Lime kilns, canal, engine sheds, etcetera
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1005810
Date first listed: 17-Oct-1980
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: West Sussex
District: Arun (District Authority)
County: West Sussex
District: Horsham (District Authority)
National Park: SOUTH DOWNS
National Grid Reference: TQ 02560 11688, TQ 02673 11618, TQ 02810 11943, TQ 03015 12242, TQ 03227 12430
Amberley lime works, 288m SSE of Wysh House.
Reasons for Designation
Limestone or chalk has been the basic ingredient for lime mortar from at least Roman times. Since the medieval period, lime has also been used as agricultural fertiliser and, since the early 19th century, widely used in a variety of other industries: as a flux in blast furnaces, in the production of gas and oil, and in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries. The lime industry is defined as the processes of preparing and producing lime by burning and slaking. The basic raw material for producing lime is limestone or chalk: when burnt at high temperature (roasted or calcined), these rocks release carbon dioxide, leaving ‘quicklime’ which, by chemical reaction when mixed with water (‘slaking’), can be turned into a stable powder - lime.
Lime burning sites varied in scale from individual small lime kilns adjacent to a quarry, to large-scale works designed to operate commercially for an extended market and often associated with long distance water or rail transport. Lime burning as an industry displays well-developed regional characteristics, borne out by the regional styles of East Anglia, West Gloucestershire or Derbyshire. The form of kilns used for lime burning evolved throughout the history of the industry, from small intermittent clamp and flare kilns, to large continuously fired draw kilns that could satisfy increased demand from urban development, industrial growth and agricultural improvement. Small-scale rural lime production continued in the later 19th and 20th centuries, but this period of the industry is mainly characterised by large-scale production and the transfer of technologies from the cement and other industries. The demand for mortars grew steadily during the 19th and 20th centuries. The successful production of mortars made with artificial cement represented an economic challenge to lime production and gradually replaced the use of lime mortars in major construction and engineering projects. From a highly selective sample made at national level, around 200 lime industry sites have been defined as being of national importance. These have been defined to represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity.
Despite some alterations and restoration, Amberley lime works survives very well with a good range of component structures. It was at one time one of the largest lime-burning complexes in West Sussex. Although restored, many of the buildings are good examples of their type and will retain archaeological information relating to the industry. The block of De Witt kilns is a particularly impressive survival. As a monument that is partly accessible to the public it is an important educational and recreational resource.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 17 November 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes a 19th and 20th century lime works surviving as upstanding structures and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated in chalk quarries east of the River Arun, near Amberley in the South Downs.
The site includes 19th century and early 20th century lime kilns, a grinding mill and canal. At the northern end of the site, on the edge of the ‘Grey Pit’ near High Titten road, are the remains of the earliest kilns dating to the about the mid 19th century. These are flare kilns in two groups, originally known as ‘No.4 kilns’ (the northernmost group) and ‘No.8 kilns’ (the southernmost group). They have small draw holes and may originally have been used for firing cement. About 180m to the south-west is a block of De Witt kilns (‘No.3 kilns’) dating to about 1905. They form a substantial rectangular brick building, which originally included 18 firing chambers (two rows of nine set back to back), and have a railway siding on each side. They were constructed to a design by Hippolyte De Witt to operate on a downdraught principle with the chambers being fired in rotation. The chambers were loaded from above and chalk was removed after firing and loaded onto railway carts at each side of the block. The kilns were altered by 1910 and most of the chambers have been converted into conventional updrought or ‘bottle’ kilns. A corrugated iron shelter is situated against the north-west side obscuring several brick-built arches. There are nine similar arches in the south-east elevation, the two northernmost arches of which are built of different brickwork and are probably surviving De Witt kilns to the original design. The De Witt chambers were 4m deep, 2.5m wide and 3m high with a raised floor and ducts for the removal of gases by a flue and chimney at the end of the block. About 350m further south-west, near New Barn Road, are two groups of updrought or ‘bottle’ kilns, originally known as ‘No.1 and No.2 kilns’. These form restored banks, each of two brick-built kilns, with round-headed draw arches. They were built in about 1870 to burn lime from the ‘White Pit’. The No.2 kilns, the easternmost group, have a corrugated iron shelter on the front of the kilns. The ancillary buildings next to these kilns include a grinding mill with two pairs of restored underdriven millstones, originally powered by a stationary steam locomotive.
On the west side of Houghton Bridge road is a 325m section of canal, which served the limeworks. It is partly in-filled but joins the River Arun on its south side. About 75m east of the canal are several surviving flare kilns and ‘bottle’ kilns, originally known as ‘No. 5 and No.6’ kilns, which were probably built in the 1860s to replace those destroyed by the construction of the railway.
In the 1840s, chalk quarrying was carried out at Amberley by hand and using explosives. Eventually two main pits comprising different types of chalk were formed; the ‘White Pit’ to the south and the ‘Grey Pit’ to the north. Chalk was moved by horse and cart to the kilns where it was fired and converted into lime. The lime produced was used for mortar, fertiliser and cement. It was transported off the site by barge, which ran from a canal linked to the River Arun. The quarries were originally used by several lime producers; however by 1876 John and Thomas Cunningham Pepper were the only producers operating on the site. They installed a standard gauge railway line at the chalk pits, allowing the transportation of lime along the main line, which had reached Amberley in 1863. Mechanical excavation took over in the mid-20th century and the site was operated by the Pepper family until 1968. It is now in use as an industrial museum; Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: WS 449
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre. History of the site., accessed 12 Aug 2009 from http://www.amberleymuseum.co.uk
English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme (1996) Industrial Monuments: The Lime, Cement and Plaster Industries. Step 3 report. Site Assessment 2.
West Sussex HER 1922 - MWS2717, 6487 - MWS7259, 2500 - MWS5577, 1926 - MWS5806. NMR TQ01SW50. PastScape 393300.
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing