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Foresthead lime kilns, quarry, associated buildings and part of the rail transportation system

A Scheduled Monument in Farlam, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.9099 / 54°54'35"N

Longitude: -2.6494 / 2°38'57"W

OS Eastings: 358459.764943

OS Northings: 557433.292714

OS Grid: NY584574

Mapcode National: GBR 9CYN.6R

Mapcode Global: WH915.8VMD

Entry Name: Foresthead lime kilns, quarry, associated buildings and part of the rail transportation system

Scheduled Date: 12 November 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021017

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35007

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Farlam

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Farlam St Thomas a Becket

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes Foresthead lime kilns and adjacent quarry, the
remains of all associated buildings within and adjacent to the quarry and
lime kilns. It also includes the remains of part of the railway system,
which transported quarried material from the quarry to the kilns, together
with the remains of part of the Blacksike Railway which connected both the
nearby Blacksike Colliery and Foresthead quarry with the small town of
Brampton. It is located on the fellside to the south east of the hamlet of
Forest Head.

A lime kiln is thought to have been established at Foresthead during the
late 18th century by the then landowner, Lord Carlisle. In 1821 the
Blacksike Railway was constructed. This was originally a rope-hauled line
used for transporting coal from Blacksike Colliery and limestone from the
developing Foresthead limestone quarry down to Brampton. Early 20th
century Ordnance Survey maps show the Blacksike Railway running along the
northern side of the limestone quarry whilst within the quarry itself
there were a number of railway lines taking limestone to the kilns and
then taking the burned lime from the kilns a short distance to the
Blacksike Railway and on to Brampton. From about 1920 to the 1940s
Foresthead quarry provided shale for brickmaking at Kirkhouse brickworks
approximately three miles away (4.8km). In 1949 rising haulage costs meant
that the railway system here lost out to road transport thus the railway
became redundant. Foresthead quarry closed during the latter half of the
20th century.

The lime kilns are of at least two and possibly three phases of
construction. They consist of a massive bank of four dressed limestone
kilns up to 9m high. The two kilns at the north east end each have two
draw holes with half-domed openings while the two kilns at the south west
end, which may or may not be contemporary with the other two, each have
three draw holes with tunnel openings. The large sandstone facade which
has been added to the front of the kilns has obscured the relationship
between the kilns and created four uniform draw arches which give access
to the individual groups of kilns. Four charge holes above the groups of
kilns each have stone linings but have been partly infilled. 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 holes 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 kilns. 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. A short
distance west of the kilns there is a three-roomed single-storey building
of limestone construction with a slate roof together with a roofless
outhouse to the east. It is thought to be the original quarry site office
but was latterly used as a small farmstead.

To the south is Foresthead quarry from where first limestone then shale
have been extracted from the late 18th century until the latter half of
the 20th century. Within the quarry are the remains of at least three
roofless brick buildings of uncertain funtion which are considered to be
contemporary with the 20th century shale quarrying. Elsewhere within the
quarry there are traces of the once extensive railway system used for
transporting limestone. Much of the railway has been destroyed by the
later shale quarrying, however, it survives best at the north east end of
the monument around the kilns where a cutting for the Blacksike Railway
passes in front of the kilns. A photograph dated about 1920 shows four
railway tracks branching off the main line and entering the draw arches
leading to the kilns. The Blacksike Railway is still visible for much of
its course along the northern side of the quarry, particularly towards the
north west end where it is visible as a substantial embankment. Elsewhere
within the quarry there are parallel rows of brick piers, many now
toppled, which are thought to be the remains of a possible conveyor system
for removing material out of the quarry.

All walls, fences, fence posts, gateposts and telegraph poles are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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
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.

Foresthead lime kilns, quarry, associated buildings and part of the rail
transportation system survives well. It forms a landscape of stone
extraction, burning and transportation covering a period of almost 200
years and retains examples of changing technological innovations used
within this industry during this period. The kilns in particular are well
preserved and offer good potential for archaeological investigation to
enable a greater understanding of their technological development during
their period of use.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Foresthead lime kiln, Brampton, (1996)
Brooks, G, Foresthead lime kilns, (1995)
Brooks, G, Foresthead lime kilns, (1995)
Brooks, G, Foresthead lime kilns, (1995)
Webb, B, Gordon, D A, Lord Carlisle's Railway, (1978)

Source: Historic England

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