The following is an edited transcript of the Prospectus for the launch of the limited company, to be found in the Glasgow Herald, 6 March 1899, p 4. I have also included a description of the ropeway that was used to bring limestone up from the southwestern end of Monmouth Beach.
The Lyme Regis plant was one of many plants using Blue Lias limestone for which the date of commencement of Portland cement manufacture is uncertain for a number of reasons. The Blue Lias was used to make hydraulic lime from early times, and had a good reputation for use in engineering masonry construction, including Smeaton's lighthouse. With the arrival on the scene of the vastly superior Portland cement, many suppliers of Blue Lias lime chose to add the new product to their product range. A few went to considerable lengths to make a genuine Portland product, but most assumed that something like Portland cement could be made by minor modifications of their lime product - mainly consisting of burning a bit hotter. The resulting product, which might class as an inferior Portland cement, or might not be Portland cement at all, was often sold successfully in limited local markets that were remote from the "Portland cement heartland" in southeast England. Until the British Standard was produced in the early 20th century, and some sort of rational definition of the product was written down, the term "Portland cement" was indiscriminately applied. This, of course, makes the study of the early history of the product and producing sites difficult.
The Prospectus issued in 1899 represents a re-writing of the history of the Lyme Regis plant, which had for a long time claimed Portland cement as a product. A similar plant at Charmouth Harbour a few miles to the east differs only in that it never went on to make a genuine Portland cement. The prospectus is of interest because it contains a technical report on the site by David Butler.
Values of imperial units (as of 1900) used in the text (alphabetical order): 1 acre = 0.40468424 Ha: 1 ft = 0.30479947 m: 1 gallon = 4.5460756 dm3: 1 HP (horse-power) = 0.7456998 kW: 1 inch = 25.399956 mm: 1 psi (pound-force per square inch) = 6.89478 kPa: 1 ton = 1.01604684 tonne: 1 yard = 0.91439841 m.
THE LYME REGIS CEMENT COMPANY (Limited).
This company has been formed to acquire a leasehold property consisting of 40 acres or thereabouts, situate at Lyme Regis, in the county of Dorset, abutting on the sea, and containing practically an inexhaustible supply of blue lias limestone, interstratified with the natural marls, from which, according to expert's opinion, the finest quality of Portland cement can be made, as has been proved by tentative work on the property.
The present lease expires in 1910, the minimum annual rental being £150 and £180 as a maximum. There is, however, an agreement for the granting of a new lease for the term of 50 years, from the 25th March, 1898, at the existing rents. The Vendors have received an offer to lease a portion of the property for quarrying purposes only to persons who are willing to pay a royalty therefor, not to exceed £500 per annum.
There are situate on the property certain works, plant, and machinery which have hitherto been used for the manufacture of hydraulic lime, and which can be utilised, and it is proposed to erect large additional works and plant which it is anticipated could be working and turning out cement within four months of commencing to erect same.
There is a harbour adjoining the property which affords every facility for shipment, and vessels can be loaded direct from the works, thus saving cost of railway carriage and extra handling (Note 1).
The exceptionally high price to which Portland cement has risen, viz., 40s per ton (Note 2), and the enormous demand therefor, proves that the present is a most opportune time to acquire this property. This demand, which has always been great commercially, is not only daily increasing on account of the new and varied uses to which Portland Cement is being constantly applied, but is also prospectively greater than at any other time, in consequence of the increased demand necessitated by the very extensive works, fortifications, &c., in course of construction at Devonport, Stonehouse, Dover (Note 3), and other places, both home and abroad. The directors are informed that cement manufacturers have now contracts booked for several years in advance, and contractors and others are experiencing great difficulty in getting the supplies requisite for their business. This will be understood when it is remembered that cement has risen within the past few months from 28s per ton to 40s per ton, and everything points to a further rise in the near future (Note 4).
The quality of the Blue Lias stone on this property is well known to engineers and contractors, and hitherto it has been used more particularly for the manufacture of Blue Lias hydraulic lime (Note 5).
The Directors believe that in acquiring this property they have secured the whole outcrop of the Blue Lias limestone in the district, and will therefore have practically the monopoly of the manufacture there (Note 6).
Samples of the stone on the property have been analysed by Professor Henry Thomas Jones, of the Chemistry Department, Aberdeen University, and his analysis (Note 7) is as follows:—
|University of Aberdeen, 15th November, 1898.|
|Analysis of a sample of Blue Lias limestone from Lyme Regis, Dorset. It was found to contain 100 parts:—|
|Alkalis, principally Potash||1.95|
|Insoluble Siliceous Residue||1.17|
|This sample is an excellent Hydraulic Lime, produced from the Blue Lias Limestone Quarries at Lyme Regis in Dorset, and will, without doubt, be highly appreciated by engineers in the construction of docks, harbours, &c.|
|HENRY THOMAS JONES, F.I.C., late Asst. Prof. of Chemistry University of Aberdeen; Lecturer on Chemistry, Gordon's College, Aberdeen.|
As evidence of the valuable nature of the Blue Lias Lime and natural Cement (Note 8) on the property, it has been distinctly recognised by the most eminent engineers as one of the best known, having been used in the construction of Westminster Bridge; by the Engineers for the docks in London, Plymouth, Southampton, Grimsby, Sunderland, the Channel Islands, Portland, Fleetwood, Hull and Leith, and for the fortifications at Inchkieth, and also throughout the construction of kindred undertakings throughout the kingdom (Note 5 again).
