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Shoreham Cement Works
Upper Beeding, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, UK
associated engineer
Oscar Faber & Partners
date  1948
era  Modern  |  category  Factory/Industrial Plant  |  reference  TQ199086
The site of the former Shoreham Cement Works has been in industrial use for almost three centuries. The present works was engineered by Oscar Faber & Partners for Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd, and was their first new factory in England after World War II. The works are now derelict (2012).
At first, a chalk pit was in use on this site in about 1732, then there were lime kilns in 1814. Quarrying began in 1851. The Beeding Cement Co was established here by 1882. In 1895, the cement works was owned by H.R. Lewis & Co, passing to the Sussex Portland Cement Co a few years later. In 1912 it was taken over by Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd (APCM). The terraced houses of Dacre Gardens just north of the site were built between 1896 and 1909 to house the workforce.
In 1861, the railway line between Horsham and Shoreham opened. A branch line (date unknown) was constructed to the cement works. This remained in use into the 1970s, even though the main line north of the works closed in 1966.
Shoreham Cement Works covers 19ha, bisected by the main road between Upper Beeding and Shoreham-by-Sea. The industrial buildings and the quarry are to the east of the road and the distribution plant and administration buildings are to the west. The two parts were connected by a tunnel under the road and a conveyor above it (no longer there).
APCM engaged Oscar Faber & Partners to design the buildings for the cement-making machinery. They are generally steel frame with concrete wall panels. The office blocks are flat-roofed, while the process buildings (for crushers, grinders, kilns, water tanks, power plant, conveyors and storage) and workshops have pitched roofs, possibly clad in sheet asbestos. The single tapering reinforced concrete chimney is 91m tall.
Cement has three main ingredients limestone, shale or clay and gypsum. At Shoreham, chalk from the quarry was crushed and mixed with clay, from pits north of the site, and water into a slurry that was stored in 12 cylindrical reinforced concrete silos on the south side of the kiln shed. Coal for powering the kilns was delivered by rail and pulverised on site.
The kiln shed houses two rotating cylindrical steel kilns 107m long and some 3.5m in diameter. Each is inclined slightly and has internal spiral metal baffles and chains to move the slurry along the body of the tube. Externally, the tube has cogged rings that engaged with a drive shaft powered by a huge gear wheel, which rotated the kilns.
The slurry was fed into two kilns where it was heated to around 1,370 degrees Celsius coal dust was blown in at one end of the tube and ignited. The slurry dried and burned to form a glassy rubble called clinker.
A small quantity of gypsum (typically less than 5 percent) was added to the clinker to control the cement's setting time. This mixture was ground into powder and stored in two concrete silos on the western side of the site, or packed in stout self-sealing paper bags for onward transport and distribution. The works could manufacture 254,000 tonnes of cement a year and employed 250-330 people.
APCM became Blue Circle Industries Ltd in 1978 (in turn bought by French company Lafarge in 2001). Cement production at Shoreham ceased in 1991 and the distribution plant closed in 1997. The site is now (2011) owned by Dudman Aggregates Ltd, who use it for manufacturing secondary (recycled) aggregates. They also retain the licence to extract chalk from the adjoining quarry.
When work stopped, the machinery was left in place and the rusting kilns and water tanks may still be seen.
Research: ECPK
bibliography
www.abandoned-britain.com
www.british-history.ac.uk
www.theargus.co.uk
www.westsussex.gov.uk
Location

Shoreham Cement Works