Cement Kilns


Old Writings

In the interest of readability, this website does not in general cite references for individual items of information although the print document upon which it is based contains thousands of references and footnotes showing the sources of individual items of information and discussing the conflicting accounts in the many instances where sources do not agree.

The information required to produce this website has been gathered from a wide variety of public domain sources.

  • Many public domain texts have been published by industry insiders, and a selection of these are listed in the following bibliography. Many older texts are available on-line.
  • Another rich source of public domain information consists of descriptions of plants published by their owners, either as educational publicity handouts (and websites today), occasional formal histories, or articles in the technical press, the latter often going into considerable technical detail.
  • Public domain information also comes in the form of maps, planning application plans and aerial photography. In the hands of an expert, these can be translated into very detailed accounts. The large-scale Ordnance Survey maps in particular allow identification of kilns, labelled as such or not, and have been used in this work extensively to track complements of static kilns in the early period. The Old-Maps website is an invaluable resource for accessing the latter, and this website contains hundreds of sets of x,y coordinates for feeding into the Old-Maps system.
  • Many records of deceased companies are now to be found in pubic archives also listed below.

The following are books, documents and websites that have, to some degree, been consulted in compiling this site. Many other more specific sources are listed on the individual plant pages.

  • Bertram Blount, Cement, Longman, Green and Co., 1920
    Bertram Blount (1867-1921: born Blunt) was a consultant chemist and drafted the first BSI cement specification. His book describes the technology as it stood around the time of WWI and is authoritative (although not necessarily correct). He was a member of the editorial board of The Engineer, and many of its articles on cement are in his florid and prolix style.

  • The Blue Circle, house magazine of Blue Circle published quarterly 1947-1967

  • Britain from Above, website operated by English Heritage: from 2015 Historic England. A Lottery Grant funded project has digitised a random selection of the Aerofilms collections of aerial photography and has made the images available to the public on an open access basis. Free and uncomplicated registration on the website allows the user to view the images in high definition, often allowing sites to be seen in minute detail. This is what the internet is for! However, the 95,000 digitised images hardly scratch the surface of the whole Aerofilms collection, which contains 1.5 million or more images. English Heritage provide digitised high-definition copies of any specified image, provided that the catalogue number is known, and a number of these are reproduced under license in this site.

  • British Geological Survey map viewer, a free open-access portal to Britain's geological maps, much at the latest 50,000 scale revision.

  • British Newspaper Archive, website displaying the results of the gradual digitisation of British Library newspaper collection. A useful searchable source of historic information in newspapers.

  • William Alden Brown, The Portland Cement Industry, Crosby Lockwood and Son, 1916
    W. A. Brown (9/1/1865 - 8/8/1935) was a mechanical engineer and manufacturing practitioner with an unusually wide range of experience. After 17 years of Government work installing munitions, he joined APCM in 1903 and worked on the Thamesside kiln installations. 1908-1910 he was manager of a Californian plant, then 1910-1913 oversaw the rebuild of Burham. He then oversaw the building of Aberthaw before returning to armaments work in 1915. His book also dates from WWI, and gives an excellent historical perspective on developments to date. His technical understanding was decidedly modern and was way ahead of that of his contemporaries.

  • David B. Butler, Portland Cement: Its Manufacture, Testing and Use, E. & F. N. Spon, Ltd: 1st Ed 1899; 2nd Ed 1905; 3rd Ed 1913
    D. B. Butler (1866-1948) was a chemist in Henry Faija’s consultancy, worked at Folkestone and Vectis, then returned as head of Faija’s company after the latter’s death. His books are authoritative on the traditional British manufacturing techniques and correctly anticipated their rapid annihilation by rotary kiln technology.

  • Donald H. Campbell, Microscopical Examination and Interpretation of Portland Cement and Clinker, Portland Cement Association: 2nd Ed 1999
    The best introduction to cement petrography, with detailed authoritative guidance on technique and lots of dazzling graphics.

  • Cement and Cement Manufacture, journal 1928-1936, and succeeded 1937-1969 by Cement and Lime Manufacture, published by Concrete Publications. Many in-depth articles on the latest developments, often with plans and photographs. The publication subsequently morphed into Cement Technology (1970-1976), World Cement Technology (1977-1981) and World Cement (1982 to date - published by Palladian Publications).

  • Pauline Lesley Cook, "The Cement Industry" in P. Lesley Cook et al, Effects of Mergers: Six Studies, Routledge, 1958 (reprinted 2003), ISBN 0-415-31346-5
    Lesley Cook’s work is very much a standard text for the history of the British cement industry in the first half of the 20th century, frequently plundered by later authors. It is essentially an economics treatise, concerning itself with the progressive amalgamation of the industry. Perhaps because of this focus, she got little help from the largest monopolist company, and her treatment of the later history of APCM is rather limited, so as an industry outsider, she was perhaps over-reliant on the grandiloquent statements of the other much more minor players. The book concludes before the installation of the first efficient kilns in the late 1950s, and gives at least a good account of the industry’s descent into self-satisfied reliance on low technology.

  • Irish Cement 1938-1988, , CRH plc, 1988.
    Pamphlet commemorating the company's first 50 years.

  • Arthur Charles Davis, Portland Cement: 2nd Ed, Woodford Fawcett & Co, 1909
    Arthur Charles Davis, A Hundred Years of Portland Cement, Concrete Publications Ltd, 1924
    Arthur Charles Davis, Portland Cement: 3rd Ed, Concrete Publications Ltd, 1934
    A. C. Davis (1875-1951) was a chemist and engineer whose meteoric career in the first decade of the twentieth century established the pre-eminence of the chemistry and engineering disciplines in the UK industry. He was literate and au fait with the latest science, and his books are most informative although distinctly political: it is interesting to contrast his pre-1911 work (when he was an independent manufacturer and critical - to the point of contempt - of APCM) with his later work when he was APCM’s managing director. He started his career as a much-reviled maverick and ended as an industry dynast: he was Lord Mayor of London in 1945.

  • Alan Dinnis, West Medina Cement Mill, Dodnor, Isle of Wight: a History, self-published, 2016.
    A history of Vectis, with lots of pictures, maps and local information.

  • Charles Dodsworth, "The Early Years of the Oxford Cement Industry" in Industrial Archaeology, 9, 1972.
    Account of Kirtlington.

  • John Drayton, A walk back through time at Barrington Cement Works 2008-1900 and beyond, Cirrus Films, 2014.
    A video description made some years after the closure of Barrington, but including some historic stills.

  • G & T Earle Ltd., The Making and Testing of Portland Cement and Concrete, 1925, self-published.
    An elaborate and expensive 130-page hardback publicity handout from the 1920s, it contains pictures and a snapshot of the state of understanding of cement technology of the period, focusing on Earles' Humberside plants.

  • Notebooks of John Hudson Earle 1907-1914, Hull History Centre archive C DBEL/48&49
    Of monumental historical importance are the unpublished notebooks of John Hudson Earle (1856-1935). He was at the time managing director of the still independent G & T Earle, and was one of the more dynamic characters in a particularly dynamic period. The books are full of insider interviews, industrial espionage and gossip. Although they cover the whole of the business, much of the information relates to detailed technology, and they contain a great deal of otherwise-lost factual data. Also well documented in amusing detail is the development of his pathological loathing of A. C. Davis - a sentiment which Davis, to his credit, reciprocated.

  • The Engineer, magazine published 1856 to date, frequently contained in-depth articles on the latest industry developments, often with plans and photographs. Much of the early magazine (to 1960), complete with extremely beautiful technical drawings and engravings, is now available on-line, at Grace's Guide.

  • Engineering, magazine published 1866 to date, occasionally contained articles on the cement industry. The magazine is now being made available on-line by Grace's Guide.

