Downham lime kiln and associated lime yard 50m north of Smithfield Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021015

Date first listed: 06-Oct-2003


Ordnance survey map of Downham lime kiln and associated lime yard 50m north of Smithfield Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lancashire

District: Ribble Valley (District Authority)

Parish: Downham

National Grid Reference: SD 78902 44467


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

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.

Downham lime kiln survives well and is a good example of a small-scale local commercial lime kiln. It is a rare example in north west England of a lime kiln complete with an associated lime yard.


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


The monument includes Downham lime kiln and an associated lime yard located on the north side of Twiston Lane 50m north of Smithfield Farm. It is a single pot flare or draw type kiln which was used to burn limestone. Flare and draw kilns are structurally very similar and without documentary evidence considerable difficulty can be encountered when trying to distinguish these in the field. In the published literature the term flare kiln is broadly applied to a permanent stone structure that was operated as an intermittent kiln with fuel and stone kept separate, whereas the draw kiln is generally taken to be a continuous, mixed-feed kiln (although a kiln built and charged as a draw kiln could also be operated on an intermittent basis).

Typically the limestone was tipped into the kiln from the top via the charge hole then burned using wood, coal or coke as a fuel. The resultant quicklime, also known as birdlime or slaked lime, was then shovelled out from the draw hole at the bottom of the kiln. Lime has many uses including spreading on lime deficient soils to encourage plant growth, the whitewashing of walls and ceilings of buildings, and concrete and cement production.

The lime kiln is located at the rear of a stone-walled lime yard which was used for storage. It is constructed of blocks of coursed limestone rubble and built into the hillside. There is an arched opening giving access to the draw hole, also known as the fire hole. Above is a rounded stack containing the charge hole which is now largely infilled.

All fences, fence posts and gates are excluded from the scheduling, 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: 35005

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Trueman, M, Downham lime kiln, (1999)

End of official listing