Meldreth

Location:

  • Grid reference: TL36524661
  • x=536520
  • y=246610
  • 52°6'4"N; 0°0'24"W
  • Civil Parish: Meldreth, Cambridgeshire

Clinker manufacture operational: 1898-1908

Approximate total clinker production: 15,000 tonnes

Raw materials: Chalk Marl (West Melbury Marly Chalk Formation: 97-100 Ma) from pit at 536500,246800

Ownership:

  • 1898-1908 Meldreth Portland Cement & Brick Co. Ltd
  • 1908-1912 Standard Cement Co. Ltd
  • 1912-1922 BPCM (Blue Circle)

The development of the site began on 6/9/1889 with the formation of the Meldreth Cement & Coprolite Syndicate Ltd. This surveyed and drilled the land, but the promoter and landowner, Hubert Oslar Shepherd Ellis (b 1856 Meldreth, d 1949 Meldreth) went bankrupt in 1890, and the company was liquidated 24/6/1891. The project was in abeyance until 4/12/1897, when Ellis launched the Meldreth Portland Cement & Brick Co. Ltd. This had twelve bottle kilns burning unground “cement rock”, having a capacity of 300 t/week. The underlying Gault Clay was used for brick making. Davis put the clinker capacity at 50 t/week in 1907, indicating only two kilns were used for cement, and it is unlikely that more than this was ever made. The plant was joined to the Great Northern railway at Meldreth station by a tramway in 1901. The mill house burned down 26/4/1907, and the plant probably made little until it became insolvent in 1908. At around this time, A. C. and F. W. Davis of Saxon set up the Standard Cement Co. Ltd as a paper company to purchase the plant. It was then put up for sale in 1911 for non-cement business, but there were no bidders. In 1912 it was acquired, along with Saxon and Norman, by BPCM, although the Standard Cement Co. Ltd remained a legal entity. The Meldreth Portland Cement & Brick Co. Ltd was wound up 15/10/1913. In 1921 the plant was dismantled and the tramway was taken up, and a resolution to liquidate the Standard Cement Co. Ltd was passed at a meeting at Old Portland House, Lloyds Avenue, chaired by A. C. Davis. At some time between then and 1928, the site was sold to the Atlas Stone Co. Ltd, headed by A. C. Davis's brother, Fred. From 1928, the site was developed for asbestos board manufacture, and was taken over in 1975 by Eternit, which continues to make fibre/cement board there.

No rotary kilns were installed.


Sources: Cook, p 42: Francis, pp 208-209

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:

Directors:

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.

ABRIDGED PROSPECTUS.

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.