  • David Eve, The Cement Industry in Kent, Kent County Council, 2000
    Eve’s account of the industry in Kent is essentially an industrial archaeologist’s catalogue, and is useful as a (not quite) comprehensive list of sites in the county where most of the early plants were located. Lack of inside knowledge led to a certain amount of misinterpretation.

  • Mervyn E. Foulkes, A History of Cement Making at Padeswood Works in North Wales, Knew Productions, 2006.
    Video account of Padeswood, at the time of the cessation of the wet process.

  • A. J. Francis, The Cement Industry 1796-1914: a History, David & Charles, 1977, ISBN 0-7153-7386-2
    A. J. Francis’ account of the early industry is the “standard text”, and was meticulously researched. Its approach is non-technical and focuses on the careers the industry's pioneers - he quotes Emerson: “there is properly no history, only biography”. He seems to have made much use of the large-scale Ordnance Survey maps but did not include his detailed findings in the text. I have tried to remedy this deficiency.

  • GeoScenic, a website containing the British Geological Survey's photographic archive. Although mostly of geological phenomena, there are also many images of mineral-based industries.

  • Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. In addition to a nearly complete collection of The Engineer, they are now digitising Engineering, and Proceedings of the Institutions of Mechanical and Civil Engineers are on their way. They are gradually indexing the documents and compiling a cross-referenced database.

  • Pat Gray, Forty Years by the Boyne, Drogheda Independent Co., Ltd, 1979.
    Account of Drogheda around the time of its closure.

  • P. E. Halstead, “The Early History of Portland Cement”, Newcomen Society Transactions, 34, 1961-2, pp 37-54
    A critical academic account of the early developments, made in concert with Skempton.

  • Andrew Hann, The Medway Valley: a Kent landscape transformed, Victoria County History - Phillimore, 2009, ISBN 978-1-86077-600-7

  • D. W. F. Hardie, J. Davidson Pratt, A History of the Modern British Chemical Industry, Pergamon Press Ltd., 1966.
    Eloquently expresses the importance of cement in the context of the chemical industry. Minor references to the anhydrite/sulfuric acid process.

  • P. C. Hewlett (Ed), Lea's Chemistry of Cement and Concrete: 4th Ed, Arnold, 1998, ISBN 0-340-56589-6
    The new edition of Lea's work is a collection of monographs by a variety of specialists, the first of which is "The History of Calcareous Cements" by Robert G. Blezard who had extensively researched the early products, including that of William Aspdin.

  • Vanadia S. Humphries, Kirtlington: An Oxfordshire Village, Biddles Ltd, 1986 ISBN 0-85033-584-1.
    Account of Kirtlington.

  • ICI General Chemicals Division, Description of No.1 Sulphuric Acid Plant, Billingham, internal report, 1/7/1930.
    Detailed account of the Billingham anhydrite process plant as originally constructed.

  • ICI General Chemicals Division, The Design and Construction of the United Sulphuric Acid Corporation Factory at Widnes, Lancs, internal report, 6/2/1958.
    Account of Widnes as constructed.

  • Peter J. Jackson, Cement Manufacture by UK Companies, 1914-1994, JOPET, 1999
    P. J. Jackson worked successively for APCM, Aberthaw and Rugby, retiring in the 1990s. An enthusiastic visitor and note-taker on cement plants all over the country (and abroad), his obsessive squirreling-away of facts and figures provided a database that he formalized after retirement. The plants at which he worked are often covered in minute detail, and he had access to company-level reports which add some more objective data. Other plants often receive less coverage. Most of the large amount of data presented is of the “snap-shot” variety. In addition to descriptions of the industry's hardware, there are biographies of many key people, and histories of the companies and groupings.

