Ayton Banks alum works


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020347

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1999


Ordnance survey map of Ayton Banks alum works
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This copy shows the entry on 09-Dec-2018 at 22:35:20.


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

County: North Yorkshire

District: Hambleton (District Authority)

Parish: Great Ayton


National Grid Reference: NZ 58889 10777


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

Reasons for Designation

Dummy text line - replace Dummy text line - replace 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 Ayton Banks survive well and significant archaeological remains are preserved. As a relatively short lived inland alum works, the monument offers scope for the study of early technological processes of the 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 west face of Cockshaw Hill. As well as the quarries, the monument also includes structures used for the initial processing and transportation of the alum. The Ayton Banks works was of short lived duration with a working period documented between 1765 and 1771. The works closed when more profitable alum deposits were exploited along the north east coast. The alum was extracted from shales lying beneath a sandstone overburden. The first stage of extraction was to remove the sandstone, revealing the alum shales which were then quarried in a series of terraces. As the workings expanded the quarry face retreated eastward leaving a broad quarry floor. The initial processing of the alum took place on the quarry floor. Here piles of alum shale were burnt in what was known as a calcination clamp. The remains of at least one such clamp survives on the quarry floor as a mound of partly burnt shale up to 4m in height. Further down the slope to the west are earthwork remains of other processing activities, including steeping pits and a channel known as a liqour trough, which carried processed alum as a liquid from the quarry to the alum house located outside the monument to the west. The remains of two trackways which linked different areas of the works also survive. Further remains of structures such as workshops, stores and a laboratory are thought to survive below ground level in the quarry floor. The monument lies in a wider area of industrial activity which includes remains of mining of both jet and ironstone. A brick water tank is not included in 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: 31343

Legacy System: RSM


Title: Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 6" Source Date: 1853 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing