Cement Kilns

Martin Earles

Rhinoceros LogoMartin, Earle and Co. Ltd Rhinoceros Brand.

Location:

  • Grid reference: TQ72836773
  • x=572830
  • y=167730
  • 51°22'56"N; 0°29'1"E
  • Civil Parish: Strood Extra, Kent

Clinker manufacture operational: 1881-1940, 1948-1967

Approximate total clinker production: 6.8 million tonnes

Raw materials:

  • Upper Chalk (Lewes Nodular Chalk Formation: 88-90 Ma) from quarries at 572550,167700, 572450,167800 and 572200,167900
  • Medway Alluvial Clay

Ownership:

  • 1881-1890 John Adams and Co.
  • 1890-1895 Reliance Portland Cement Works Ltd
  • 1895-1911 Martin, Earle and Co. Ltd
  • 1911-1967 BPCM (Blue Circle)

Although many aspects of the plant's history are well documented, evidence regarding the early kilns is slight and unsatisfactory. Please contact me with any relevant information or corrections.

Also called Wickham Works, having been built on the site of Wickham Farm. Aggressively developing the plant around the turn of the century, the company were among the primary promoters of the APCM amalgamation, and yet were excluded from the deal because, characteristically, they greatly over-valued their plant. The plant commenced with seven chamber kilns, making 185 t/week. Ten more (195 t/week) were added in 1895 and another ten (290 t/week) in 1896. Rapid expansion then took place. By the start of 1899 there were 70 kilns, making 1880 t/week. In that year, construction of a further 80 kilns was planned, to bring output to 4200 t/week, but with the market collapse of that year, only 20 of these were constructed, giving a final chamber kiln capacity of 2400 t/week. This phase is described with characteristically absurd hyperbole in a 1899 article. Subsequent developments were of rotary kilns. The company, in collaboration with P. J. Neate and Co., built their own kiln operational in 1901, and the plant was among those alleged to have operated the first successful rotary kiln (see article). They then installed a set of fifteen . The chamber kilns were decommissioned in 1914. With 16 rotary kilns operable, Martin Earles in 1922 proudly claimed to be the largest plant in Europe, although Swanscombe was twice the size. BPCM scrapped the old kilns and installed two Vickers kilns that, although near state-of-the-art, restricted output to 2800 t/week. From then on, the plant was used mainly for top-up capacity, shutting down completely in 1932-1933, 1940-1948 and 1958-1960: most or all of the clinker was moved to Crown and Quarry or Holborough for grinding. The plant made use of both rail and water transport: in the latter years the clinker produced was moved to the grinding sites by barge. From 1962, B2 was used intermittently for lime manufacture, and the plant was turned over entirely to lime in 1967. The kilns finally shut down in 1980, after which bought-in quicklime was hydrated, and the site finally closed in 1986. The site was cleared and is now the Medway Valley Leisure Park. The quarries were abandoned but are now in course of redevelopment.

Rawmills

Washmills were always used, originally on the plant site. With the 1920s rebuild of the plant, a 90 kW washmill and screeners were installed in the quarry, and the chalk slurry was inter-ground with clay in a similar washmill on the quay-side.

Eighteen rotary kilns were installed, in two stages.

Kiln A1

Supplier: Martin Earle/Neate
Operated: 1/5/1901-1904?
Process: Wet
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : unenclosed.
Dimensions: 60’0” × 5’10½” (metric 18.29×1.791)
Rotation (viewed from firing end): ? - since in the picture the drive appears to be on the near side, it may turn clockwise.
Slope: 1/24 (2.388°)
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile: 0×1791: 18288×1791: Tyres at 3861, 13030: turning gear at 14961
Cooler: None
Fuel: Coal
Typical Output: 26 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 10.5 MJ/kg


Kiln A2

Supplier: Earles/Neate
Operated: 1903-1912, 1920-1922
Process: Wet
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Dimensions: 90’0”× 6’0” (metric 18.29 × 1.829)
Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile: 0×: ×: ×: ×: ×: ×: ×: ×: ×: Tyres at , , , ,
Cooler: rotary followed by vertical drum cooler. It seems likely that there were only three of the latter, shared by kilns 2-6, 7-11 and 12-16 respectively.
Fuel: Coal
Coal Mill: indirect: common ball mill for all sixteen kilns
Typical Output: 37 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 8.5 MJ/kg


