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Lime kilns 400m south west of Furlands

A Scheduled Monument in Kepwick, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.3065 / 54°18'23"N

Longitude: -1.3302 / 1°19'48"W

OS Eastings: 443676.519428

OS Northings: 490302.313205

OS Grid: SE436903

Mapcode National: GBR ML4N.S0

Mapcode Global: WHD89.J0RX

Entry Name: Lime kilns 400m south west of Furlands

Scheduled Date: 15 April 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021190

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35486

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Kepwick

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument includes standing and earthwork remains of a set of four 19th
century draw type lime kilns. Also included are remains of the former
stone yard and a road bridge to the west of the kilns and a short section
of the mineral railway immediately to the east of the kilns.

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. Demand for lime
increased in the late 18th and 19th centuries when it was used to improve
the soil intake land and reclaimed moorland. 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.

The Kepwick lime kilns were built in the early 1830s by Colonel Sir Joshua
Crompton, owner of the Kepwick estate, and were operational by 1833 when
the mineral railway from the quarries was completed. The kilns were built
close to the Thirsk to Yarm turnpike road (now the A19) where coal for
fuelling the lime burning could be easily brought in and the finished lime
sent to market. The railway and the kilns closed in 1893.

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. This 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 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 Kepwick kilns are housed in a substantial rectangular stone-built
west-facing kiln block. This measures 30m wide, stands approximately 8m
high at the front and is built against a steep face cut into the natural
slope. The front of the kiln block comprises a vertical face built of
dressed limestone blocks supported by two angled buttresses. At the bottom
of the southern part of the kiln block there are three arched openings
which each lead to a tunnel extending inside to the base of the kiln
bowls. The central arch measures 4m wide and the two flanking arches are
2.5m wide. All measure 2m in height. Internally the roofs of the tunnels
are semicircular in shape and there is small arched draw hole at the end,
set into the base of the kiln bowl. The kiln bowl over the central tunnel
was served by an unusual rectangular charge hole, which still survives at
the top of the kiln. Originally there was a fourth arch and kiln bowl to
the south of the surviving three. Although this has collapsed, the left
hand side of the arch front still survives. On the top of the kiln block
there is a stone platform built next to the edge which is thought to have
been the base for a crane used to hoist fuel to the charge holes.

To the west of the kiln block, defined by a track way to the south and
west and the field boundary to the north, was the area known as the stone
yard where raw materials and finished lime could be stored and a range of
associated activities took place. Maps of 1854 and 1894 show that on the
north side of the stone yard there was a range of buildings, which would
have included stores, workshops, shelter and stabling. The most easterly
of these still survives as a roofed structure butting against the face of
the kiln block immediately north of the arches although this is not
included in the monument. The other buildings have now gone although the
stone footings are still visible. The 1894 map also depicts a weigh bridge
in the stone yard.

Access to the stone yard from the west was via a road known as Lime Kiln
Road, which connected with the Yarm to Thirsk turnpike. Immediately to the
west of the stone yard and included in the monument is a bridge which
carried Lime Kiln Road over Woundlands Beck. It is built of dressed stone
and has a single plain vaulted semicircular arch. It measures 6m in length
and is 3m wide. Immediately upstream of the bridge the eastern bank of the
beck is revetted by stonework and there is a short flight of stone steps
leading down to the water.

To the east of the kiln block there are remains of the mineral railway,
which brought limestone to the kilns. It survives within the monument as
an embankment 10m wide and 100m long, which is revetted with stones along
the southern side. The embankment terminates approximately 10m to the east
of the front of the kiln block and in between there is a level area where
the limestone and fuel would have been sorted and prepared prior to
loading into the kiln bowls.

The mineral railway originally extended to limestone quarries located on
the western edge of the Hambleton Hills approximately 5km to the east. For
the bulk of its length the railway carried horse drawn wagons over the
relatively flat agricultural plain to the west. These were then hauled
over the steep slope to the quarries by a gravity-powered self-acting
incline. The line of the railway can still be traced in the landscape as
embankments, cuttings and farm tracks. Three bridges originally carrying
the railway still survive. None of the sections of mineral railway to the
east of the protected area or the associated quarry workings are included
in the monument.

In addition to limestone, records show that ironstone, jet and coal were
also exploited on the Kepwick Estate. It is possible that the mineral
railway and stone yard were also used to transport and store some of this

A number of features are excluded from the monument. These include the
standing building adjacent to the kiln block, the surface of all tracks
and the clay pigeon traps. The ground beneath these features is however

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 lime kilns 400m south west of Furlands survive well. In addition to
the kiln block itself there are also remains of the stone yard and mineral
railway, all of which adds to the understanding of the technology and
working methods. 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
Morley, M C, 'Industrial Railway Record' in The Kepwick Railway, (1984), 178-182
Morley, M C, 'Industrial Railway Record' in The Kepwick Railway, (1984), 79-82

Source: Historic England

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