Cement Kilns

Ellesmere Port

Ellesmere Port LogoEarly Ship Canal Brand.


  • Grid reference: SJ4095676666
  • x=340956
  • y=376666
  • 53°17'1"N; 2°53'8"W
  • Civil Parish: Whitby, Cheshire

Clinker manufacture operational: 12/1912-06/1932

Approximate total clinker production: 2.04 million tonnes

Raw materials:

  • Carboniferous Limestone (Clwyd Limestone Group: 326-352 Ma) by ship from the Little Orme: 281850,382300, Llandudno, Caernarfonshire
  • Silurian shale (Mudstone of the Elwy Formation: 419-423 Ma) from Garth Fawr: 281890,378750, Llangwstenin, Caernarfonshire crushed at the quarry, transferred by belt to Mochdre station, thence by rail.


  • 1911-1912 Stanlow Works Estate Ltd
  • 1912-1926 Ship Canal Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd
  • 1926-1931 Red Triangle
  • 09/1931-06/1932 APCM (Blue Circle)

Sometimes known as Ship Canal Works or Stanlow Works. This was the first example of a plant established to employ Carboniferous materials explicitly for the dry rotary kiln process. The prospectus claimed the advantages of wharfs on the Manchester Ship Canal and the Shropshire Union Canal and connection to the Wirral railway, allowing distribution into markets in Lancashire and the Midlands, as well as exports, and low production costs afforded by an “efficient site”. The dry process was said to have been “for many years in successful operation in the United States and Canada”. In fact, the launch of the company, as early as 1908, was heralded as a major threat to the old-established firms, and APCM issued a statement commenting that “attempts have been made to start these works for some considerable time past”. There are no cement raw materials in the vicinity, and both limestone and shale were brought by 74-km trip from North Wales.

The plant was built on a site previously occupied by the Stanlow Works of the Smelting Corporation, and much of its infra-structure seems to have been retained. The quarry had previously supplied limestone to the Scottish steel industry. Although, perhaps understandably, the dates are not recorded, the dry process was abandoned in favour of wet process – evidently in 1920, when both wet rawmills and kilns A4 and A5 were installed. The plant did not function profitably until after 1920. It would appear that the small kilns were adapted for optional slurry feed at that point, and that in fact they nearly always functioned as wet kilns thereafter. The plant became the first acquisition and core plant of what was to become the Red Triangle group in 1926, and substantial new investment began, with a sixth kiln, new despatch facilities for peak rates of 12,000 t/week, and up-rating of the Little Orme quarry. However, after the Blue Circle takeover, the plant was quickly shut down, although the Ship Canal wharf and despatch facility continued to be operated by them for some time. The relatively new kiln A6 was transferred to Harbury as kiln B1. The site was re-developed and is now mainly covered by an ancillary part of the Stanlow petrochemicals complex, and partly by the M53. No traces remain. The limestone quarry shut down in 1936.


Initially for the dry process, there were three Fuller ball-race mills, four Griffin mills and a ball- and tube-mill combination. The crushed raw materials were passed through Ruggles-Cole rotary driers, then combined by weight and fed to the mills. The finished rawmix was delivered to a storage bin from which the feeds for the kilns were withdrawn, with no attempt at blending. For the wet process, there were four 260 kW ball- and tube-mill sets, in closed circuit with Trix separators.

Six rotary kilns were installed:

Kiln A1

Supplier: Polysius?
Operated: Early December 1912-1929
Process: Dry as installed: converted to wet process around 1920
Location: hot end 340951,376635: cold end 340932, 376661: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions: metric 35.00 × 2.400
Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Max speed: ?
Kiln profile: ?
Cooler: ? there is no mention of coolers in the plant list. Kilns 1-3 may have had a cooling zone in the nose, as with the contemporary Masons A1.
Cooler profile: ?
Fuel: Coal
Coal Mill: indirect fired: 3 Griffin mills and 2 Fuller ball-race mills used in common on kilns 1-3.
Typical Output: 1912-1920 75 t/d: 1920-1929 84 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1912-1920 9.1 MJ/kg: 1920-1929 9.0 MJ/kg

Kiln A2

Operated: Mid January 1913-1929
Location: hot end 340956,376639: cold end 340937, 376664: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A1.

