Cam Blue Lias

Location:

  • Grid reference: TL3846546895
  • x=538465
  • y=246895
  • 52°6'11"N; 0°1'18"E
  • Civil Parish: Meldreth, Cambridgeshire

Clinker manufacture operational: 1891-1926

Approximate total clinker production: 175,000 tonnes

Raw materials: Chalk Marl (West Melbury Marly Chalk Formation: 97-100 Ma) from pit at 538500,246800

Ownership:

  • 1890-1902 Cam Portland Cement Co. Ltd
  • 1902-1926 Cam Blue Lias Lime and Cement Co. Ltd
  • 1926-1948 Eastwoods Cement Ltd

Initially bottle kilns were used with dry process on unground marl from a pit originally dug for "coprolite". The marl was somewhat better than that at plants such as Standard and Meldreth, and around the turn of the century it was changed to wet process using slurry backs and drying flats. Chamber kilns were installed around 1905 (Jackson says six, although there is no map evidence for this), and capacity was 120 t/week (Davis' list). The plant was on the Great Northern railway. Remaining independent, the plant struggled on until it came to a standstill in 1926, and was bought out by Eastwoods. Lime production was re-established, finally ending in 1948, but no more cement was made. The plant site was abandoned, and is now waste ground, with some ruins remaining. The quarries are flooded.

The later company name is an example of the inaccurate use of language a hundred years ago. Blue Lias Lime had a reputation for high quality not shared by Cambridgeshire products, and the company's product was so called to suggest a similar quality (as was that of other Cambridgeshire plants), although Blue Lias was never used as a raw material in Cambridgeshire. In 1900, Charles Nelson & Co (Stockton) brought an action against them on behalf of the Warwickshire Blue Lias lime manufacturers. The action failed, the judgement stating that “the term Lias covers a multitude of materials”. Following the judgement, the company twisted the knife by re-naming itself the Cam Blue Lias Lime and Cement Co. Ltd. Eastwoods in the late 1920s continued calling the plant's product "Cam Blue Lias Lime".

No rotary kilns were installed.


Sources: Cook, p 97: Francis, pp 208-210: Jackson, p 274