Shoreham Cement Works, West Sussex
Shoreham Works was established in 1883 to produce cement. The first ever Vickers Armstrong design of rotary kiln was installed in 1940s. The site closed in 1991.
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The Beeding Portland Cement Company was founded in 1878 and began producing cement at the site in Upper Beeding near Shoreham in 1883. Six Johnson Chamber kilns were used and could produce up to 144 tonnes of cement per week.
In 1897 the site was taken over by Sussex Portland Cement and was expanded considerably. Eight Michelle Chamber kilns were established, along with two Schneider kilns which burnt off excess dried slurry. By 1900 two rotary kilns had been installed, these are likely to be the first operational rotary kilns in the country. They were powered by DC electricity generated on site.
The plant was completely re-built in 1948-1950 and the arrangement of buildings that still stands today was established in the chalk quarry basin. These buildings contain the first ever installation of a Vickers Armstrong design of rotary kiln, which was subsequently widely replicated elsewhere. This installation was considered state-of-the-art at the time. Typical output of each kiln was around 550 tonnes per day. The establishment of good transport links by rail and road made such output feasible. 1
The kilns are 350ft long and 10ft wide. Slurry was fed into them and pulverised coal was then blown in and ignited. This process burnt the slurry at 2500°F and the resultant red-hot clinker was dropped into open ended cooling tubes. The tubes carried air upwards to avoid dust escaping inside the building. High-output levels coupled with this dust extraction method inevitably brought with it high levels of pollution. For many years the area surrounding the site had a constant covering of dust, giving everything a whitish-grey tint. 2
I’d spotted images from this place pop up on the odd occasion and liked the look of those huge parallel pipes. So, when I found myself heading down south for a weekend I decided to make Shoreham the last stop on the first day. I did wonder why the place didn’t appear to get very many visits, but still expected it to be an easy mooch. I soon realised I was wrong! Turning up on my own in the middle of the afternoon with no info, I discovered the place is locked down pretty tight and the multiple security guys are certainly on the ball. But, I’d driven a long way, I wasn’t going to give up that easily. Fast forward and I’m below the huge pipes, hiding from the vehicles being driven around the semi-live site. The successful and rewarding visit ended when the sun had set, shortly after bathing the site in the golden hour’s lovely glowing tones.
- Source: http://www.cementkilns.co.uk/cement_kiln_shoreham.html ↩
- Source: http://www.shorehambysea.com/chalk-a-history-of-shoreham-beeding-cement-works.html
The kilns were highly successful but they were labour intensive to operate. They were converted to filter cake feed in 1983 with a filter press. This arrangement ultimately limited production, and along with the high dust loss was one of the reasons for the plants closure in 1991.
The site was acquired by a developer in 1997 who have since made the extensive hard standings and buildings available for mixed-used business purposes. Proposals for comprehensive redevelopment of the entire site are ongoing. [3. Source: http://www.hargreaves.co.uk/component/iproperty/?view=property&id=58:shoreham-cement-works ↩