The following article appeared in the Western Mail (5/12/1895, p 7) and describes the plant before it expanded.
SOUTH WALES PORTLAND CEMENT AND LIME COMPANY (LIMITED).
A THRIVING LOCAL INDUSTRY.
One of the most thriving industries in this locality, and the only one of its kind in the Principality of Wales, is that of the South Wales Portland Cement and Lime Company (Limited), picturesquely situated in the fields midway between Penarth and Lavernock, and which deserves to be better known than it is, having regard alike to the quantity and the quality of its productions. Besides being the only cement works in Wales (Note 1), these are the largest Aberthaw blue lias lime works in the whole of the United Kingdom (Note 2). Having recently taken over the "Pebble Limeworks" at the Port of Aberthaw, the company now control the output of the finest hydraulic lime that the world produces. To speak of "pebble lime" to an engineer or architect is to awaken his interest, for who has not heard of this wonderful product? Cargoes of the "pebbles" are shipped almost daily to different parts of England for burning into lime, and even Australia has wanted a share! The Penarth works, which, with the quarries, cover nearly 60 acres, and give employment to 150 hands, were started single- handed by Mr W. Llewellyn Morcom, the present managing director, and laid out by Mr. W. J. Cooper, F.C.S. (Note 3), under whose management they have been developed and carried on with ever-increasing success. Mr. Morcom set the industry on foot in 1889, primarily with the object of trying the new process for making Portland cement in a revolving cylinder, which, however, proved to be a failure, after the expenditure of a large sum of money upon the experiments that were at that time carried out. For the past three or four years the company have made cement in an improved class of kiln, and now turn out an article equal to any manufactured in the kingdom. They are at present putting down plant for doubling the output, to meet the rapidly-growing demand. The lime business has also developed to such an extent as to justify, or rather to render necessary, the step the management has just taken in acquiring the works at Bridgend lately carried on by the Aberthaw Blue Lias Lime Company, and the arrangements they have also just completed for the working of the "Aberthaw Pebble Lime Company's" Works at the port of Aberthaw, which will enable the company to turn out 1,000 tons of Aberthaw Blue Lias lime weekly. Telephone communication has been established between the different works. which will be managed and controlled from the Penarth centre. Besides all this, ovens have been erected at the central works for the manufacture of plaster of Paris. There is a great demand for a good article, and this manufacture will, no doubt, prove to be as successful as that of lime and cement have already done.
The processes by which the rough stone and clay are converted into the manufactured Portland Cement are sufficiently interesting to describe. The stone and clay are conveyed from the quarry in trams to the works. On reaching the "crusher" they are weighed in their respective proportions, and are not again seen until they issue from the brick presses in the shape of blocks ready for burning. The blocks are stacked in chambers adjoining the kiln (Note 4), where they are dried by the waste heat, and then they are placed in the kiln with alternate layers of coke. Under temperature which is sufficient to melt iron, the blocks are fused into what is called "clinker". This "clinker" is in turn conveyed to the grinding department, whence the finished cement is conveyed by means of long screws to the warehouse, and there deposited in different bins, each kiln being kept separate for the purpose of testing. The warehouse holds 2,000 tons of cement, which will give an impression of the magnitude of the concern; and some idea of its development may be gathered from the fact that the output when the works were first started was only 50 tons a week (Note 5). A Western Mail representative, having occasion to see Mr. Morcom in his office, was courteously taken by that gentleman over the immense pile of buildings, which have a chimney stack nearly as high as those at the Dowlais Works. Access to certain of the departments is obtained by a lift; there is a commodious yard, and the quarries reach nearly to Lavernock. A visit was first paid to the laboratories, where the raw material and the finished article are carefully tested by Mr. A. E. Turner (chemist) and his assistant. The experiments made in the laboratories are of a most searching character. In addition to seven boilers, there are five engines, 700 horse power. The warehouse, already referred to as affording accommodation for 2,000 tons of cement, covers nearly a quarter of an acre. En route Mr Morcom pointed to a few of the specialities the works are able to produce. One of these was a very fine polished mosaic, made from cement. The artificial stone department is one of the largest, and it is worthy of notice that the company is now making paving slabs under an improved process which is in course of being patented (Note 6). These paving stones becoming everywhere popular, and before long they will probably be used as extensively in Wales as they now are in London. The paving stones in Albany-road, Cardiff, must strike pedestrians as a very creditable specimen of the company's work. The stones are impervious to, and are not damaged by, frost. They do not wear away into holes which become puddles of water in the rain. The company have just laid 3,500 yards of this artificial stone for the Penarth Local Board at Penarth. and they have also supplied Cardiff, Bath, Cheltenham, Bristol, Neath and other places and give every satisfaction to the authorities of those towns. No fewer than 70 railway trucks are kept running to send material away to the different points of destination. The consumption of fuel amounts to from 150 to 200 tons a week. The warehouse and other departments were in turn visited, and it may be pointed out that these include a cooper's department, the firm making its own cement casks (Note 7). Tons of granite of different sorts are deposited in the yard and there is also a stack of gypsum, imported from Paris. for the plaster of Paris business, which is certain to develop into a very extensive branch. The stacks of artificial stone occupy thousands of yards. These slabs have a great reputation, not only for paving purposes, but (with engineers) for use as caps for pillars, steps, and copings, in the construction of railway platforms. Cement for fireproof flooring is also one of the company's specialities, which has been adopted, among other places, at the Cardiff Free Library and the "Western Mail" new buildings, St. Mary-street, Cardiff.