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Allerston lime kilns

A Scheduled Monument in Allerston, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.2365 / 54°14'11"N

Longitude: -0.6457 / 0°38'44"W

OS Eastings: 488365.631244

OS Northings: 483153.481639

OS Grid: SE883831

Mapcode National: GBR RMYG.03

Mapcode Global: WHGC3.1SS3

Entry Name: Allerston lime kilns

Scheduled Date: 12 January 1976

Last Amended: 26 November 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021084

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35480

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Allerston

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Allerston St John

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes standing and earthwork remains of a bank of four
19th century draw type lime kilns. It is located on a south facing aspect
on the northern flank of the Vale of Pickering. The lime kilns are Listed
Grade II.

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. There was an increased
demand for lime when it was used to improve the soil in intake land and
reclaimed moorland during the enclosures of the late 18th and 19th
centuries. The landscape is littered with remains of simple lime kilns
built to meet what was primarily a very local demand. 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.

Little is currently known of the history of the Allerston lime kilns. The
complex is depicted on the first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1854 and
is thought to have been built during the previous decade for Sir George
Osbaldeston. It was built to operate on a commercial basis rather than to
provide lime for immediate local use. It continued in use into the early
20th century and probably ceased operation when it was unable to compete
with the more efficient and technologically advanced production systems
developed elsewhere. In a sale catalogue of around 1900 it was described
as "A capital set of limekilns". The size and quality of the structure
indicates that it's construction was at some expense.

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, which 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 pieces 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 Allerston lime kilns are housed in a substantial rectangular stone
built kiln block measuring 30m wide by 12m deep and standing 9m high at the
front, southern face. It was built on a terrace cut into the natural
slope, which allowed for easy access to the top of the kilns from the
rear. The front of the kiln block comprises a vertical face with an
angled batter at the base. It is built of dressed sandstone blocks and has
three string courses across the face. The stones forming the corners are
decorated with rusticated tooling. At the base of the kiln block are four
arched openings 2.5m wide and 3m, which each lead to a tunnel extending
for 5m into the kiln block to the base of the individual kiln bowls.
Internally the roofs of the tunnels are constructed of brick and are
semicircular in shape. There are two small arched draw holes set into the
base of the kiln bowl at the end of the tunnels except the easternmost
where there is only one such opening.

At the front of the kiln block at the level of the arches there is a stone
faced working platform 4.3m wide which was used to load processed lime
onto carts. On the top of the kiln the four kiln bowls still survive.
They are circular in shape and measure approximately 4m in diameter.
Although the kiln bowls are in various states of collapse it can be
clearly seen that they were lined in brick. To the rear of the kiln top
there is a level area some 20m deep and the same width as the kiln block
which is supported in the eastern and western sides by a stone revetment
wall. This level area would have been used for sorting and breaking
limestone into suitable sizes and for stacking fuel prior to charging the
kiln bowl.

On the western side of the kiln block there is a trackway which is
supported by a stone revetment wall to the south west of the kiln block.
At the northern part of this revetment wall, immediately to the south west
of the kiln block, there is a brick lined arched recess 3m wide and 1.5m
deep which partly underlies the track. The purpose of this is not fully
understood but it is thought to be a shelter for workers at the kiln.

There were two sets of quarries servicing the kiln, which were located on
the higher land 500m to the north and on the limestone escarpment 150m to
the east. The track to the west of the kiln block was used to access the
quarries to the north. Little remains of the workings and ancillary
features are known to survive in these quarries and they are not included
in the monument.

The house known as Red House, 100m to the south of the kilns was
originally a group of four separate cottages built to house workers for
the kilns. This has been much altered and is in permanent occupation and
is not included in the monument.

The surface of the track and the small pump house and associated pipework
to the rear of the kiln block are all excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features is included.

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.

The Allerston lime kilns survive extremely well. The kiln
block itself is an unusually impressive structure which retains a range of
architectural refinements rare in industrial monuments in rural locations.
In addition the technology and working methods can be clearly understood.
Taken as a whole the monument is important for the understanding of the
workings and developments in the 19th century commercial lime industry.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Farmer, P G, Allerston Lime Kiln, (1975)
Listed building entry,

Source: Historic England

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