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Coke ovens at the southern end of Furnace Road

A Scheduled Monument in Maryport, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.7124 / 54°42'44"N

Longitude: -3.4984 / 3°29'54"W

OS Eastings: 303561.130837

OS Northings: 536295.196653

OS Grid: NY035362

Mapcode National: GBR 4F0Y.DJ

Mapcode Global: WH5YB.7TB8

Entry Name: Coke ovens at the southern end of Furnace Road

Scheduled Date: 18 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019211

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32857

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Maryport

Built-Up Area: Maryport

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Maryport St Mary with Christ Church

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

Details

The monument includes the buried remains of a bank of six mid-18th century
coke ovens located at the southern end of Furnace Road in Maryport. These
ovens were used to produce coke for the adjacent Netherhall blast furnace. A
combination of limited excavation and documentary sources has shown that they
were built some time after the blowing-in of the furnace in 1754 but before
the final sale of the blast furnace in 1783. The ovens are constructed of
dressed sandstone and lined with brick and are of an unusual non-beehive form.
They are best described as rectangular barrel-vaulted form with an unloading
door at the front base and a flue and/or loading chute at the rear top. The
ovens differ from each other in minor detail and some show evidence of
alteration. On present knowledge these are considered to be the oldest coke
ovens in Britain, and therefore probably in the world. The buried remains of a
bench for the emptying of the ovens and loading of barrows is expected by the
site excavator to survive on the hillslope immediately beneath the row of
ovens, and this small area is also included within the scheduling.
All modern stone retaining walls and a flight of wooden steps 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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Coal has been mined in England since Roman times, and between 8,000 and 10,000
coal industry sites of all dates up to the collieries of post-war
nationalisation are estimated to survive in England. Three hundred and four
coal industry sites, representing approximately 3% of the estimated national
archaeological resource for the industry, have been identified as being of
national importance. This selection, compiled and assessed through a
comprehensive survey of the coal industry, is designed to represent the
industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity.
Coking is the process by which coal is heated or part burnt to remove volatile
impurities and leave lumps of carbon known as coke. Originally this was
conducted in open heaps, sometimes arranged on stone bases, but from the mid-
18th century purpose built ovens were employed. By the mid-19th century two
main forms of coking oven had developed, the beehive and long oven, which are
thought to have been operationally similar, differing only in shape. Coke
ovens were typically built as long banks with many tens of ovens arranged in
single or back to back rows, although stand alone ovens and short banks are
also known. They typically survive as stone or brick structures, but earth-
covered examples also exist. Later examples may also include remains of
associated chimneys, condensers and tanks used to collect by-products. Coke
ovens are most frequently found directly associated with coal mining sites,
although they also occur at ironworks or next to transport features such as
canal basins.
Coal occurs in significant deposits throughout large parts of England and this
has given rise to a variety of coalfields extending from the north of England
to the Kent coast. Each region has its own history of exploitation, and
characteristic sites range from the small, compact collieries of north
Somerset to the large, intensive units of the north east. All surviving pre-
1815 ovens are considered to be of national importance and merit protection,
as do all surviving examples of later non-beehive ovens. The survival of
beehive ovens is more common nationally and a selection of the better
preserved examples demonstrating the range of organisational layouts and
regional spread is considered to merit protection.

The coke ovens at the south end of Furnace Road are considered to be the
oldest in the country and possibly the world. Their form is unique, being
quite different from the normal beehive type, and documentary evidence dated
to 1783 refers to them as being a new design.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Cranstone, D, 'Journal of Historic Mining Society' in Early Coke Ovens: A Note, , Vol. 23/2, (1989), 120-1
Other
Gale, D, The Old Maryport Blast Furnace, Unpublished excavation report
Letter to Dr. M. Nieke, Gale, D, (1988)

Source: Historic England

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