Cement Kilns

Wouldham (Essex)

Wouldham LogoWouldham Cement Co. (1900) Ltd. Maltese Cross Brand (sometimes called Red Cross). One of several, others being Delta, Keystone and Union Jack.

Location:

  • Grid reference: TQ59957757
  • x=559950
  • y=177570
  • 51°28'28"N; 0°18'12"E
  • Civil Parish: Stifford, Essex: partly in West Thurrock

Clinker manufacture operational: 1874-1976

Approximate total clinker production: 21.7 million tonnes (21st)

Raw materials:

  • Upper Chalk (Seaford Chalk Formation: 85-88 Ma) from quarries at 559800,178600 and 559800,179100. It also absorbed the quarries of the Thames and Grays plants.
  • Initially, Thames Alluvial Clay. From 1930, London Clay (London Clay Formation: 48-55 Ma) dug at 561000,181800 (South Ockendon) was slurried at the pit and pumped to the plant.

Ownership:

  • 1874-1880 Lion Cement Works Co.
  • 1880-1898 A. D. Robertson and Sons Ltd
  • 1898-1900 S. Pearson & Son Ltd
  • 1900-1911 Wouldham Cement Co. (1900) Ltd
  • 1911-1976 BPCM (Blue Circle)

This was originally called the Lion Works: it received its later name as a result of Robertson’s transfer of business from Wouldham, Kent. Originally using two wet process bottle kilns, three more were added in 1880, giving a total 150 t/week. Around 1888 a set of six chamber kilns (140 t/week) were built. A second similar set were added around 1892, and in 1896 a third set of six (170 t/week) was installed, and the bottle kilns were removed, giving a total 450 t/week in 1897. In 1898, a block of 14 chamber kilns (420 t/week) was built. Pearson’s aimed to upgrade the plant to state-of-art and formed the Wouldham company as a 50:50 partnership with J. B. White & Bros. who made over one sixth of the purported patent rotary kiln production rights to the new company, to the consternation of the other APCM participants, particularly when the new company refused to join the combine. On the strength of this, the company installed six rotary kilns in 1901, and the plant is one of those claiming (with scant justification - see article) to have operated the first successful rotary kiln.

Read a description of plant in 1902.

Although there is no explicit account to this effect , it would appear that these kilns were entirely replaced in around 1907. At this time the original six steel stacks were replaced with the five brick stacks that remained until the 1920s. The old kilns were probably used as coolers, and the original kilns may have been located in what was later the cooler house. Davis’ 1907 capacity of 2500 t/week included 870 t/week of chamber capacity and a claimed 1630 t/week (say an average 1.7 t/hr) from the rotary kilns. The third block of chamber kilns was shut down in 1911: the rest remained as top-up capacity until 1922, and remained in ruins until the closure of the plant.

Meanwhile, FLS provided kilns B7-B9. B7 and B8, identical to the contemporary Harefield A1, were immediately sufficiently successful to prompt the order of the much larger B9, which became in 1912 Britain’s largest kiln until 1922 when it was overtaken by the FLS installations at Kent. The dynamism of Wouldham at this time probably prompted FLS’s interest in the nearby West Thurrock as a demonstration project. The plant ran through both World Wars. Under Blue Circle management, development of capacity and efficiency continued with the installation of the Vickers Armstrong kilns B10 and B11, based on the design of the successful Johnsons A6 and A7. Kilns B9-B11 were operated with occasional help from the inefficient B7 and B8. Following WWII, difficulty in extending reserves and pressure from West Thurrock considerably reduced its importance in the Blue Circle hierarchy. The plant made sulfate resisting clinker alongside ordinary clinker, and later solely SR, from the late 1950 to 1976. With the closure of Metropolitan in 1970, it was the last Blue Circle plant on the north bank of the Thames. In 1974, following major re-engineering, it was written: “this large project will give the works a secure future in the Blue Circle Group”. It closed two years later. The post-oil-crisis period required reduced capacity, and its fuel consumption, still around 8 MJ/kg, made it a prime target for closure, and when the kilns stopped in August 1976, this marked the extinction of the Essex industry.

