In 1885, an article appeared in the Freeman's Journal (16/09/1885, p 5). This described the plant in its earliest form.
THE DUBLIN PORTLAND CEMENT COMPANY
One perhaps of the most notable developments of the movement for the extension of Irish industries is the establishment and progress of the works of the Dublin Portland Cement Company. These works were established a little over two years ago. The first step taken was to acquire the Rialto and the Harcourt mills, two flour mills adjoining each other, and situated on the banks of the Grand Canal, close to the first lock. It is a matter of interest to note that at a time when the milling interest in Ireland has suffered so much, and has in many places been extinguished by the severe competition of imported American flour, two mills formerly used for the manufacture of flour have been utilised for the purpose of establishing a new and what promises to be a prosperous industry in Ireland.
Heretofore many thousand of tons of cement have been imported into Ireland every year, and it is encouraging to find that the Dublin Portland Cement Company has been so far successful that it has for a length of time had to refuse orders owing to the limited producing power of the machinery and appliances at its command. Having acquired the mills and the machinery, together with valuable quarries, a short distance from the mills for a sum of £4,500, the necessary alterations were proceeded with, adapting the premises and the machinery to the new purpose for which they were intended. Kilns and drying sheds were erected, and crushing machinery purchased, which is capable of turning out eighty tons of cement weekly. They are able to supply this cement at a price considerably lower than that for which cement of the same quality can be obtained from England, one advantage which they possess being in the difference of 7s a ton representing the cost of freight from England.
What is known as Portland cement is made in London and in a good many other places in England. It derives its name from its resemblance when dry to Portland stone. It is largely used in the manufacture of concrete, for pavements, and also as the foundation for stone sets which are now so generally used in the paving of the carriageways of our city thoroughfares. For this latter purpose the Dublin Corporation has made extensive use of the cement manufactured by the Dublin company, and the officials of the Corporation have borne testimony to its excellent quality. It has also been extensively used by the Dublin Port end Docks Board, the Board of Works, the Irish Lights Board, Messrs A Guinness, Son, and Co.; Messrs Brooks, Thomas, and Co: the Alliance Gas Company, and many of the leading builders and contractors in Dublin and other parts of Ireland.
From these and other customers much larger orders might have been obtained had the company been able to execute them, one eminent firm having proposed to take as much as 200 tons a week. With a producing power, however, equal only to 80 tees a week these orders had to be declined. It is now proposed to extend the works by erecting seven new kilns, in addition to the four at present in use. Additional crushing machinery will also be erected, and a new steam engine of 150 horse-power procured. With these improved and extended appliances, it is hoped that instead of the present output, of eighty tons weekly it will be possible to manufacture 250 tons per week. The mills supply sufficient accommodation for storage, so that for this purpose, no new expenditure will be necessary. The Quarries, as already stated, are within a convenient distance of the works, so that the cost of conveying the stone is trifling. They cover ten acres of ground, and the supply of material may be regarded as practically unlimited. There is, moreover, a further advantage in the fact that all the material for the manufacture of the cement is found in the quarries. Some of the English cement manufactories labour under the disadvantage of having to procure from a distance a sufficient quantity of chalk to mix with other materials, but the Dublin quarries contain an excellent mixture of limestone and shale.
The works, which are situated within easy distance of the Inchicore tramway terminus, will repay a visit. There are about fifty men employed altogether, portion of these being engaged at the quarries and the remainder at the mills. The stone is conveyed in carts from the quarries to the factory, where, after being broken into pieces of a moderate size—from three to four inches in diameter —the stones are shovelled into a crushing machine, where they are ground into powder. This is then put through a finer machine, the result being to reduce the material to still finer powder. It is then damped, and in this state is moulded by hand into balls of about four inches in diameter. In this state it very much resembles in appearance common clay. These balls, which are flat at one end, are placed in the drying bed, a large apartment about 100 feet in length and50 feet wide, and which is heated by means of ordinary furnaces. After remaining in this shed for the necessary period, the balls are conveyed in wheelbarrows to the kilns, where they undergo a further drying process. When this is completed they are again put through a crushing machine and after passing through what is called a "demon", are subsequently ground to the finest powder by heavy French burr millstones. The product thus obtained in Portland cement.
It is also intended to commence the manufacture of bricks from the clay which lies over the stone. By this means the material which has to be removed in opening the quarries will be utilised and, it is expected, a considerable profit realised. The proposed extension of the works will render necessary a large additional expenditure; and to provide for this it is proposed to make a second issue of 10,000 shares of £1 each. This will give total paid-up capital of £20,000. The directors anticipate the most favourable results from the proposed extension of the works, and the statements of fact put forward in the prospectus seem fully to justify these anticipations. The demand for cement is not only large at present, but there is every prospect that that demand will increase instead of diminishing. It is daily coming into more extensive use, and in support of this statement may be mentioned the requirement of the Act of Parliament recently passed which provides that concrete shall be used for the flooring of all artisans' dwellings erected under the provisions of the act. Although the new issue of shares, it should be added, has only been on the market for a few days, over 4,000 have been already subscribed for.