Chimney at Lovering's China Clay Dry, Charlestown


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
NGR: SX0391551861
Statutory Address:
Charlestown, Cornwall, PL25 3NX


Ordnance survey map of Chimney at Lovering's China Clay Dry, Charlestown
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Statutory Address:
Charlestown, Cornwall, PL25 3NX

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
NGR: SX0391551861
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
St. Austell Bay
National Grid Reference:


Chimney of china clay dry, built by Lovering & Company in 1906-7, and opened in 1908.

Reasons for Designation

The chimney at the former Lovering’s china clay dry, Charlestown is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest

* as a strong visual reminder of the china clay industry in Charlestown; * for its well-built construction, using local materials; * for its relationship with the technologically-innovative complex at Lovering’s dry, of which it survives as its most tangible feature;

Historic interest

* for its relationship to the industrial development of Charlestown; * as a representative example of the development of the china clay industry in Cornwall in the early C20 by John Lovering.

Group value

* for its visual and functional connection to the Grade II* listed harbour.


The village of Charlestown was developed from two farms, Higher and Lower Polmear, between 1792 and 1823 under the direction of Charles Rashleigh of Menabilly. The deep-water harbour, conceived by John Smeaton in 1792, was the focus of the principal industries in the area: copper, clay and pilchard fishing. Copper and clay were heavy products, with no end use in the county, so they were exported by sea to South Wales and Staffordshire respectively, with pilchards exported to Catholic Mediterranean countries. The harbour included a breakwater and outer harbour and an inner wet dock, and at the same time a seven-mile leat was constructed to bring in water from the Luxulyan Valley to fill the wet dock and scour the harbour. After Ashleigh’s death in 1823, Charlestown was taken over by the Crowder Family in 1825. Many of the buildings that contribute to Charlestown’s character were built from this date, including two china clay dries at the north and south ends of the settlement in 1906-8. By this time, the St Austell copper mines were in decline, and china clay and stone had become Charlestown’s main industry. The north dry (Carbean clay dry) occupied the land to the east of the iron foundry, off Charlestown Road; the drying shed was demolished in the late 1940s for the expansion of the foundry, and its chimney stack demolished in 1991. The south dry is today known as Lovering’s dry after the company it was built for.

On 19 September 1907, the Royal Cornwall Gazette reported that Messers Lovering & Company had acquired certain clay rights at Charlestown and were contemplating erecting a new dry there. The report noted that the clay was to be piped as slurry from Carclaze to the dry. The dry was opened in 1908 by Mrs W.T Lovering on behalf of the company. The dry was the last significant structure to be built in Charlestown, and it is from this point that the village’s virtually unaltered appearance dates.

When built, the dry (also known as a pan kiln) was 380 feet long and 18 feet wide, with six attached tanks having a capacity of 8,000 tonnes, and the drying shed a capacity of 10,000 tonnes. The chimney stack, 120 feet high, was noted in the Falmouth Packet and Cornwall Advertiser in 1909 as being built of concrete blocks made in Pentewan. By 1933 the two northern tanks had been divided to create eight tanks in all. The drying shed had a furnace at one end, and worked on the hypocaust system with a series of flues running beneath a floor of porous tiles, connected to the chimney at the other end of the shed. The tanks were filled with clay slurry, transported directly from Carclaze China Clay Works, 1.5 miles to the north, via a pipeline formed from a deep-level adit, an idea Lovering took from William Pease in 1859. Once the slurry had settled it was run onto the shed floor (the pan) and the hot flue gases would draw the moisture through the porous tiles and out through the stack in a white plume. The stack also provided a draught for the furnaces. The dried clay was cut into blocks and stored in an adjacent linhay, and then transported to the harbour stores by a covered tramway tunnel, an innovative system built as part of the dry complex. The dry regularly produced around 450 tonnes of clay each week, and remained in operation until the 1960s.

Until 2005 the dry building was used as a store, when part of the roof was damaged by fire and much of the building was subsequently demolished. The chimney remains as the only significant visible evidence of the complex, and is a landmark in views throughout Charlestown.


Chimney of china clay dry, built by Lovering & Company in 1906-7, and opened in 1908.

MATERIALS Granite and brick chimney stack, banded with iron straps.

DESCRIPTION Cylindrical chimney stack at the north-west corner of the former china clay dry, known as Lovering’s dry. Approximately 120 feet high, of granite construction (although it was noted in 1909 that it was built from concrete blocks from Pentewan) with a brick top. Moulded sections at two-thirds of its height, and with a collared top. Banded with iron straps.


Books and journals
'Cornwall’s Largest China Clay Dry' in Lake’s Falmouth Packet and Cornwall Advertiser, (1 January 1909), 7
'Messers Lovering and Company' in Royal Cornwall Gazette, (19 September 1907), 5
'Railside Industry: China Clay' in Railway Modeller, (January 1965), 7-10
Stengelhofen, J, 'Report of the Summer Meeting of the Royal Archaeological Institute at Truro' in Archaeological Journal, (1973), 276-280
Cornish Mining World Heritage, Charlestown: perfect port for travelling back in time , accessed 24/04/2018 from
Heritage Gateway - HER entry for Charlestown, accessed 24/04/2018 from
Pastscape entry for Charlestown, accessed 24/04/2018 from
Cornwall Archaeological Unit, Charlestown: historical and archaeological assessment, 1998
Cornwall Council, Charlestown Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Plan, 2013
Cornwall County Council Historic Environment Service (Projects), The Lovering China Clay Dry, Charlestown, Cornwall: archaeological assessment, 2005
English Heritage Advice Report, China Clay Dry, Quay Road, St Austell, 2005
English Heritage, Report of survey of industrial buildings in Cornwall, 1993
Historic England, Charlestown: Cornish Ports and Harbours, 2016
Ordnance Survey, Cornwall, 4th edition (1933) (1:2500)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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