A rail link was established after WWI, but much of its product continued to be despatched by barge until closure. Kept for a while as a depot fed by barge from Northfleet, a section of silos and packing plant was kept, and remains. The rest of the site was redeveloped, and is currently covered by port facilities.

Seventeen rotary kilns were installed:

Kiln A1

Supplier: Fellner & Ziegler
Operated: 1901-1907?
Process: Wet
Location: Not known exactly, but somewhere in the vicinity of the later B1: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions: 70’0”× 4’11” (metric 21.34 × 1.499)
Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile: ?
Cooler: rotary: size?
Cooler profile: ?
Fuel: indirect fired with Coal
Coal mill: indirect fired - fine coal was provided by a set of Griffin mills shared by kilns 1-6.
Exhaust: direct to stack.
Typical Output: 24 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 10.0 MJ/kg

Kiln A2

Operated: 1901-1907?
Location: ?: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A1

Kiln A3

Operated: 1901-1907?
Location: ?: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A1

Kiln A4

Operated: 1901-1907?
Location: ?: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A1

Kiln A5

Operated: 1901-1907?
Location: ?: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A1

Kiln A6

Operated: 1901-1907?
Location: ?: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to A1

Kiln B1

Supplier: Unknown. Presumably not Fellner & Ziegler, but certainly not a continental manufacturer or Newells. They may have been made up locally.
Operated: 1907?-1929
Process: Wet
Location: Hot end 559932,177529: Cold end 559928,177559: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions: 100’0”× 8’0”B / 6’3½”CD (metric 30.48 × 2.438 / 1.918).
Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile: : 0×2438: 10363×2438: 10363×1918: 30480×1918: Tyres at 2743, 11430, 20117, 28804
Cooler: rotary 48’0”× 4’10½” (metric 14.63 × 1.486) located under the firing floor
Cooler profile: 0×1486: 14630×1486: Tyres at 1524, 11278.
Fuel: indirect: Coal
Coal mill: indirect fired - fine coal was provided by a set of Griffin mills shared by kilns 1-6.
Exhaust: direct to stack.
Typical Output: 41 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 8.9 MJ/kg

Kiln B2

Operated: 1907?-1929
Location: Hot end 559938,177529: Cold end 559934,177560: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B1

Kiln B3

Operated: 1907?-1929
Location: Hot end 559944,177530: Cold end 559940,177560: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions: 100’0”× 6’3½”CD (metric 30.48 × 1.918).
Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile: : 0×1918: 30480×1918: Tyres at 2743, 11430, 20117, 28804
Typical Output: 40 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 8.7 MJ/kg
Identical in all other respects to B1

Kiln B4

Operated: 1907?-1929
Location: Hot end 559950,177531: Cold end 559946,177561: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B3

Kiln B5

Operated: 1907?-1929
Location: Hot end 559956,177532: Cold end 559952,177562: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions: 100’0”× 8’0”B / 6’3½”CD (metric 30.48 × 2.438 / 1.918).
Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile: : 0×1918: 1829×2438: 9144×2438: 10973×1918: 30480×1918: Tyres at 2743, 11430, 20117, 28804
Typical Output: 41 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 8.9 MJ/kg
Identical in all other respects to B1

Kiln B6

Operated: 1907?-1929
Location: Hot end 559962,177533: Cold end 559958,177563: entirely enclosed.
Identical in all other respects to B5

Kiln B7

Supplier: FLS
Operated: 7?/1910-1937: 1952-1957: 1959-1962: 1965-1966
Process: Wet
Location: Hot end 559937,177572: Cold end 559979,177577: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions:

  • Initially metric 43.00 × 2.400B / 2.100CD
  • ?1920 42.98 × 2.100 (cooling) / 2.400B / 2.100CD

Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?

