Buildings., Industry

The industrial History of Whitchurch. Lime Kilns on the Dowards.

For centuries, if not thousands of years, limestone has been burnt in lime kilns on the Doward hills within our parish. The hills were heavily mined and quarried until the beginning of the last century, particularly for iron ore and limestone. Limestone was taken from a quarry or directly from a cliff face. Most cliff faces you see on the Doward Hills today are man made as the result of limestone quarrying.

old Quarry
Old quarry on Gt Doward.

Woodland Trust kiln & quary (4)

Lime kilns were built near to the limestone source and in some places as many as eleven kilns were reported as being in use in one area alone. The kilns needed vast quantities of charcoal to heat them and this came from the woods in the and vicinity. Great plumes of smoke frequently hung over the hillside. In the mid 19th century so much charcoal was consumed that the Great Doward hill lost the majority of its trees and the hill looked very different to today.

A couple of kilns have been restored recently and at least one more remains in good and near its original condition but many more have been allowed to fall into ruin and are barely visible today if you know where to look. Most have disappeared altogether. The kiln at Pentumkin, seen below, is half buried beside the lane to Pentumkin Cottage. It contains its own,  slightly more recent artifact, an old washing machine, now being carefully preserved in its own dry environment.

Pentumpkin kiln (1)

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