Townhead lime kilns and associated features including part of a tramway on Rusby Hill and Ladslack Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021108

Date first listed: 03-Sep-2004


Ordnance survey map of Townhead lime kilns and associated features including part of a tramway on Rusby Hill and Ladslack Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Eden (District Authority)

Parish: Ousby

National Grid Reference: NY 64902 34582


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.

Townhead lime kilns and associated features including part of a tramway on Rusby Hill and Ladslack Hill survive well. The kilns themselves are a very distinctive, elaborate and impressive construction thought to be unique in the region. Together with the tramway and other associated features the monument is assessed as being clearly of national importance.


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


The monument includes Townhead lime kilns and associated features including approximately 700m of the lower part of a tramway down which limestone was transported from quarries high on Ladslack Hill. The kiln and adjacent associated features are located a short distance above the north bank of Arndale Beck while the tramway runs from the kiln uphill across the south eastern slopes of Rusby Hill and onto Ladslack Hill.

The lime kilns are of mid to late 19th century construction and consist of a massive limestone double kiln up to 8m high built from a combination of mixed limestone rubble, boulders and dressed stone. Each kiln has three draw holes or eyes set within unusual and elaborate pointed draw arches. Limestone and fuel was added via a single firebrick-lined oval-shaped charge hole measuring 7m long by 2m wide. A huge limestone buttress flanks the eastern side of the kiln and is thought to have supported a crane or hoist for transferring limestone from the end of the tramway into the charge hole. To the rear of the kilns there is a large sub-circular flat area thought to be a storage point for stone and fuel awaiting burning. Adjacent to a track a short distance to the west of the kilns is a horseshoe-shaped enclosure about 10m in diameter which is thought to have been used to store burned lime awaiting transportation. A tramway down which limestone was transported from the quarries to the kilns runs steeply uphill and the part included in the scheduling runs from the kilns for approximately 700m to NY65203484. The rails remain in situ although largely grass-covered. In places the tramway runs as a low grass-covered stone and earth embankment up to 4m wide whilst in other places it runs as a hillside terrace or a shallow cutting up to 1m deep. The kilns are all draw hole type kilns which were used to burn limestone. Typically the limestone was tipped into the kilns from above 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.

All fences and fenceposts 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: 35011

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Townhead lime kiln, (1996)

End of official listing