Lime kilns 400m south west of Furlands
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1021190
Date first listed: 15-Apr-2004
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: North Yorkshire
District: Hambleton (District Authority)
County: North Yorkshire
District: Hambleton (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SE 43699 90313
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 lime kilns 400m south west of Furlands survive well. In addition to the kiln block itself there are also remains of the stone yard and mineral railway, all of which adds to the understanding of the technology and working methods. Taken as a whole the monument is important for the understanding of the workings and developments in the 19th century commercial lime industry.
The monument includes standing and earthwork remains of a set of four 19th
century draw type lime kilns. Also included are remains of the former
stone yard and a road bridge to the west of the kilns and a short section
of the mineral railway immediately to the east of the kilns.
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. Demand for lime increased in the late 18th and 19th centuries when it was used to improve the soil intake land and reclaimed moorland. 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.
The Kepwick lime kilns were built in the early 1830s by Colonel Sir Joshua Crompton, owner of the Kepwick estate, and were operational by 1833 when the mineral railway from the quarries was completed. The kilns were built close to the Thirsk to Yarm turnpike road (now the A19) where coal for fuelling the lime burning could be easily brought in and the finished lime sent to market. The railway and the kilns closed in 1893.
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. This 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 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 Kepwick kilns are housed in a substantial rectangular stone-built west-facing kiln block. This measures 30m wide, stands approximately 8m high at the front and is built against a steep face cut into the natural slope. The front of the kiln block comprises a vertical face built of dressed limestone blocks supported by two angled buttresses. At the bottom of the southern part of the kiln block there are three arched openings which each lead to a tunnel extending inside to the base of the kiln bowls. The central arch measures 4m wide and the two flanking arches are 2.5m wide. All measure 2m in height. Internally the roofs of the tunnels are semicircular in shape and there is small arched draw hole at the end, set into the base of the kiln bowl. The kiln bowl over the central tunnel was served by an unusual rectangular charge hole, which still survives at the top of the kiln. Originally there was a fourth arch and kiln bowl to the south of the surviving three. Although this has collapsed, the left hand side of the arch front still survives. On the top of the kiln block there is a stone platform built next to the edge which is thought to have been the base for a crane used to hoist fuel to the charge holes.
To the west of the kiln block, defined by a track way to the south and west and the field boundary to the north, was the area known as the stone yard where raw materials and finished lime could be stored and a range of associated activities took place. Maps of 1854 and 1894 show that on the north side of the stone yard there was a range of buildings, which would have included stores, workshops, shelter and stabling. The most easterly of these still survives as a roofed structure butting against the face of the kiln block immediately north of the arches although this is not included in the monument. The other buildings have now gone although the stone footings are still visible. The 1894 map also depicts a weigh bridge in the stone yard.
Access to the stone yard from the west was via a road known as Lime Kiln Road, which connected with the Yarm to Thirsk turnpike. Immediately to the west of the stone yard and included in the monument is a bridge which carried Lime Kiln Road over Woundlands Beck. It is built of dressed stone and has a single plain vaulted semicircular arch. It measures 6m in length and is 3m wide. Immediately upstream of the bridge the eastern bank of the beck is revetted by stonework and there is a short flight of stone steps leading down to the water.
To the east of the kiln block there are remains of the mineral railway, which brought limestone to the kilns. It survives within the monument as an embankment 10m wide and 100m long, which is revetted with stones along the southern side. The embankment terminates approximately 10m to the east of the front of the kiln block and in between there is a level area where the limestone and fuel would have been sorted and prepared prior to loading into the kiln bowls.
The mineral railway originally extended to limestone quarries located on the western edge of the Hambleton Hills approximately 5km to the east. For the bulk of its length the railway carried horse drawn wagons over the relatively flat agricultural plain to the west. These were then hauled over the steep slope to the quarries by a gravity-powered self-acting incline. The line of the railway can still be traced in the landscape as embankments, cuttings and farm tracks. Three bridges originally carrying the railway still survive. None of the sections of mineral railway to the east of the protected area or the associated quarry workings are included in the monument.
In addition to limestone, records show that ironstone, jet and coal were also exploited on the Kepwick Estate. It is possible that the mineral railway and stone yard were also used to transport and store some of this material.
A number of features are excluded from the monument. These include the standing building adjacent to the kiln block, the surface of all tracks and the clay pigeon traps. The ground beneath these features is however 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: 35486
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Morley, M C, 'Industrial Railway Record' in The Kepwick Railway, (1984), 178-182
Morley, M C, 'Industrial Railway Record' in The Kepwick Railway, (1984), 79-82
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