Clinker manufacture operational:1883-04/1991
Approximate total clinker production: 16.6 million tonnes (26th)
The Beeding Portland Cement Co. was founded by Richard Ballard in 1878, but there is no indication that cement was made (at least at this site) until 1883. Six Johnson chamber kilns were in operation by 1890: output 144 t/week. The plant was taken over by the Sussex company in 1897, and was considerably extended, with 8 Michele chamber kilns, 2 Schneider kilns to burn the excess dried slurry of the Michele kilns, and finally two rotary kilns were installed in 1899. The latter was the first example of an “off-the-peg” kiln package supplied by FLS, and was one of several that pre-empted APCM's abortive attempt to monopolize rotary kiln technology. The kilns started up in 1900, and appear to have run successfully from the outset. This state of the plant is particularly well documented because of a newspaper article published in October 1902.
The date of the rotary kiln start-up is of interest because in the article, the company (SPCC) claimed it was the first (apart from a few much earlier failed experiments) in Britain. FLS say the rotary kiln was unknown in Europe before they introduced it, and imply that the Shoreham kilns were the first in Britain. However, the same claim is made for other plants (see article). The actual date of light-up is not known. The FLS date (1899) is clearly of the receipt of the order. Cook gives 1902; presumably the date of the newspaper article, although the latter implies that the kilns had been operating for some time. Francis puts it “after” the Swanscombe kilns of 1901-2. Jackson says 1902. However, Spackman gives a chemical analysis of the rotary kiln clinker dated 1901. It is fair to assume that the light-up occurred in 1900 or very early in 1901. The kilns were numbers 3 and 4 in Smidth’s order list. Numbers 1 and 2 (of almost identical design) were installed at Rørdal (Aalborg), Denmark, and lit up in 1899.
Power for these kilns was by site-generated DC electricity: another first.
The chamber kilns were as follows:
The Schneider kilns were at 519833,108637 and 519835,108644. They were installed in 1900. Their combined output was limited by the amount of surplus dried slurry, and was around 230 t/week when all the Michele kilns were running. Heat consumption was around 4.1 MJ/kg.
After the installation of A3 in 1911, operation of the chamber and Schneider kilns was only during periods of high demand. Plant output was 184 t/d from the rotary kilns, plus 600 t/week from the static kilns. Chamber kilns 1-10 were removed in 1924, and kilns 11-14 and the Schneider kilns were removed in 1927. Rotary kilns A1 and A2 were removed in 1930 prior to replacement of A3.
It’s not clear why A3 was replaced with the similarly-sized second-hand B1, made up from bits from the kilns at Peters and West Kent. The tyre positions were adjusted to fit on the old kiln’s piers. The rest of the plant site was cleared and a new, minimal plant arrangement was installed. The plant ran intermittently during WWII, finally re-starting in early 1946.
The plant was completely rebuilt, mainly in the chalk quarry, in 1948-1950, and C1 and C2 were the first installation of a Vickers Armstrong design subsequently much replicated elsewhere. The plant re-build was regarded as state-of-the-art at the time by Blue Circle, and a detailed description was given in an article in Engineering. Kiln B1 (renamed C3) was kept in use as top-up capacity, and was modified in 1955/6 by addition of a Berz preheater (a design originally used on lime kilns) fed with filter-cake, “nodulized” by extrusion. This had moisture content 18-20%, compared with the typical slurry moisture of 42.5%. The 1959 Engineer article describes the pressing arrangements after a few years' operation - see below. The system was technically successful (unlike the UK Davis preheater installations – see Wilmington, Bevans, Dunstable) but was separately manned, and the presses were labour intensive, so the operating cost was higher than that of the wet kilns, and it was shut down in the recession of 1967. Kilns C1 and C2 were converted for filter cake feed (with no preheater) in 1983. One 20 m3 filter press for each kiln was installed in the quarry. The system proved to be limited by high dust loss loads, and failed to make economic production rates. The plant shut in 1991. Although clay was moved by barge in the early days, rail was used for all other purposes. The plant was on the LB&SC Horsham branch. This closed for all other traffic in 1965, with the section from Shoreham to the plant kept open. However, cement was all-road by 1970, coal supply was made tributary to Northfleet in 1974, and gypsum was last delivered by rail in 1980. The tracks were removed in 1988. Much of the plant including the kilns remain, in a state of increasing dilapidation.
Six rotary kilns were installed in three phases:
Operated: 10/1900-1912, 1919-1924
Kiln B1 (=C3)
Supplier: made up using the rear of Peters A2 (originally FLS) and a new burning zone.
Rotation (viewed from firing end): clockwise.
Supplier: Vickers Armstrong
Location: Hot end 519974,108624: Cold end 520080,108629: completely enclosed.
Operated: 2/1951 to 4/1991
Sources: Cook, pp 42, 53, 115: Francis, pp 175, 257: Jackson, pp 257, 297: Pugh, pp 51, 154, 269-270: “Cement Works at Shoreham, Sussex”, Engineering, July 27, 1951: "New Cement Works at Shoreham", Cement and Lime Manufacture, 24, 1951, pp 71-93: "Shoreham Cement Works", The Engineer 192, 27 July 1951, pp 122-126: "Filtering Cement Slurry", The Engineer, 208, 28 August 1959, p 155: 1902 Newspaper article
© Dylan Moore 2011: commenced 05/01/2011: last edit 31/12/2016.
The 1959 Engineer article describes the kiln C3 slurry filtration system as the first in Britain, although the vacuum filtration system at Billingham had been in use for nearly 30 years. It was however certainly the first to use plate-and-frame pressure presses.
The project started in January 1955, and was completed 17 months later, indicating that it was commissioned in June 1956. There were three presses, each with 80 4 ft square plates, operating at 120 psi (827 kPa). Each was said to produce about 10 tons of cake per batch. The moisture content was said to be 18-19%, and 17-18 batches were completed every 24 hours, indicating a mean cycle time of around 82 minutes. Since cake of 18.5% moisture content has a density of around 2053 kg/m3, cakes of effective dimensions 46.5 × 46.5 × 1.75 inches would weigh 127 kg, and 80 of these would yield 10.19 tonnes of cake. The kiln averaged 235 tonnes/day of clinker, and probably made as much as 265 tonnes/day at peak production, requiring 539 tonnes/day of cake. Since the three presses were producing 540 tonnes/day, there was little overtaking capacity, and occasional down-time for filter cloth cleaning and replacement would have limited the kiln production.
Nylon filter cloths had been selected, and these were said to last for about 2000 cycles each, or 3000 cycles after repairs.