• Grid reference:
    • ITM 712688,733078
    • old style O1278833073
  • 53°20'9"N; 6°18'23"W
  • City of Dublin, Co Dublin

Clinker manufacture operational: 1883-1904

Approximate total clinker production: 100,000 tonnes

Raw materials:


  • 1883-?1894 Dublin Portland Cement Co. Ltd.
  • ?1894-1904 Irish Portland Cement Co. Ltd.

The plant was located at Lock 1 on the Grand Canal, acquiring a pair of water mills (previously both for grain) using the 6 m head of the canal. It had a debatable history, producing hydraulic lime, although the production of Portland cement was uncertain; cement may have been imported and re-sold. However the balance of probabilities is that Portland cement may have been made for part of its operational period.

It looks as though the plant started in 1883 with four 20 ton bottle kilns, using the Calp Limestone from the adjacent quarry, in a fairly primitive dry process. Since hydraulic lime was always produced, not all the 80 t/week capacity was available for Portland cement. In 1885 new capital was sought for extra capacity; it's not clear whether this materialised, but the plan was for seven more 24 ton kilns for a total capacity of 250 t/week. The plant at this stage was described in a newspaper article. The plant evidently didn't do well (perhaps because of the inadequacy of the limestone) and by the 1890s had come to a standstill.

Charles Spackman was present 1893-1894, between his time at Barrow and his move to Isis, and the plant was evidently re-built from scratch, with six "Spackman kilns" (kilns with attached brick-drying chambers as at Barrow and Isis), brick-making machines, modern grinding equipment and steam power. At around this time, sweetener high-grade limestone was also brought in, from the Ardclogh/Lyons area 18 km west on the Grand Canal. Adverts appeared in the local press from late 1894 to mid 1896 saying the plant had been refitted and was "in a position to supply" Portland cement. There is evidence that cement was being supplied during the following ten years, but in 1904 it became insolvent, and its creditors forced liquidation. The plant was before the end of 1904 bought from the liquidator by the local brickworks. The final equipment was listed in the bill of sale.

No rotary kilns were installed.

Sources: all the reliable information is from newspapers. Two pertinent articles are given below.

In 1885, an article appeared in the Freeman's Journal (16/09/1885, p 5). This described the plant in its earliest form.


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.

In 1904, adverts appeared in the Northern Whig (06/08/1904, p 1; also in later issues and other papers), announcing the sale of the plant "as a going concern", and listing its main assets. As it turned out, it was bought by the adjacent brickworks (Dolphin Brickworks), and used (if it was used at all) only for brickmaking.


The Irish Portland Cement and Brick Co., Limited.

Valuable Cement and Brick Making Works,

First Lock, Grand Canal, Dublin.

Thousands of tons of the finest brickmaking material already excavated and fully weathered.

For sale as a going concern.

TENDERS for the above valuable cement and brick making concern, freehold and leasehold property, plant, machinery, and fixtures, will be received up to 15th August by Mr James McCartan, of No. 17, Crow Street, Dublin, the Receiver.

The above Works are situated on the Canal Bank at the First Lock, Grand Canal, Dublin, affording easy and cheap transit for goods to the South, Midland, and West of Ireland. Being directly connected by Canal with Ringsend Docks, Coal, Coke, Cement and Bricks can be delivered from and to the Port of Dublin at lowest rates. The capacity of the cement-making plant is from 180 to 200 tons cement per week, and the Limestone Quarry (the surface of which is brickmaking substance of superior quality, thousands of tons being excavated and fully weathered, and the clay of the same character as that so successfully used in the neighbourhood) contains the necessary raw material for cement manufacture, and is situated immediately at rear of the Crushing Yard, to which it is connected by Steam Winch and Rail. Cement produced at the Works has been of the first quality, enjoys a good reputation, and has been in extensive demand throughout the country. The concern is in excellent condition and complete working order, fitted with the most up-to-date machinery, has storage capacity for about 1,000 tons, with Blacksmiths', Fitters', and Carpenters' Shops, and all necessary tools, &c.

The PLANT and MACHINERY, of which a full inventory will be sent on application, include the following: —


  1. 33a. 0r. 3p. (Note 7) of Land, held for ever, indemnified from rent, situate at Kilmainham, being part of the lands of Golden Bridge South, in the Barony of Upper Cross, and County of Dublin.
  2. Plot of Ground adjoining the First Lock of the Grand Canal, containing 26 perches (Note 8), or thereabouts, Plantation measure, on which the Factory and Works are erected, and the use of the redundant water of the Canal, held under lease, dated 6th April, 1805, from the Canal Company, for 199 years, from that date, subject to rent of £31 l0s present currency. The buildings on this plot are known as Harcourt and Rialto Mills.
  3. Dwelling-house, Yard, Stable, and Premises near the First Lock of the Grand Canal Co., Dublin, held under lease, dated 25th June, 1886, from the Grand Canal Company, for 76 years from 7th July, 1886, at rent of £10.
  4. Parcel of Land at Golden Bridge, containing 8a. 2r. 24p. (Note 9), Statute measure, adjoining the Golden Bridge Mills, held under lease, dated 27th March, 1876, from Robert Fitzsimons to Thomas Clitheroe, for 35 years from 1st February, 1876, at rent of £44 12s 6d.
  5. Quarries in that part of the Lands of Golden Bridge before referred to, containing 8a. 2r. 24p., held under lease, dated the 12th December, 1878, from Valentine Frederick, Lord Cloncurry, to William Smith, for 32 years from 1st December, 1878, at rent of £10.

For further particulars apply to:

JAMES McCARTAN & CO., Public Accountants and Auditors, 17, Crow Street, Dublin.


Note 1. This is a raw material tonnage: clinker capacity around 26 tonnes.

Note 2. These were probably on the same lines as Aalborg kilns. They were probably also used for lime burning. The argillaceous Calp was more suitable for hydraulic lime than for cement.

Note 3. Probably for keeping the quarry dry.

Note 4. These were probably used in conjunction with the Freeman mills.

Note 5. Operated the twin-track incline from the quarry to the crusher.

Note 6. For briquetting rawmix as well as making housebricks. In a 60-hour week they could make 120,000 bricks. A single rawmix brick would make 3 kg of clinker, so 67,000 would make a week's clinker capacity.

Note 7. 33.02 acres or 13.362 Ha

Note 8. 0.1625 acres or 658 m2

Note 9. 8.65 acres or 3.501 Ha. 6 m of limestone extracted over this area would make about 350,000 tonnes of clinker. Only a fraction of the area was worked.