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Report - Shoreham Cement Works, June 2010

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by analepsis, Jan 4, 2011.

  1. analepsis

    analepsis 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    Apologies, first of all, for anyone who is already bored stupid by this site which is very well known, but 2010 for me was all about playing catch up and gaining access to some of the better known sites around London and the south east near where I live. I went to Shoreham three times and the third of these was definitely the charm. The middle of June saw one of the characteristically brief English heatwaves hit the country; the mesmerising temperatures happily coinciding with long hours of golden drawn-out light on a spectacular summer evening. It was certainly prettier than the penetrating sleet which had characterised my second visit, and the potentially fatal mishap that had ruined my first.

    The first thing to impress you about Shoreham Cement is the sheer scale of it all. The chimney soars up from the surrounding hills and valleys, visible from miles around, while the location of the works, cutting into the Eastern flank of the Adur estuary feels almost as if it were designed to inspire awe. As another member here has mentioned, this is an area of outstanding natural beauty, meaning that a visit to Shoreham Cement combines some of the most enjoyable elements of both rural and ‘urban’ exploration. Maybe it’s this very contrast that makes the industrial heavy metal on-site seem as gnarly as it does. In reality in comparison to some of the other stuff I have seen online and since looked at myself, I guess it’s not as hair-raising as all that, but it’s still a very interesting, and in some places, a hugely impressive architectural space.

    Started in 1948 and delivered in 1949, the reinforced concrete structure was the creation of Oscar Faber. Although more famous for his magnum opus, the new Bank of England as well as three Spillers’ Mills: Tyne, Cardiff and Avonmouth, Faber, a some-time president of the Institution of Structural Engineers, pioneered the deflection testing of ‘ferro-concrete’. His vast, cathedral-like structure for the Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers’ Shoreham Works is something of an encomium written in this formidable medium. He had started his own career at APCM in 1906, and his vaulting 91m chimney was engineered ‘according to the theories he had worked out forty years earlier with his mentor Charles Percy Taylor, then chief engineer at APCM.'

    Heroic and imposing, yet flourished with surprising Deco-styled details, the Shoreham Cement Works is a remarkably photogenic collection of buildings. Once you get in out of the blinding sunlight you find that most of the machinery is still in place. Enormous cogs and gears, zig-zagging gantries, creaking conveyor belts and a mind-mangling tangle of pipes and tubes sprawl crazily from one end of the site to the other, all carpeted in a thick drift of pale grey cement-dust. It definitely has that ‘lost world’ feeling, as if you’re wandering around the colossal, ruined relics of an ancient civilisation. Although, given the fate of industry in Britain over the 20th century, this is exactly what you are doing.

    I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Such as it is. As it started getting darker, my dinner was almost ready so I had to go indoors and stop playing. Sadly, this expedition was by no means complete and definitive. I started off a little too late in the day and should have stayed there longer really, as it would have been a good night for it. But it never used to occur to me to overnight places back then…


    PS – This was the first time I bracketed my shots so I could experiment with HDR later. I’ve tried to keep it natural, and have only sprinkled a few into the following selection.

    PPS - A bit more history on Oscar Faber here


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    Then, when I got to the bus stop, this was what I saw...

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    Need to go back here someday for the sequel though, and get it all on film....

    Thanks for looking.
     

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