Clinker manufacture operational: ~1863 to 2/6/1939
Approximate total clinker production: 1.96 million tonnes
Peter Otto Eduard Trechmann was born in Wilster, not far from Lägerdorf, in 1820, and set up at Seaham as a shipping agent. The Warren plant had previously been used for "Roman Cement" manufacture. Hart Warren, the dune-line stretching north-west from Hartlepool, had been used as a dump for chalk ballast by the Hartlepool docks, and Portland cement manufacture started shortly after Trechmann’s takeover. Initially there were five wet process bottle kilns; this was expanded to thirteen (390 t/week) by 1885. A set of five pairs of Dietzsch kilns and a set of ten chamber kilns were added in the late 1880s. All except five bottle kilns were removed. Trechmann, with his German contacts, was the first British manufacturer to use Dietzsch kilns. Capacity at this stage was Dietzsch 500, chamber 265 and bottle 150 t/week. The plant was one of a few in the area that experimented with the use of slag in the early 1900s. Around 1904-1905, two rotary kilns were installed, the bottle kilns were removed, and all the chamber kilns were decommissioned by 1906. The Dietzsch kilns gave 500 t/week, and the rotaries 400, giving Davis’ 1907 capacity of 900 t/week. Trechmann’s was primarily a shipping business from the outset, and this allowed it to continue moving chalk from the Thames after other manufacturers had given up. However, almost all its fleet was lost during WWI, and the shipping business was wound up in 1919. This is probably also the time when the Purfleet quarry was sold, and the plant was modified for grinding hard limestone. Capacity was said to be 1200 t/week eventually .
The plant was the last of those in the north-east dependent on remote raw materials, and its demise, although logically inevitable, was drawn-out and surrounded in mystery. Francis says that the cement company was sold to ICI in 1919. In the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for Charles Taylor Trechmann (55, p 249), it is said that the family business was sold to ICI “about 1924”. Both these statements (presumably with a common origin) are suspect since ICI did not exist before December 1926. 1924 was the year in which shipment of anhydrite to the SA&N plant at Billingham began. The plant was run down during the depression and ceased production in 1939, although it remained in operating order in expectation of new finance. A parliamentary question was raised concerning its failure to obtain government assistance. However, Herdman (op cit) states that there was a fixed 99 years life for the plant stipulated in the original lease of May 1840. The company (Otto Trechmann Ltd ) was bought out by a consortium of Blue Circle, Tunnel and Rugby in mid-1939 and the plant was promptly decommissioned. Herdman says some of the machinery was sold to ICI. The site remained abandoned until 1948, when it was completely cleared, and the site remains mainly waste ground. The plant, being close to Hartlepool docks, had good road, rail and water transport facilities.
The plant had its own anhydrite mine, which operated from 1924 to 1930. Since it must have had a substantial output, employing as many as 190 underground workers, it must have sold most or all its product to SA&N and ICI. It shut down in 1930. Charles Taylor Trechmann (Otto’s grandson) was a prominent geologist. He drilled deep boreholes in the locality and wrote extensively on the geology of the Durham coast. The subsequent development of the anhydrite mine at Billingham (1927) was due largely to his work.
Please contact me with any relevant information or corrections. I am particularly interested in firmer dates and statistics.
Three rotary kilns were installed:
Supplier: Fellner & Ziegler
Operated: ?10/1905 - 1915: 1918 - 1936
Supplier: Ernest Newell
© Dylan Moore 2011: last edit 11/02/2016.