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Report - Craven Lime Works, Langcliffe, North Yorks. October 2013

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by Bovine, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. Bovine

    Bovine 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Oct 18, 2008
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    The area around Settle, in the Yorkshire Dales, has long been quarried for limestone, the main uses being building, roadstone and to provide lime, which was used to make mortar and to spread on fields to improve the fertility. To produce lime, limestone is burnt with coal in a kiln, the remains of many still visible about the district. The drawback to this method was that to charge, fire, let cool and empty it took several days.
    Friederich Hoffmann patented a kiln in 1858 which was capable of producing batches of lime far quicker by using a series of chambers in rotation.
    The Craven Lime Works had a quarry at Langcliffe, just outside Settle and following the arrival of the railway erected a Hoffmann Kiln in 1873. This was lozenge shaped, containing a continuous tunnel with 22 access doors, giving the same number of chambers. Limestone arrived from the quarry in fist sized pieces, which were stacked, mixed with coal, in a chamber. Subsequent chambers were also filled in rotation. When fired, the air was admitted at the base of the stack and the smoke drawn up into a central chimney via a flue with dampers. The tunnel was constructed with limestone faced with firebrick and the central core was also limestone, acting as a thermal store. As one chamber cooled, another was alight and the heat fom this warmed the next one. As combustion continued, crushed coal would be dropped through holes in the roof to keep it going. Emptying the chambers was a most unpleasant task, as the limestone had fused together and had to be broken up to get it out. It was very hot and dusty work, the lime dust causing skin irritations and breathing problems. It took 6 weeks for the process to make one circuit of the kiln.
    The kiln closed in 1931, briefly being fired again from 1937-9, but the rise of portland cement and more efficient ways of lime production meant that it was not used again. The central chimney was arranged to be demolished in 1951, but the day before, it collapsed whilst nobody was about. The remains mouldered away until the site passed to Craven District Council in the 1980's. Some repairs were done to it, but wrangling over the future of the site has prevented any redevelopment to date. In 1994 The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority became the owners, but still nothing has transpired, developers having no incentive to invest, unless there was a commercial scheme, which is at variance with Park policy.

    How it all worked

    Inside the tunnel, which would have been stacked with limestone between the openings




    Flue outlet to central chimney

    Air inlet, water is leaching out the calcium in the backing limestone

    One of the ends, with plenty of calcite leaching

    Ceiling holes for feeding crushed coal, note the slag coating on the firebricks

    This 'Horse Tunnel' connected with the quarry, the beasts pulling tubs of stone. Too misty inside for a decent pic!

    Thirsty work, pulling all them tubs

    The remains today

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