Cement Kilns



  • Grid reference: TQ91926475
  • x=591920
  • y=164750
  • 51°20'58"N; 0°45'22"E
  • Civil Parish: Murston, Kent: a few plant buildings and part of the brick plant were in Sittingbourne.

Clinker manufacture operational: 1858-1970

Approximate total clinker production: 6.9 million tonnes

Raw materials:

  • Upper Chalk (Seaford Chalk Formation: 85-88 Ma) pumped as slurry from quarries at:
    • 591050,162050, Murston parish
    • 590700,161900, Sittingbourne and Tunstall parishes
    • 590400,161700, Sittingbourne and Tunstall parishes
  • Alluvial Clay from Murston pits 592800,165700 by rail


  • 1858-1865 George Smeed and Co.
  • 1865-1871 Webster and Co.
  • 1871-1876 Burham Brick, Lime and Cement Co. Ltd
  • 1876-12/1926 Smeed, Dean and Co. Ltd
  • 12/1926-12/1927 Dunstable Portland Cement Co. Ltd
  • 12/1927-1931 Red Triangle
  • 1931-1970 APCM (Blue Circle)

Also known as Smeed & Dean’s and Murston Works. Smeed, Dean and Co. were a horizontally-integrated company producing cement, lime, bricks, fruit and jam. The company was the largest producer of London Stock bricks, and the brick plant at Sittingbourne, at one time Britain’s largest, continues in business today. Currently owned by Weinerberger, it is still called Smeed Dean Plant. The stock brick process used both clay and chalk, and Portland cement making was started as a sideline in 1858, with wet process bottle kilns. By 1876 there were eight of these, making around 220 t/week. Another 12 had been added by 1898, giving a total capacity of 550 t/week. In 1902, the bottle kilns were replaced with a block of twenty chamber kilns, giving Davis’ 1907 capacity of 600 t/week. After this, rapid expansion took place, with a total 50 chamber kilns in place by 1914. These remained in operation until the rotary kilns were installed. The original rotary coolers (dimensions unknown) were replaced with recycled Wouldham (Essex) kilns in 1940 and 1948. The plant never had a rail link, and used the increasingly silted Milton creek for water transport originally. Available reserves were nearly exhausted by 1970 and the plant was one of those earmarked for replacement by Northfleet. The cement plant site was cleared and redeveloped. The clay pits are flooded, and the chalk quarries are waste land.


There were two washmills and two screeners at the chalk quarry producing chalk slurry that was pumped by 3.1 km pipeline to the plant, where it was combined with clay in a further washmill and screener.

Two rotary kilns were installed.

Kiln A1

Supplier: FLS
Operated: 5/1926-30/11/1970
Process: Wet
Location: Hot end 591909,164746: Cold end 591956,164796: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions, metric:

  • 1925-1940: 70.08 × 2.700 / 2.400
  • 1940-1970: 68.94 × 2.700 / 2.400

Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: 1/25 (2.292°)
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile:

  • 1925-1940: 0×2700: 18570×2700: 20700×2400: 70080×2400: tyres at 3000, 17250, 31450, 46050, 62850
  • 1940-1970: 0×2248: 3016×2700: 17426×2700: 19556×2400: 68936×2400: tyres at 1856, 16106, 30306, 44906, 61706

Cooler: rotary 59’6”× 6’4” (metric 18.14 × 1.930) beneath kiln: second-hand (ex Burham?), installed 1940: previously concentric? or early Unax? At the same time, the kiln nose was changed to a cone, complete with tyre, presumably by Vickers Armstrong.
Cooler profile: 0×2235: 1168×2235: 1778×1930: 18136×1930: Tyres at 3048, 13919
Fuel: Coal
Coal mill: Semi-indirect: ball mill
Typical Output: 1925-1936 140 t/d: 1936-1950 165 t/d: 1950-1970 232 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1925-1936 8.28 MJ/kg: 1936-1950 7.85 MJ/kg: 1950-1970 7.40 MJ/kg

Kiln A2

Operated: 9/1927 to 30/11/1970
Location: Hot end 591917,164738: Cold end 591964,164789: entirely enclosed.
Cooler: as Kiln A1 - original replaced in 1948.
Typical Output: 1927-1936 140 t/d: 1936-1950 159 t/d: 1950-1970 227 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1927-1936 8.16 MJ/kg: 1936-1950 7.87 MJ/kg: 1950-1970 7.44 MJ/kg
Identical in all other respects to A1

Sources: Cook, p 75: Francis, pp 196-197: Jackson, pp 287, 298: Pugh, p 270

© Dylan Moore 2011: commenced 19/07/2011: last edit 13/03/2017.

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Old Maps

A detail plan of the plant has been partially completed, but further progress is prevented by lack of information on the layout of the earlier plant. These are to be found in the Greenhithe archive, which remains inaccessible.

Approximate capacity: tonnes per year
Sittingbourne clinker capacity

Sittingbourne cement plant 1968
Picture: ©English Heritage - NMR Aerofilms Collection. Catalogue number A179322. A high-definition version can be obtained from English Heritage. This was taken in 1968, viewed from the southeast. Chalk slurry pumped from the quarry was ground with clay in the washmill at the bottom. The kiln house is in the centre. The steel stack and four APCM "Unit Precipitators" were installed a few years earlier. Kiln 1 had originally used one of the stacks of the chamber kilns, which occupied the area to the left.