Ash Holm alum works, 350m south east of Mulgrave Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018337

Date first listed: 19-Mar-1999


Ordnance survey map of Ash Holm alum works, 350m south east of Mulgrave Castle
© 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.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1018337 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 09-Dec-2018 at 19:44:38.


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

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Hutton Mulgrave

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Lythe


National Grid Reference: NZ 84224 11456


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 works at Ash Holm still survive and significant remains of the technological processes are preserved. As an early and relatively short lived inland alum works, important evidence of early processes will be preserved, together with evidence for cement stone exploitation. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the considerable amount of documentary evidence which survives. The early date of the site and the fact that it was short-lived is particularly noteworthy. Few comparable sites survive and consequently this example preserves significant information on the technology of the early alum industry.


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


The monument includes the remains of the alum quarries and associated features in the south face of East Row Beck valley in Mulgrave Woods, 350m south east of Mulgrave Castle. As well as the quarries, the monument also includes structures used for the initial processing and transportation of the alum. The Ash Holm works was established by 1609 and was one of the first group of alum works opened in the area. The works closed in the 1730s, partly because the inland location and falling prices made the works unprofitable and also because Mulgrave Woods was being landscaped as a formal park. The quarry includes a massive scoop cut into the south face of the river valley. At the south face there is a near vertical quarry face above a series of terraces which represent the working platforms for extracting the alum shale. Below the face is a steep scarp slope partly obscuring the terraces with large stone and boulders strewn around. To the east and west sides of the scoop the sides slope to the central quarry floor. At the base of the quarry face, extending northward, is a confused series of spoil tips. These tips are of both quarry waste and spent shale, discarded after the process known as steeping. There are a number of waterlogged ponds adjacent to the tips which are interpreted as the remains of steeping pits which produced a liquid known as alum liqour, one of the initial processes. Further north on lower ground are more spoil tips and earthworks from features associated with the later stages of processing. The alum works utilised the natural slope of the land in order to have easy movement of alum liquor from one process to another. There is a clearly defined tramway extending northward from the area of processing works. Further remains of structures such as the alum house where final processing took place as well as workshops, a laboratory, offices and stores are thought to survive below ground level. The site was also exploited for cement stone mining, using calcereous nodules mined from the alum shales. The mining for cement stone has partly obscured the remains of the alum works. The production of cement may also have stopped when the Mulgrave Woods was formally emparked in the 18th century. The footbridge is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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: 31333

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Harrison, A, 'The Cleveland Industrial Archaeologist' in The Early Years Of Alum Making In Guisborough, , Vol. No. 12, (1980), 5-9
G Lee, (1998)

End of official listing