  • A. J. Jukes-Brown, Memoirs of the Geological Survey of the United Kingdom: The Cretaceous Rocks of Britain: Vol. III— The Upper Chalk, HMSO, 1904

  • Henry Louis Le Châtelier, Recherches expérimentales sur la constitution des mortiers hydrauliques, thesis - École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris, 1887, and republished in expanded form in 1904 (2010 reprint Kessinger Publishing ISBN 1160240167) and in 1905 in English (trans. Joseph Lathrop Mack: 2008 reprint BiblioBazaar ISBN 055495768X). Classic work on the chemistry of cement, still in print in both languages. Although most well known for his re-statement of the second law of thermodynamics ("Le Châtelier's Principle"), this illustrious chemist (1850-1936) dedicated much research time to the constitution of cement, and from his first paper on the subject (Comptes Rendues, 94, p 13, 1882) laid down a far-sighted account of the subject which, although its acceptance was slow, is essentially the modern view.

  • F. M. Lea, The Chemistry of Cement and Concrete, 3rd Ed, Edward Arnold, 1970
    The original book by Frederick M. Lea was the standard text-book on cement chemistry, successive editions tracking the development of the subject from the 1930s to the 1970s.

  • Robert W. Lesley, History of the Portland Cement Industry in the United States, International Trade Press, Inc., 1924
    President of the American Cement Company in the Lehigh Valley, he was an effective promoter of American indigenous production and became vice-president of ASTM and the first president of the Portland Cement Association. In the latter capacity he produced the authoritative history of the US industry, including much research on early cement in Europe.

  • Alban J. Lynch, Chester A. Rowland, The History of Grinding, Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, Inc., 2005, ISBN 0-87335-238-6.
    Useful source of timelines in size reduction.

  • Henry William Macrosty, The Trust Movement in British industry, Longmans, Green & Co., 1907.
    Macrosty (1865-1941) was at the time at the LSE. Includes (pp 108-116) a discussion of the formation of APCM, prefiguring Cook's book.

  • J. Manning, “Sulphuric Acid and Cement from Anhydrite” in Proceedings of the Fertiliser Society, 15, 8/11/1951.
    Technical/historical account of the Billingham anhydrite process plant.

  • Geoffrey Martin, The Theory of the Rotary Cement Kiln, British Portland Cement Research Association, 1925.
    Also, Chemical Engineering and Thermodynamics applied to the Cement Rotary Kiln, Crosby, Lockwood & Son, 1932.
    Martin (b 29/1/1881 Dover, d 3/1966 Wembley) was a lecturer in Chemistry at the University of London, and became Director of the BPCRA from 1921 to 1925. He was a well-qualified chemist, working at a time when clinker mineralogy was not yet understood. His works came to be regarded as something of a Bible by some, while others thought that he was an embodiment of the dictum that "in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king". Many of his misunderstandings of the cement making process continued to infect thinking in the English-speaking world for the rest of the century. After his brief time with the cement industry, he continued lecturing and producing texts on industrial chemistry and chemical engineering.

  • Masons Works: A Pictorial History, Blue Circle Industries Plc, 1999.
    An account of Masons produced at the time of its closure, with many historic photographs.

  • R. H. Moses et al, History of the Cement and Sulphuric Acid Plant, Billingham, 1929-1951, ICI Billingham Report, 1953.
    Technical/historical account of the Billingham anhydrite process plant, with recommendations for expansion.

  • A. E. Musson, Enterprise in Soap and Chemicals: Joseph Crosfield and Sons Ltd 1815-1965, Manchester University Press, 1965.
    A biography of Crosfield's, with some information on the cement plant.

  • Henry Osborne O'Hagan, Leaves from my life, John Lane, 1926. Anecdotal autobiography, "written from memory", of the "company promoter" who engineered the formation of Blue Circle. His entry in the Dictionary of National Biography says he was "a convivial man, with a taste for music and theatricals of the cheerier sort" and had a "liking for the company of actresses". Because the many other players in this period were more reticent with their recollections, his book has been used by historians as virtually their sole source, with great detriment to the veracity of their accounts. My own reticence (which is legendary) forbids me from commenting on him further.

  • The Pelican, house magazine of G & T Earles, published intermittently 1922-1967.

