The Meldreth Portland Cement & Brick Co. Ltd was launched 4/12/1897 with £30,000 capital in 30,000 £1 shares of which 10,000 were 6% preference shares. The share issue was of 10,000 preference shares and 12,500 ordinary. The Vendor (Hubert Oslar Shepherd Ellis) took the remaining 7,500 as part payment of the purchase money. Details were given in the Cambridge Chronicle and Journal on Friday 3/12/1897, as follows:
Joseph Bell, Esq., J.P. (of Messrs Wm. Bell & Sons, Saffron Walden & Cambridge, Builders & Contractors
John Neville Esq., J.P. (chairman of the Ravenhead Pipe & Brick Co. Ltd, St Helens, Lancs
Wm. Saint Esq., Builder & Contractor, Railway Works, Cambridge
Richard Shaw, Esq. (of Messrs Richard Shaw Ltd) Liverpool
John Hart Sankey, Esq., J.P. C.C (of Messrs Sankey & Son, Ironbridge & Essex Wharves, Canning Town, and Barge House Wharf, North Woolwich, Cement Lime & Brick Merchants), Gravesend
Hubert O S Ellis, Esq., B.A., LL.B., 4, Petty Cury, Cambridge will join the board after allotment.
This Company is formed for the purpose of acquiring certain freehold lands (tithe free) in the Parish of Meldreth, in the County of Cambridge, for the manufacture of Portland and other Cement, Bricks, Tiles, &c., and also for the purpose of getting and selling Coprolites.
Mr Edmund Spargo, C.E., M.E., M.Inst.M.M., reports that the land contains a bed of natural Cement Marl, which has been bored in different holes to the Coprolites which lie immediately beneath the Cement earth. The Cement earth is found at a depth of from 4 to 6 feet, and is from 15 feet to 25 feet, or thereabouts, in thickness, and contains, by estimation, an average of about 50,000 tons per acre.
The natural Cement Marl proposed to be used by this Company contains, as can be seen from the report and analyses, all the ingredients necessary for the manufacture of first-class Portland Cement, without the addition of any foreign material whatever. All that is required is to excavate the Cement Marl, break it into a convenient size, and bring it in trucks to the mouth of the kiln. It has then to be burnt, crushed and ground, and is ready for sale.
Samples of the Cement Marl taken from the land have been submitted to Mr. J. West Knights, the Public Analyst for Cambs., Hunts., and the Isle of Ely, F.I.C., F.C.S.; to Mr. Edward Davies, F.C.S., F.I.C., of Liverpool, and by Mr. Edmund Spargo, C.E., of London and Liverpool, to the late Mr. Norman Tate, F.I.C., F.C.S., of Liverpool, who all speak very highly of the Cement Marl.
A local Company with a small capital is at work making Portland Cement on land in the neighbourhood of this Company's property, and containing a similar deposit of natural Cement Marl, and is paying a substantial dividend.
The Coprolites immediately beneath the Cement earth are estimated to produce 250 to 300 tons per acre, these have simply to be washed and are fit for the market. The selling price is about 30s. per ton.
Beneath the Coprolites is a deposit of blue gault clay. A high-class quality of Bricks, Tiles, Drain Pipes, and similar articles can be made from it, and as the removal of the Cement Marl and Coprolites will leave the clay open for working without any overburden to remove, this is expected to be a very large and profitable addition to the business of the Company.
Preliminary arrangements have been entered into for connecting the Works with the Great Northern Railway at Meldreth Station.