Kiln A3

Operated: 1903-1912, 1920-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln A4

Operated: 1903-1912, 1920-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln A5

Operated: 1903-1912, 1920-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln A6

Operated: 1903-1912, 1920-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln A7

Operated: 1903-1914, 1920-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln A8

Operated: 1903-1914, 1920-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln A9

Operated: 1903-1914, 1920-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln A10

Operated: 1904-1916, 1920-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln A11

Operated: 1904-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln A12

Operated: 1904-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln A13

Operated: 1904-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln A14

Operated: 1904-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln A15

Operated: 1904-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln A16

Operated: 1904-1922
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1


Kiln B1

Supplier: Vickers
Operated: 1922-1940, 1952-22/9/1967
Process: Wet
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : hot end enclosed.
Dimensions: 200’0”× 9’10½”B / 8’10½”B (metric 60.86×3.010/2.705)
Rotation (viewed from firing end): clockwise
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile: 0×2705: 3124×2705: 4191×3010: 15164×3010: 16231×2705: 60960×2705: Tyres at 2134, 17221, 35509, 53797
Cooler: Rotary 62’6”× 6’6” (metric 19.05 × 1.981) beneath kiln
Cooler profile: 0×1981: 19050×1981: Tyres at 4420, 15392
Fuel: Coal
Typical Output: 1922-1931 201 t/d: 1931-1936 210 t/d: 1936-1940 212 t/d: 1940-1953 227 t/d: 1953-1962 238 t/d: 1962-1967 232 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1922-1931 8.36 MJ/kg: 1931-1936 8.60 MJ/kg: 1936-1940 8.48 MJ/kg: 1940-1953 7.65 MJ/kg: 1953-1962 6.79 MJ/kg: 1962-1967 7.59 MJ/kg


Kiln B2

Operated: 1/1/1926-1940: 1948-22/9/1967
Location: Hot end,: Cold end, : hot end enclosed.
Typical Output: 1926-1931 207 t/d: 1931-1936 209 t/d: 1936-1940 225 t/d: 1940-1953 206 t/d: 1953-1962 241 t/d: 1962-1967 224 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1926-1931 8.28 MJ/kg: 1931-1936 8.39 MJ/kg: 1936-1940 7.83 MJ/kg: 1940-1953 9.28 MJ/kg: 1953-1962 7.16 MJ/kg: 1962-1967 7.63 MJ/kg
Identical in all other respects to B1



Sources: Eve, p 28: Francis, pp 193-195, 257: Jackson, pp 239, 286: Preston, pp 83-84, 172: Pugh, p 47: “The cement works of Martin, Earle, and Co., Limited”, The Engineer, LXXXVII, June 30, 1899, p 644: The Engineer, XCVIII, July 1, 1904, p 22

Read the Engineer articles.


© Dylan Moore 2011: last edit 06/08/2015.

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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 and modifications of the earlier rotary kiln section.

Approximate capacity: tonnes per year
Martin Earles Capacity


ME Kiln A1
Picture: a much-reproduced image of Kiln A1 in 1901, taken from the original plate. The wrapper around the centre was used as a coal drier. The building immediately behind was the Wickham Farm house, and remained in place until after WWII.


 GeoScenicP207783_CrownCopyright1938
Picture: Crown Copyright 1938: British Geological Survey Cat. No. P207783. This shows kilns B2 (right) and B1 viewed from the firing floor (west end) in 1938.


Martin Earles Picture
Picture: ©English Heritage - NMR Aerofilms Collection. Catalogue number CF266. A high-definition version can be obtained from English Heritage. This was probably taken in the late 1960s, viewed from the southwest. The chamber kilns were beyond the bottom-left corner. The first rotary kiln was located in the space below and left of the centre, and the group of fifteen kilns next installed were in the cleared area in the centre, parallel to kilns B1 (nearer) and B2.