Sandsend alum house


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018140

Date first listed: 29-Apr-1998


Ordnance survey map of Sandsend alum house
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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This copy shows the entry on 14-Dec-2018 at 09:37:30.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Lythe

National Grid Reference: NZ 86022 12934


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Alum is a chemical used principally in the textile industry for fixing dyes. It is not found in a natural state in Britain but can be manufactured from some types of shale. During the medieval period in Britain alum was imported, mostly from Italy. Domestic production began in the north of England in the early 17th century. The industry flourished in the north for 200 years until the mid-19th century when it was overtaken by new techniques using shale from coal mining, whilst after 1880 aluminium sulphate replaced alum for most industrial purposes. The last English aluminium works (at Goole) closed in 1950. Approximately 50 alum sites have been identified in England. Most were along the Cleveland and Yorkshire coast. Other early sites are known on the south coast, particularly in Dorset and Hampshire. Alum works comprise two main monument types: the quarry where extraction and initial processing took place, and the alum house where final processing took place. Alum shale was extracted from quarries sited on steep inland hillsides or coastal cliffs. Initial processing on the quarry floor consisted of calcination by burning shale in clamps, and the production in settling pits of alum liquor. The liquor was transported to processing works in sealed casks or through wooden channels known as liquor troughs. Larger quarries possessed inclines and haulage gear and sometimes harbour facilities. Stores, workshops and laboratories can also survive. Evidence of secondary industries such as epsom salts and iron silicates production is also preserved at alum works. The alum industry was the first chemical industry in Britain. Its quarries and works illustrate the early stages of the industry and the technological advances through the period known as the Industrial Revolution. The alum industry also offers important information about wider changes in social and economic conditions during this period. The large scale of the industry's workings also mean that its remains are today a major component of coastal landscapes. A sample of the better preserved sites, illustrating the regional, chronological and technological range of this class of monument, is considered to merit protection.

The alum house at Sandsend preserves important evidence of alum processing, and offers scope for the study of the development of the alum industry.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the buried and standing remains of an alum house located on the north side of Sandsend Beck. Most of the monument lies beneath a car park, although the front wall of the alum house is still standing across the entrance to the car park. The standing remains of the alum house comprise a single rubble built wall pierced by two large entrances. To the rear of the wall, the further remains of the alum house and associated structures lie beneath the surface of the car park. A map of 1849 shows the alum works covering the whole area of the car park. Photographs from the 1920s and a map of 1938 show the buildings adjacent to the road still standing with the area to the rear an open space. The site became a car park after World War II and following storm damage to the sea-wall in the 1960s the coastal defences were rebuilt and the car park surfaced. It is thus considered that significant remains of the alum works have remained buried and undisturbed since the closure of the alum house. The alum house operated from 1733 and processed raw alum liquor produced from the alum quarries to the north. The liquor was transported through wooden channels known as liquor troughs directly to the alum house. The alum production ceased in 1855-60 when the nearby alum quarries closed. The sea wall lies outside the area of the scheduling. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the surface of the car park, ticket machine, signs, the wooden garages and public toilets, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 29540

Legacy System: RSM


Cranstone D, Alum industry step 3 report,
Sandsend 1925, (1925)

End of official listing