

Cooler: Unax planetary 13 × 4.11 × 0.880
Fuel: 1927-1959 Coal: 1959-1967 Oil: 1967-1970 mixed firing, 22% Oil
Coal Mill: see B1
Exhaust: originally via ID fan direct to stack. An electrostatic precipitator was added in the late 1950s.
Typical Output: 1927-1931 242 t/d: 1932-1940 258 t/d: 1941-1959 265 t/d: 1959-1968 251 t/d: 1968-1970 217 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1927-1931 7.79 MJ/kg: 1932-1940 7.23 MJ/kg: 1941-1959 7.01 MJ/kg: 1959-1968 7.33 MJ/kg: 1968-1970 7.85 MJ/kg



Sources: Eve, p 18: Francis, pp 163-166: Jackson, pp 214, 273: Pugh, pp 50, 88-89, 106-108, 263: “Bevans Cement Works, Northfleet”, Cement and Cement Manufacture, 1, 1928, pp 21-28, 48-55, 69-74: “Fifty Years of Mechanisation in the Cement Industry”, Cement and Cement Manufacture, 20, 1947, pp 59-74.

Read the description of the plant after its post-WWI upgrade in the 1928 article.


© Dylan Moore 2011: commenced 17/07/2011: last edit 05/07/2017.

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Old Maps

A detail plan of the plant has been partially completed, but further progress is prevented by lack of information on the layout of the earlier plant.

Approximate capacity: tonnes per year
Bevans clinker capacity

Bevans 1927 view from south
Picture: ©English Heritage - NMR Aerofilms Collection. Catalogue number 17642. A high-definition version can be obtained from English Heritage. This was taken on 26/4/1927, viewed from the south. Kilns B1-B3 had been started up in the previous year, and the plant was now the largest in Britain, with much of its product exported. The washmills, originally in the bottom-right of the picture, had been moved a mile southward to the quarry. The new kilns had been installed in the old kiln house (beyond the stacks), but being longer, were extended over the road which still extended left to right through the centre of the plant. The finish mills were also replaced, with "combination" mills instead of ball- and tube-mill sets previously used. This was the first British mill installation to be designed with Fuller-Kinyon pumps to move the product across the plant to the silos. The latter were new, and an early example of a design that later became standard. Major modifications were made to the wharf, allowing larger ships (15,000 T) at all tides. On-site power generation was abandoned, and power was obtained, in these pre-grid days, from Barking power station. The six slurry tanks were those of the older plant with no modification, and the remains of old slurry backs can still be seen in the bottom-left.

Bevans 1927 view from west Picture: ©English Heritage - NMR Aerofilms Collection. Britain from Above reference number EPW017640.
Britain from Above features some of the oldest and most valuable images of the Aerofilms Collection, a unique and important archive of aerial photographs. You can download images, share memories, and add information. By the end of the project in 2014, 95,000 images taken between 1919 and 1953 will be available online.
This was taken on 26/4/1927 and shows the plant from the northwest. View in High Definition.