The property has also been inspected by Mr D. B. Butler, of Messrs Henry Faija & Co., of London, the well-known Cement Experts, and whose report thereon is as follows:-
In accordance with instructions, I visited Lyme Regis on 25th October last, and inspected the Blue Lias Stone Quarries on the foreshore east and west of the town. I also examined the existing Lime Works, and the site for the proposed cement works adjoining the harbour.
Portland Cement Testing Works and Laboratory,
41 Old Queen Street,
There is practically an inexhaustible supply of raw materials for cement making purposes. In addition to the rights of quarrying under some forty acres of land immediately behind the western quarry, which I understand is held on lease, and where the workable Lias Stone and Shale deposits above foreshore level are some 20 ft thick (Note 9), I am informed that the right has also been acquired of getting stone from the foreshore for a very considerable distance further westward, without taking into consideration the extensive foreshore quarries on the east of the town (Note 10). The stone from these eastern quarries, however, would only be used in case of emergency, owing to the extra cost of handling and transport to the western works.
The existing Lime Works adjoin the western quarry, and are situated at the foot of the cliff, about 200 yards west of the harbour. They consist of the usual limekilns, four pairs of 4ft. millstones in a four-storey mill-house, together with a lime-store and other buildings. The buildings are substantially constructed of stone, and with some modifications and repairs to roofs, &c., could be adapted and utilised for cement-making purposes, such, for instance, as the grinding and mixing of raw materials in the first stages of manufacture.
The site for the proposed cement works is a flat, triangular piece of land, about two acres in extent, situated at the foot of the cliff, well out of the reach of the tide, between the existing lime works and the harbour (Note 11). I would suggest that the cement-grinding mills and warehouses should be erected on that portion of the site nearest the harbour, so that if the existing lime works were enlarged and converted into a raw material grinding plant, and the kilns arranged between the two mills, the materials would pass direct from the quarry, through the successive stages of manufacture, and eventually be delivered into the warehouse close to the harbour ready for despatch to the consumer. In addition to the facilities which would thus exist for ready and advantageous transport of the manufactured material, the close proximity of the harbour would be an incalculable advantage for obtaining supplies of fuel, &c., for calcination purposes. Roughly speaking, half a ton of coal and coke is required to manufacture a ton of cement, so that this is a matter of no small importance (Note 12).
I have carefully considered the matter of cost of erection of works, and I estimate that the cost of converting and adapting the existing works, and erecting and equipping cement works to turn out 20,000 tons per annum (Note 13), would be about eighteen thousand five hundred pounds (£18,500). From figures supplied to me as to the cost of getting raw materials, price of fuel, labour, &c., I estimate the cost of production to be nineteen shillings and fivepence per ton, which figure includes an allowance of ninepence (9d) per ton royalty on the raw material used, or roughly one shilling (1s) per ton of cement produced, but inasmuch as the maximum royalty payable under the lease is £450, the actual royalty would be reduced to 5½d per ton of cement upon an output of 20,000 tons per annum, and would be still further diminished in proportion as the output increased (Note 14). If the maximum royalty of £450 is diminished by £300 (the estimated royalty to be derived from the sublet eastern quarries) the royalty for an output of 20,000 tons of cement per annum would be 1.8d only, or say 2d per ton. I understand that the present selling price at Lyme Regis is thirty-six shillings (36s) per ton, f.o.b., which, in view of the immense activity of the cement trade, I should consider to be within the mark.
At the foot of the cliff, behind the proposed cement works site, there is a large sloping bank of blue clay (Note 15), which, from samples submitted for my inspection, can be made into first-class bricks, tiles, &c. There is also a circular brick kiln on the site, with roofed drying racks arranged around it, so that bricks for the erection of the works could be made on the spot. As the lime also can be produced on the property, the necessary buildings could be erected under advantageous circumstances, and if this course were adopted, no doubt a considerable saving could be effected on the estimate of cost of erection above quote.
(signed) D. B. BUTLER.
The present issue of 50,000 shares will suffice to purchase from Mr Cotton, who is selling the same to the company at a profit, the lease, buildings, plant, &c., at the price of £25,000, payable up to £4000 in cash and the balance in cash or Shares, at the option of the Directors of this Company, thus leaving £25,000 available for the erection of additional plant, and the provision of working capital, &c. The balance of 25,000 Shares to be issued as occasion may require.
As regard the profits to be earned, the plant proposed to be erected should give an output of 20,000 tons per annum, and as cement can be manufactured at from 18s to 20s per ton, this would leave at the present price a clear profit of 20s per ton, but assuming the profit to be only 12s per ton, the profit would amount to £12,000 per annum, which would be equivalent to 24 per cent. on the Capital of £50,000 now being issued.
The Cement Business is now one of the most prosperous in the country, and the present issue offers to investors an exceptional opportunity to acquire an interest in a sound home industry with prospects of large dividends, and also in the near future a very appreciable increase in the value of the Shares. The Directors have all personally inspected the property, and find that in addition there are large deposits of brick earth, which lie above the limestone over a considerable portion of the property, and from which bricks of the best quality can and have been manufactured (Note 16).