Allerston lime kilns
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1021084
Date first listed: 12-Jan-1976
Date of most recent amendment: 26-Nov-2004
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: North Yorkshire
District: Ryedale (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SE 88368 83113
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
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
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.
The Allerston lime kilns survive extremely well. The kiln block itself is an unusually impressive structure which retains a range of architectural refinements rare in industrial monuments in rural locations. In addition the technology and working methods can be clearly understood. Taken as a whole the monument is important for the understanding of the workings and developments in the 19th century commercial lime industry.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes standing and earthwork remains of a bank of four
19th century draw type lime kilns. It is located on a south facing aspect
on the northern flank of the Vale of Pickering. The lime kilns are Listed
There has been widespread extraction and processing of lime in the area since medieval times when it was used for improving soil, the manufacture of mortar and plaster and as a building material. There was an increased demand for lime when it was used to improve the soil in intake land and reclaimed moorland during the enclosures of the late 18th and 19th centuries. The landscape is littered with remains of simple lime kilns built to meet what was primarily a very local demand. The 19th century saw a great demand for lime for use in the new and technologically improved industries of the industrial revolution as well the boom in the building trade. Consequently large scale commercial kilns were built.
Little is currently known of the history of the Allerston lime kilns. The complex is depicted on the first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1854 and is thought to have been built during the previous decade for Sir George Osbaldeston. It was built to operate on a commercial basis rather than to provide lime for immediate local use. It continued in use into the early 20th century and probably ceased operation when it was unable to compete with the more efficient and technologically advanced production systems developed elsewhere. In a sale catalogue of around 1900 it was described as "A capital set of limekilns". The size and quality of the structure indicates that it's construction was at some expense.
Although there were variations in style, size and detail all draw kilns operated on the same principles. There was a stone or brick built superstructure, known as a kiln block, which contained one or more circular or near-circular bowls, which gave way at the base to an arched opening at the front of the structure. The operation of the kiln involved placing successive layers of pieces of limestone and fuel, normally coal, into the top of the kiln bowl which were then ignited from below. The resultant burnt lime was then extracted through a draw hole at the back of the arch at the bottom of the kiln. By loading the kiln from above it was possible to maintain a number of successive burns although the kiln would have to periodically cease production for maintenance.
The Allerston lime kilns are housed in a substantial rectangular stone built kiln block measuring 30m wide by 12m deep and standing 9m high at the front, southern face. It was built on a terrace cut into the natural slope, which allowed for easy access to the top of the kilns from the rear. The front of the kiln block comprises a vertical face with an angled batter at the base. It is built of dressed sandstone blocks and has three string courses across the face. The stones forming the corners are decorated with rusticated tooling. At the base of the kiln block are four arched openings 2.5m wide and 3m, which each lead to a tunnel extending for 5m into the kiln block to the base of the individual kiln bowls. Internally the roofs of the tunnels are constructed of brick and are semicircular in shape. There are two small arched draw holes set into the base of the kiln bowl at the end of the tunnels except the easternmost where there is only one such opening.
At the front of the kiln block at the level of the arches there is a stone faced working platform 4.3m wide which was used to load processed lime onto carts. On the top of the kiln the four kiln bowls still survive. They are circular in shape and measure approximately 4m in diameter. Although the kiln bowls are in various states of collapse it can be clearly seen that they were lined in brick. To the rear of the kiln top there is a level area some 20m deep and the same width as the kiln block which is supported in the eastern and western sides by a stone revetment wall. This level area would have been used for sorting and breaking limestone into suitable sizes and for stacking fuel prior to charging the kiln bowl.
On the western side of the kiln block there is a trackway which is supported by a stone revetment wall to the south west of the kiln block. At the northern part of this revetment wall, immediately to the south west of the kiln block, there is a brick lined arched recess 3m wide and 1.5m deep which partly underlies the track. The purpose of this is not fully understood but it is thought to be a shelter for workers at the kiln.
There were two sets of quarries servicing the kiln, which were located on the higher land 500m to the north and on the limestone escarpment 150m to the east. The track to the west of the kiln block was used to access the quarries to the north. Little remains of the workings and ancillary features are known to survive in these quarries and they are not included in the monument.
The house known as Red House, 100m to the south of the kilns was originally a group of four separate cottages built to house workers for the kilns. This has been much altered and is in permanent occupation and is not included in the monument.
The surface of the track and the small pump house and associated pipework to the rear of the kiln block are all 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: 35480
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Farmer, P G, Allerston Lime Kiln, (1975)
Listed building entry,
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