Cement Kilns



  • Grid reference: SY93538637
  • x=393530
  • y=86370
  • 50°40'37"N; 2°5'29"W
  • Civil Parish: Arne, Dorset

Clinker manufacture operational: 1875-1922

Approximate total clinker production: 73,000 tonnes

Raw materials:

  • Grey Chalk (Zig-zag Chalk Formation: 94-97 Ma) and Chalk Marl (West Melbury Marly Chalk Formation: 97-100 Ma) from quarry at 393300,82050, Church Knowle, Dorset
  • Clay Tailings ?


  • 1874-1908 Dorset Lime and Cement Co. Ltd (proprietor Thomas Page Powell)
  • 1908-1911 Dorset Portland Cement Co. Ltd
  • 1911-1922 BPCM (Blue Circle)

Despite Francis’ statement that it was formed in the 20th century, the company was launched in 1874. The plant seems to have started out making lime, and gradually transferred part or all its capacity to Portland cement. The raw material was obtained from a long, narrow quarry on the south side of the Corfe ridge where the Lower Chalk forms a narrow outcrop, and was stated to be marl. The early product was probably of marginal standard. Since higher grade chalk was also quarried, clay tailings from the nearby Ridge ball clay refining plant may have been used, but white lime was also produced. There were initially three bottle kilns. By 1881 , there were four, and by the time of the 1889 map this had increased to five. These were small kilns – 10’ diameter instead of the usual 17’ - and can’t have made more than 70 t/week in total: Davis’ 1907 capacity of 90 t/week is probably an overestimate. The process in 1881 was dry, using a pugging mill and brick extruder.

Raw materials, despite the existence of a mineral railway most of the way from the Purbeck hills, were brought by horse and cart, having first been brought down the hillside by an inclined tramway: the total distance was 7 km. The plant had no rail connection and probably carted its product for shipment by water from Ridge Quay at 393800, 87200, or by rail from Wareham station (3.5 km).

As a low-tech plant, although its existence is testified until 1922, it is likely that BPCM shut it down shortly after acquisition. It may have been briefly re-started in the early 1920s. The site had been cleared by the time of the 1925 map and is now residential.

No rotary kilns were installed.

Sources: Francis, p 265: Jackson, pp 277, 294: Pugh, p 51: Newspaper articles

© Dylan Moore 2011: last edit 02/07/2015.

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Old Maps

Approximate capacity: tonnes per year
Wareham Capacity