Kiln A3

Operated: ?February 1914-1929
Location: hot end 340961,376642: cold end 340942, 376668: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A1.

Kiln A4

Supplier: Ernest Newell
Operated: 11/1921-03/1932
Process: Wet
Location: hot end 340981,376651: cold end 340945,376700: hot end enclosed.
Dimensions: 200’0” × 9’0” (metric 60.96 × 2.743)
Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?anticlockwise
Slope: ?
Max speed: ?
Drive: 52 kW
Kiln profile: 0×2743: 60960×2743: Tyres at 2134, 17069, 35367, 54254
Cooler: rotary beneath kiln
Cooler profile: ?
Fuel: Coal
Coal Mill: indirect fired: Fuller-Lehigh ball-race mill.
Typical Output: 168 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 7.5 MJ/kg

Kiln A5

Operated: 9/1922-01/1932
Location: hot end 340988,376656: cold end 340952, 376705: hot end enclosed.
Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?clockwise
Identical in all other respects to A4.

Kiln A6

Supplier: Ernest Newell
Operated: 7/1927-12/1931
Process: Wet
Location: hot end 340974,376646: cold end 340938,376695: hot end enclosed.
Dimensions: 200’0” × 9’10½”B / 9’0”CD (metric 60.96 × 3.010 / 2.743)
Rotation (viewed from firing end): clockwise
Slope: ?
Max speed: ?
Drive: 37 kW
Kiln profile: 0×2743: 3048×2743: 4267×3010: 14808×3010: 16129×2743: 60960×2743: Tyres at 2134, 17170, 29324, 39624, 54254
Cooler: rotary 70’10½” × 7’4½”/ 6’4” (metric 21.60 × 2.248 / 1.930) beneath kiln
Cooler profile: 0×2248: 5563×2248: 6528×1930: 21603×1930: Tyres at 4318, 15138
Fuel: Coal
Coal Mill: indirect fired: Fuller-Lehigh ball-race mill.
Typical Output: 175 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 7.5 MJ/kg

Sources: Cook, p 74: Jackson, pp 279, 297: Pugh, pp 13-14, 110: Peter J. Aspinall and Daphne M. Hudson, Ellesmere Port: the Making of an Industrial Borough, Borough Council of Ellesmere Port, Neston and South Wirral, 1982, ISBN 0 95076 660 4, pp 80-81, 139-140 and plate XV: the plant is described (anonymously) in Blount, pp 95-96: a complete inventory of the plant as at 1921 is available in fire insurance documents held by Cheshire Record Office, document D 2429 (see a summary of this): see also 1913 Directors' Report.

© Dylan Moore 2011: last edit 10/01/16.

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Old Maps

Ellesmere Port Detail

Approximate capacity: tonnes per year
Ellesmere Port Capacity

Ellesmere Port Picture
Picture: ©English Heritage - NMR Aerofilms Collection. Catalogue number 18804. A high-definition version can be obtained from English Heritage. This was taken on 14/7/1927, viewed from the south. The plant was under the Red Triangle regime, and kiln 6 had recently started up. Kiln 5 is stopped, but the old kilns 1-3 all seem to be running. The Manchester Ship Canal is in the background, and the wharf, with raw material reception silos, is beyond the top-right. In the top-right is the wet rawmill house, containing four 260 kW ball-and-tube mill sets. The stack to the left of it is that of the now-demolished power house, used before the plant was converted to supply by the Mersey Power Company. The finish mills are in the buildings bottom-right, and the cement silos and distribution facilities are across the road, beyond the bottom-left corner, on the banks of the Ellesmere Canal. The terrace row top left was company housing.

Letter Head
Ship Canal Company letter head, 1912. The claim to make not merely Portland Cement but Highest Grade Portland Cement was more a statement of intention than actuality, since the plant was not yet functional: its start-up had been delayed by, among other things, failure of the first kiln to make anything resembling clinker.