  • Kurt E. Peray, The Rotary Cement Kiln, 2nd ed, Chemical Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1986, ISBN 0-82060-367-8

  • Pitstone 50 years, Castle Cement, 1987
    A first-class in-house historical account of the plant shortly before its closure, with many good technical pictures.

  • James. M. Preston, Industrial Medway: an historical survey, private publication, Rochester, 1977, ISBN 0-950-57330-2
    J. M. Preston’s excellent work, although limited in geographical scope, provides valuable and reliable amplification of the data on the Medway industry, and corrects many misunderstandings in other texts.

  • Peter Pugh, The History of Blue Circle, Cambridge Business Publishing, 1988, ISBN 1-871341-01-9
    Pugh’s book on Blue Circle was commissioned by the company, and essentially is a City-analyst’s account of the company in the late 1980s. The historical parts are culled from the existing sources, particularly Cook. Some plants are described.

  • W. Readman, Brief record of the Casebourne Works & Portland cement manufacture 1866-1927, ICI Billingham Report, 1950.
    Historical account of the Billingham conventional plant and its antecedents provided as background to expansion plans.

  • Gilbert Richard Redgrave, Calcareous Cements: their nature and uses, C. Griffin & Co., 1895
    Gilbert Richard Redgrave & Charles Spackman, Calcareous Cements, C. Griffin & Co., 1922
    Redgrave (1844-1941) and Spackman were both independent manufacturers and consultants and their books throw light on some of the more peripheral developments in the early 20th century.

  • Henry Reid, The Science and Art of the Manufacture of Portland Cement, E. & F. N. Spon, 1877
    Henry Reid was involved in many early plants, and promoted himself as a consultant. He consulted for Rugby and became involved in a long and acrimonious dispute with them in which much mud was slung by both sides.

  • Alan W. Routledge, Marchon: the Whitehaven Chemical Works, Tempus, 2005, ISBN 0-7524-3572-8.
    History of the company, including the anhydrite process cement plant.

  • A. W. Skempton, “Portland Cements 1843-1887”, Newcomen Society Transactions, 34, 1961-2, pp 117-152
    See Halstead.

  • B. D. Stoyel, R. W. Kidner, The Cement Railways of Kent (2nd ed), Oakwood Press, 1990, ISBN 0-85361-370-2
    A meticulously researched account of the elaborate rail systems associated with the industry.

  • Peter del Strother, 75 years of Ketton Cement, Castle Cement Ltd, 2003, ISBN 0-9545416-0-x
    Peter del Strother, History of Ribblesdale Cement, Castle Cement Ltd, 2008, ISBN 978-0-9545416-1-3
    Two classy in-house histories that set the standard for plant biographies, well-illustrated, with occasional snippets of arcane technical information.

  • Harry Francis West Taylor, Cement Chemistry, 2nd ed, Thomas Telford Ltd, 1997, ISBN 0727725920.
    Hal Taylor was professor of inorganic chemistry at Aberdeen for many years and ran a well-respected research group on cement chemistry. The book remains the most authoritative on the academic side of the subject.

  • A. P. Thurston, “Parker's 'Roman' Cement”, Newcomen Society Transactions, 19, 1938, pp 193-206
    History of the rise and fall of the Roman cement industry, particularly that around Harwich.

  • Edwin A. R. Trout, Traditional Milling Technology in the English Cement Industry 1796-1899, The Mills Archive, 2015, ISSN 2051-6924.
    A good monograph on pre-ball mill grinding processes.

  • V. Turley, Illustrated History of Casebourne’s Cement Plant 1862-1972, self-published, 1972.
    Account of the Billingham conventional plant at time of closure by its last manager.

  • Horace B Woodward, The Jurassic Rocks of Britain, HMSO, 1892
    Early BGS monograph gives a lot of detail of activities of the time, particularly of the Blue Lias.

The following are institutions holding relevant documents that have been visited or contacted, and the help of whose staff is duly acknowledged.

© Dylan Moore 2011: commenced 01/01/2011: last edit 25/10/2017.