Cliffe Creek


  • Grid reference: TQ71577694
  • x=571570
  • y=176940
  • 51°27'56"N; 0°28'12"E
  • Civil Parish: Cliffe, Kent

Clinker manufacture operational: 1854-1886

Approximate total clinker production: 200,000 tonnes

Raw materials:

  • Upper Chalk (Seaford Chalk Formation: 85-88 Ma) from nearby quarry at 572700,176450, originally by canal , then by tramway.
  • Alluvial Clay from pits at 572000,176900


  • 1854-1876 I. C. Johnson and Co.
  • 1876-1886 Empson, Holcombe and Co.
  • 1886- Francis and Co. Ltd

Otherwise known as The Pottery. There were two plants on Cliffe Creek, and this was at the eastern, inland end. The plant was Johnson’s second. It is strictly outside the scope of this work because it closed before 1895, but is included because its history is inseparable from that of the Cliffe Quarry and Nine Elms plants. The canal communicating with the chalk quarry existed already. It was built in the late eighteenth century to supply lime rock and ballast, and so made the otherwise unpromising Creek site attractive to Johnson. The initial two bottle kilns were increased to seven in 1856, but the plant failed to pay and was more or less mothballed during the period when Johnson developed the Gateshead plant. Kiln complement was increased to ten around 1863 and sixteen around 1868. The plant was replaced by Cliffe Quarry plant using chamber kilns in 1874, and was sold to Empson, Holcombe. The bottle kilns were abandoned and a block of six chamber kilns (180 t/week) was built. The plant was bought by Francis in 1886 and shut down. Apart from the canal and tramway to the quarry, there was no landward communication, all incoming and outgoing materials being transported by barge using the plant’s quay on the creek. The site was abandoned after closure, and some slight remains including the shell of the chamber kiln block, are still visible. There is little detailed contemporary information available regarding this plant. Please contact me with any relevant information or corrections. I am particularly interested in firmer dates and statistics, pictures and plans.

No rotary kilns were installed.

Sources: Eve, pp 21-22: Francis, pp 168-172: Jackson, pp 276, 279: Preston, p 71: J. M. Preston, Cliffe Industrial Landscape, unpublished, date?