Kiln profile:

  • Original: 0×1725: 700×1725: 700×2100: 2100×2100: 2100×2400: 9450×2400: 11475×2100: 43000×2100: Tyres at 1300, 12350, 25100, 36850
  • After removal of cooler: 0×1829: 216×1829: 216×2100: 2057×2100: 2057×2400: 9431×2400: 11456×2100: 42976×2100: Tyres at 1276, 12326, 25076, 36826

Cooler: initially a concentric rotary cooler (metric 9.50 × 1.050 / 1.650) under the kiln, which must have been discarded: the initial front cone of the kiln was replaced at some time with a lifter cooling section: a rotary cooler was finally installed in 1956: 24’6”× 5’0” (metric 7.47 × 1.524); source unknown, but it might have been a piece of A-series kiln. The cooler was removed again in 1962.
Original cooler profile: 0×1200: 3640×1200: 3640×1050: 3920×1050: 3920×1650: 9500×1650: Tyre at 2150 with trunnion end bearing: Turning gear at tail end.
Fuel: Coal
Coal mill: indirect: ball mill
Exhaust: direct to stack.
Typical Output: 1910-1937 80 t/d: 1952-1957 95 t/d: 1959-1966 92 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1910-1937 9.0 MJ/kg: 1952-1957 8.50 MJ/kg: 1959-1966 8.37 MJ/kg

Kiln B8

Operated: 7?/1910 -1937: 1952-1957: 1960-1962: 1965-1966
Location: Hot end 559936,177579: Cold end 559978,177585: entirely enclosed.
Cooler: initially as A7: replaced at some time with a lifter cooling section: a rotary cooler was finally installed in 1956: metric 9.34 × 1.600; source unknown, but it might have been a piece of A-series kiln. The cooler was removed again in 1960.
Identical in all other respects to B7

Kiln B9

Supplier: FLS
Operated: 1?/1912 -21/06/1973: 07/08/1975-18/03/1976: made lime 1973-1975
Process: Wet
Location: Hot end (as modified, cooler ports) 559938,177589: Cold end 560013,177599: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions:

  • Originally metric 70.10 × 3.000B / 2.700CD
  • From 1929 (from cooler ports) 75.32 × 3.000B / 2.718CD

Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?

Kiln profile:

  • Original: 0×2700: 2000×2700: 2000×3000: 12000×3000: 14650×2700: 70100×2700: Tyres at 1220, 15430, 30960, 47292, 64081
  • With recuperator (from cooler ports): -495×2591: 724×2591: 4000×3000: 17336×3000: 19952×2718: 75324×2718: Tyres at 6439, 21374, 36284, 52616, 69405

Cooler: initially a concentric rotary cooler (metric 13.00×1.350/2.100) under the kiln which must have been discarded: a Vickers Armstrong reflex “Recuperator” planetary section was added in ?1929: 12 × 13’9” × 3’6” (metric 4.19 × 1.067)
Fuel: Coal, except 1962-1968 Oil, and 1970-1975 mixed firing, average 34% oil
Coal mill: direct: Ernest Newell ball mill
Exhaust: initially direct to stack. An ID fan was added in the early 1930s and an electrostatic precipitator in 1936.
Typical Output: 1912-1919 201 t/d: 1919-1930 238 t/d: 1930-1940 255 t/d: 1940-1951 240 t/d: 1951-1962 283 t/d: 1962-1970 277 t/d: 1970-1976 271 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1912-1919 8.26 MJ/kg: 1919-1930 7.74 MJ/kg: 1930-1940 7.14 MJ/kg: 1940-1951 7.23 MJ/kg: 1951-1962 7.68 MJ/kg: 1962-1970 8.19 MJ/kg: 1970-1976 7.95 MJ/kg

