Brockham Lime Works: lime kilns and hearthstone mine


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Brockham Lime Works: lime kilns and hearthstone mine
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Mole Valley (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 19836 51015

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.

The standing remains of the two batteries of lime kilns at Brockham survive in remarkably good condition. They represent a unique survival of two important 19th-century lime kiln types, the flare kiln and the Brockham-patent kiln. As the type-site for the Brockham-patent kiln, the history and development of the kilns here is both well-documented and well-understood. The patent was internationally known and influenced the development of lime kilns worldwide.

Surviving examples of Brockham-patent kilns are relatively rare and these are believed to be the best-preserved examples. Whilst the eastern battery survives largely intact, the partial deterioration of the western battery has revealed some structural details and, as a result of partial infilling, buried remains within the kiln structure will survive relatively undisturbed. The association of the lime works with a contemporary hearthstone mine and chalk quarries will preserve evidence for the development of the industrial complex through the 19th and 20th centuries, and earlier. Situated in a local nature reserve on the course of the Pilgrims Way, the monument also serves as an important educational and aesthetic asset within these amenities.


The monument includes the remains of Brockham Lime Works, situated in the Brockham Hills on the south side of the North Downs. Chalk quarrying took place here for many years before becoming established on a larger scale, with associated lime-burning, in the mid-19th century, following the opening of the South Eastern Railway between Redhill and Reigate in 1849. Elsdon, Swan and Day constructed a standard-gauge railway siding at the quarry in 1867, and in 1875 they joined with Arthur Batchelar and Henry Roebuck Fenton to form the Brockham Brick Company Limited. The company operated a brickworks and hearthstone mine immediately to the south east of the limeworks. In 1878 Alfred Bishop became secretary and manager of the company, which took over the lime works in about 1881 and extended its hearthstone-mining activity beneath the lime works yard, chalk pits and spoil tips. In 1889 Bishop patented a design for a continuously burning lime kiln, known as the `Brockham patent' kiln, and most of the existing flare kilns at the works were correspondingly modified. The brick works were closed in 1910 but the lime works continued in operation under the Brockham Lime and Hearthstone Comany Limited, later a subsidiary of the Dorking Greystone Lime Company Limited. In 1925 mining ceased and in 1936 the lime works finally closed. Much of the equipment and machinery was removed from the site during World War II. While the brick works were demolished and the former clay pits flooded, the lime works and associated buildings remained largely standing. From 1962 until 1979 the buildings were occupied by a narrow-gauge railway museum, now at the Amberley Chalk Pits Museum in West Sussex. The site is now part of a local nature reserve.

The remains of the lime works include an eastern battery of eight kilns, which is Listed Grade II, and a western battery of two kilns. Adjacent to these buildings are the remains of associated platforms and railways by which chalk was delivered to the kilns from the quarries on the north, and fuel was brought and quicklime carried out via the main line on the south. In the area between the two batteries is a brick-lined shaft to the hearthstone mine together with associated below-ground workings. All of these features are included within the scheduled area. The standing remains of other structures associated with the limeworks, such as the possible lime bagging building, storage building and engine shed in the south western part of the limeworks site, are not considered to be appropriately managed through scheduling and are therefore not included in the scheduled area.

The eastern battery takes the form of a rectangular brick structure aligned approximately north-south and containing a row of eight kilns arranged in pairs. The back, or east side, of the battery is built into a steep slope which has been progressively raised in height since the kilns were first built. The original arrangement, dating from about 1870, is for four pairs of flare kilns with a raised earthen bank behind, by which chalk was loaded near the top. The kiln pots of the original flare kilns, as represented by the southernmost four, are oval in plan, and are joined in pairs with each pair having a central access tunnel reached through an arched opening on the western side. The tunnels served as shelter for the limeburners and their equipment, for loading fuel and unloading quicklime; there is one iron coal loading door and one brick draw-arch at the base of each pot. Some pots also feature another coal door at a higher level, fed from the rear. Each kiln also has a trench grate, for drawing off ash, and a pair of air intakes, all enclosed within a larger arch on the west side. The west face of the battery thus has the appearance of an arcade of round-headed arches, composed of eight large arches interjected with four smaller ones.

The modification of the four northernmost flare kilns to the Brockham patent involved the narrowing of the top and bottom of each kiln pot, resulting in a corresponding increase in height of about 2m. Above the rim of each pot was a brick chimney tower of circular plan, conical below with a narrower neck (bottle-shaped). Part of the chimney of the northernmost kiln still survives. The conical part of the tower served as a pre-heating zone for the chalk, which was loaded through a large door in the side of the chimney. Around the rim of the pot was added a series of vertical iron chutes through which coke or coal dust was fed directly into the firing chamber below. At ground level the quicklime was drawn off through a single draw-hole in the west side of each kiln, in the same face as the grate; the large arches on the northern half of the battery's west front therefore feature a single large draw-arch in place of the earlier pair of air holes. As a consequence of this arrangement, the coal doors and draw-holes in the central access tunnels were no longer required and were blocked off.

The provision of both charge and fuel at the upper level of the kiln necessitated the construction of a much higher bank to the rear, upon which a railway line from the quarry was carried, supported by a revetment of timber and stone. The bank and its revetment still survive, although only fragmentary remains of the railway track remain. Also at the upper level, immediately adjacent to the north of the battery, is a raised platform for fuel storage. The platform survives although the elevator which formerly lifted the fuel up from the railway siding below is no longer evident. At ground level the railway tracks have also been removed, but the adjacent platform survives along the west front of the battery. This platform was formerly covered with a lean-to which provided shelter for the newly extracted quicklime as it was loaded onto wagons at the siding.

The western battery is also a rectangular brick structure, aligned approximately north-south, but containing only one pair of lime kilns. The back, or west side, of the battery is built into a steep slope which was artificially raised up in about 1889 when the flare kilns were adapted to the Brockham patent. The kilns are thought to have formerly been largely free-standing, accessible from both the east and west sides, and joined by a central access tunnel on the eastern side. The kiln pots are now partly infilled, and the front wall of the southern kiln has fallen away, but one of the draw-arches is still evident. The remains of coal doors may also survive as blocked features in the side or rear of the kiln pots. When the kilns were adapted to the Brockham patent a large earthen bank was raised around the south and west sides of the battery, creating a large concrete platform at the upper level, retained by a high wall with later iron supports. The south part of the platform probably served as a coal storage area while the west part formerly supported a railway bringing chalk from the quarry on the north. The bottle-shaped chimneys of the Brockham patent no longer survive, but the lower parts of the adjacent coal chutes are still visible. As at the eastern battery, the kilns were served by a railway siding and platform, sheltered by a lean-to which is no longer evident.

In the area between the two batteries is a brick-lined shaft associated with the hearthstone mine which was extended beneath the limeworks in 1881. The mine was closed in 1898 but reopened in 1904, remaining in use until its final closure in 1925. The shaft still gives access to a length of mine passage, now partly collapsed. The winding gear and crane which formerly lifted the hearthstone through the shaft are no longer evident.

A number of feature are excluded from the scheduling. These are: the modern additions to the eastern battery, which include iron grilles and concrete capping erected for safety purposes and to make some of the tunnel and kiln interiors suitable for bat hibernation, the iron grille cover to the mineshaft and the interpretation boards. All the structures to which these features are attached, as well as the ground beneath are, 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.

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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.

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