Clinker manufacture operational: 1852-1939
Approximate total clinker production: 2.0 million tonnes
Otherwise known as Dodnor Works or West Medina Works. The plant commenced about 1840 for manufacture of Roman cement, probably also making Frost’s “British cement”, the location being chosen, as with many other early plants, because of the availability of a tidal mill, the dam of which is at the south end of the site. Septaria for Roman cement were dredged from the Medina and from reefs off the coast of the Isle of Purbeck. Portland cement production began in 1852 or a little earlier. There were 18 wet process bottle kilns in 1866, not all of which may have been used for Portland cement. In 1882 four more were built. Between 1888 and 1897, chamber kilns were built in sets of two (60 t/week), five (150), two (60) and five (155). In 1902 a further block of six (130 t/week) was added, and a Schneider kiln, burning surplus slurry dryings. By this time the bottle kilns were disused and were demolished after WWI. It became one of only two plants (the other being Arlesey) outside the Thames/Medway area comprising APCM in 1900. The rotary kiln was inserted between the second and fifth blocks of chamber kilns, and all but the last block were allowed to fall into ruin. The last block was only used for top-up capacity, being last used in 1926. The plant, which had supplied far-flung parts of Britain and the export market for which its water-only transportation was acceptable, became irrelevant as the industry established itself in the north and west, and raw material reserves were too slight to warrent a plant upgrade. WWII finally rendered it inoperable. The plant was on the Newport-Cowes railway, and used it for chalk haulage, but its cement distribution was almost exclusively by water, especially in its heyday, when it exported globally. The site became a depot for the Isle of Wight, taking in cement from Thames-side and Rodmell. The plant remained intact apart from the rotary kiln and has only recently been cleared for redevelopment.
The plant always used washmills. In its rotary kiln manifestation, clay was milled in a separate washmill, then the chalk was washed with clay slurry in a rough-mill screener-mill combination.
One rotary kiln was installed:
Supplier: ?Ernest Newell or Krupp. The design of the kiln house and the drive pier are identical to those by Newell at Burham, but the plant does not appear on Newell's reference list, and there is a local suggestion that the kiln was "German". However, the latter may only refer to the calcinator.
Rotation (viewed from firing end): anti-clockwise.
Sources: Francis, pp 54-60, 168, 175-178: Jackson, p 301: Alan Dinnis, West Medina Cement Mill, Dodnor, Isle of Wight: a History, W. J. Nigh & Sons Ltd, 2016, ISBN 0950412635: there is a remarkable video at the East Anglian Film Archive showing the quarries and plant in operation shortly before closure.
© Dylan Moore 2011: last edit 16/07/2016.
This is a composite map containing details from different eras that may not have co-existed.Approximate capacity: tonnes per year