Kiln B10

Supplier: Vickers Armstrong
Operated: 01/1930-08/1974
Process: Wet
Location: Hot end (cooler ports) 559937,177601: Cold end 560032,177611: entirely enclosed.
Dimensions: (from cooler ports) 314’7”× 13’10”B / 10’1¼”C / 13’1”D (metric 95.89 × 4.216 / 3.080 / 3.988)
Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile: (from cooler ports): -584×3150: 864×3150: 4369×3607: 17729×3607: 19609×4216: 31801×4216: 33731×3080: 78638×3080: 80569×3988: 95885×3988: Tyres at 6807, 23876, 37135, 54127, 71425, 87884
Cooler: Reflex “Recuperator” planetary 12 × 18’2” × 3’11½” (metric 5.54 × 1.207)
Fuel: Coal, except 1962-1968 Oil, and 1970-1974 mixed firing, average 34% oil
Coal mill: direct: Ernest Newell ball mill
Exhaust: initially direct to stack. An ID fan was added in the early 1930s and an electrostatic precipitator in 1936.
Typical Output: 1930-1938 452 t/d: 1938-1945 483 t/d: 1945-1952 511 t/d: 1952-1961 518 t/d: 1961-1968 511 t/d: 1968-1974 467 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1930-1938 7.51 MJ/kg: 1938-1945 7.39 MJ/kg: 1945-1952 7.34 MJ/kg: 1952-1961 7.57 MJ/kg: 1961-1968 7.96 MJ/kg: 1968-1974 8.06 MJ/kg

Kiln B11

Supplier: Vickers Armstrong
Operated: 1937-07/03/1972: 09/07/1974-18/08/1976
Process: Wet
Location: Hot end (cooler ports) 559935,177611: Cold end 560041,177625: hot end enclosed.
Dimensions: (from cooler ports) 348’11”× 11’6”B / 10’1¼”C / 11’6”D (metric 106.35 × 3.505 / 3.080 / 3.505)
Rotation (viewed from firing end): ?
Slope: ?
Speed: ?
Drive: ?
Kiln profile: (from cooler ports): -584×3353: 864×3353: 4369×3505: 25629×3505: 28372×3080: 77953×3080: 80696×3505: 99517×3505: 102514×3353: 105258×3353: 105258×2134: 106350×2134: Tyres at 6883, 24409, 46279, 68148, 89484, 104445
Cooler: Reflex “Recuperator” planetary 12 × 14’7” × 3’11½” (metric 4.44 × 1.207)
Fuel: Coal, except 1962-1968 Oil, and 1970-1975 mixed firing, average 34% oil
Coal mill: direct: Ernest Newell ball mill
Exhaust: via ID fan and electrostatic precipitator.
Typical Output: 1937-1945 471 t/d: 1945-1954 500 t/d: 1954-1963 487 t/d: 1963-1976 451 t/d
Typical Heat Consumption: 1937-1945 7.32 MJ/kg: 1945-1954 7.31 MJ/kg: 1954-1963 7.52 MJ/kg: 1963-1976 7.92 MJ/kg


Sources: Cook, pp 29, 56: Francis, pp 206, 258-259: Jackson, pp 267, 285, 303: Preston, p 172: Pugh, pp 28, 69, 78, 272: The Blue Circle, 12 (January 1958) pp 2-10: ibid, 30 (1976) pp 11: The Engineer, XCIV, July 11, 1902, p 45: Wouldham 100 Centenary Book, 1974 (Blue Circle ref WB15 1974): Victoria County History of Essex, Vol 2, p 493

Read the 1902 Engineer article.

© Dylan Moore 2011: last edit 22/08/15.

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Old Maps

Wouldham DetailThis is a composite map containing details from different eras that may not have co-existed.

Approximate capacity: tonnes per year
Wouldham (Essex) Capacity

Picture: ©English Heritage - NMR Aerofilms Collection. Britain from Above reference number EPW017655.
Britain from Above features some of the oldest and most valuable images of the Aerofilms Collection, a unique and important archive of aerial photographs. You can download images, share memories, and add information. By the end of the project in 2014, 95,000 images taken between 1919 and 1953 will be available online.
This was taken on 26/4/1927 and shows the plant from the west. All nine rotary kilns appear to be operating. The larger kilns 10 and 11 were installed in the area to the left. The wreckage of all the old chamber kilns and slurry lagoons had not yet been cleared. View in High Definition.