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Canalside kilns tended to be for agricultural lime, where the exact composition was not particularly important. However, Higgins 1780 book, Experiments and observations made with … calcareous cements does show that scientific people were taking an interest in the exact composition and use of lime mortars, following on from Smeaton's work on hydraulic mortar for the Eddystone Lighthouse. Early engineers do seem to have been concerned to obtain the best lime for their mortars, which could be brought some distance for specific uses, and Rennie's notebooks have some observations on the grinding and mixing of slaked limes during mortar manufacture. That said, it was the the 1790s and early 1800s when French and German scientists and engineers really began to sort out standards for lime mortar.

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On 02/07/2020 at 17:03, magpie patrick said:

Nothing to do with canals but still heritage


Rebuilding a cemetery wall - the wall is of no intrinsic value but because the building is listed so is the wall. The building is circa 200 years old, the wall is of indeterminate age, could be less than 50, but it was there at the time of listing. 


Conservation officer is insisting on lime mortar for the rebuild, but the problem is that mortar in the wall consists mainly of power station ash - CO claims it must have lime in it otherwise it wouldn't bind, I'm not so sure. 


Does anyone know? When did lime stop being a common constituent of mortar, when did cement start to be a constituent? Is there mortar that would have had neither? 


I don't think we can readily replicate the original mortar anyway - no local power station these days




A portion of our house was built in late 1920s and lime mortar still used.  


I have used a lime mortar mix to do some repointing on the house but a retaining wall in the garden I used a concrete lime mix for greater flexibility.  I beleive but no expert that one is Hydraulic lime and the other Hydrated lime.

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Pluto has chosen an image of a limekiln, which I presume is Howden Brook. This is a rather isolated location, if it is this place, suggesting agricultural use. Lime was once used extensively in agriculture, but Howden Brook limekiln was disused by the time of the 1888/89 Ordnance Survey. The limestone was evidently unloaded from boats across the towpath and then conveyed to the top of the kiln for burning inside the kiln. The lime would then be removed from the base beside the brook. The lack of any obvious roads or tracks would suggest a purely local use.


Does Pluto know anything of the kiln ownership?



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Thinking about it, I think that, because ordinary lime solidifies by reacting with atmospheric carbon doxide, it would probably be satisfactory when used with porous bricks: ordinary bricks are quite permeable to water vapour - look up " interstitial condensation" -  so carbon dioxide would have no problem  with reaching internal mortar to react with it, given enough time. Hydraulic lime would be needed for masonry or engineering bricks, or damp under ground / under water constructions where the mortar in the interior would have no access to the carbon dioxide essental for its hardening, or where fast setting for early strength was needed. The soft mortar examples given in the EB article relate to impervious stone, not porous brick. 

Edited by Ronaldo47
Further thoughts, typo.

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Most L&LC limekilns seem to have been private, though some were on open access, ie on public land. Presumably, the local landowner owned the kilns. This is a list of all the sites in the 1820s, with information coming from two sources, a canal company workers list and the 1826 survey. The canal company did own the two sets of kilns alongside Burnley embankment, and had problems with smoke pollution as they were close to the town centre.


Downholland bridge

Heatons Bridge, on the Wigan side

Appley Bridge, either side

Kirklees, tow path side

Red Rock, Blackburn side

Wigan side of Douglas Aqueduct

Rawlinson Bridge, off side

Lime kiln, 4 chains Burnley side of Lime Kiln Bridge

Eanam Wharf, off side next to bridge

Whitebirk swing bridge, towpath side, close to stream

Clayton-le-Moors, towpath side, Blackburn side of Whalley Road bridge

Altham Barn Bridge, tow path side, Blackburn side of bridge

Hapton, tow path side, 100 feet on Blackurn side of bridge

Molly Wood Bridge, tow path side, Burnley side of bridge, Messrs Whithams?

Gannow, tow path side, Blackburn side of bridge

Whittlefield, tow path side, 200 feet from Gannow tunnel mouth

Burnley, off side, Nelson side of aqueduct, Company's

Burnley tow path side, 200 feet on Burnley side of Colne Road bridge, Hargreave's

Lodge kiln, Oliver Ings Bridge

Lomishaw, tow path side, 100 feet Colne side of bridge

Wanless, tow path side, tunnel side of bridge

Foulridge, tow path side towards far end of wharf

Foulridge, tow path side, beyond building at end of wharf

Salterforth Wharf, alongside road

Cockshott Bridge, tow path side, Barlic side of bridge

Rain Hall Rock

Lower Barnsey Rock, Yorks side of bridge

Butts Rock

Greenberfield Rock

East Marton Rock

Earl of Thanet's Rock (Skipton)

Bradley, off side, 100 feet Leeds side of Hamblethorpe swing bridge

Farnhill Hall (Coneygarth), tow path side next to turnpike road

Silsden (Pollards), tow path side near subsequent gas works site

Bromfoot Bridge, tow path side, Leeds side of bridge opposite feeder

Holden Beck, tow path side, 0.25 mile on Skipton side of Holden Bridge, Leeds side of beck

Helam Grange, tow path side, 300 feet on Skipton side of Grange

West Riddlesden, off side, 0.25 mile Skipton side of Stockbridge, coal pit adjacent and opposite

Stockbridge/Riddlesden, tow path side, 200 feet on Leeds side of Marquis of Granby bridge

Rishforth, tow path side, Skipton side of bridge

Micklethwaite, tow path side, Leeds side of bridge

Cross Flatts, tow path side, served lane to Keighley Road, 0.25 mile above Bingley 5-rise

Bingley (Toad Lane), off side, Skipton side of first bridge below 3-rise

Dowley Gap bridge, lime kilns

Shipley, tow path side, Leeds side of bridge

Apperley Kilns

Dobson, tow path side, Skipton side of swing bridge

Calverley, tow path side, Skipton side of new ring road bridge

Rodley, staith and limekiln

Wellington Bridge, off side, Leeds side of bridge


32 sites in 1826


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That is quite an impressive list.


There does seen to be a regular use of lime for agricultural purposes, which presumably diminished with the artificial manures becoming available as well as the transport of night soil. It is quite common to find advertisements for burnt lime for agriculturalists prior to 1850. Yet there was also a requirement for building purposes as this advert shows-


Sraffordshire Advertiser 26/08/1854

To agriculturists, builders and others[ CALDON LOWE limestone- unequalled for agricultural purposes, and of excellent qualities for building, may be had by canal to all parts of the country. Application to be made to Mr Johnson, Architect, Lichfield (successor to the late James Trubshaw) or his agent at Froghall Lime Kilns, near Cheadle, and at Brereton Lime Kilns near Rugeley- Applications must be made to the North Staffordshire Railway or their agents for all lime required from the Froghall works.


Edited by Heartland

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