Annery kiln

Annery kiln

The former Annery lime kiln (co-ordinates 50 59' 4.4" N | 04 11' 30.7" W) is situated just off the road from Bideford to Great Torrington, near Weare Giffard in the Torridge District of North Devon, England. The old lime kiln overlooks the River Torridge and lies close to the old 1827 canalMinchinton, Walter (1974), "Devon at work: Past and Present." Pub. David & Charles; Newton Abbot. ISBN. 0-7153-6389-1. P. 82.] and also to the railway that ran from Bideford to Torrington, opened in 1872 and closed in 1966. [Mitchell, V. & Smith, K. (1994) "Branch Lines to Torrington" Pub. Middleton Press, ISBN 1873793375.] The old trackbed now forms a stretch of the Tarka Trail. Annery is a small settlement nearby.

The history of Annery limekiln

Weare Giffard is situated near the tidal limit of the River Torridge, and coal and limestone had been brought up by boat for a long time previous to the building of the Rolle Canal or Torrington, in 1823 - 1827.Hadfield, Charles (1967), "The Canals of South West England". Pub. David & Charles, Newton Abbot.] Culm (a form of imperfect anthracite was mined in Devon at Tavistock and Chittlehampton, as well as being imported from South Wales.Griffith, R. S. Ll. (1971). "Annery Kiln, Weare Giffard." Grenville College project. Supervisor Mr. B. D. Hughes.] The limestone largely came from Caldey Island off the South Wales coastHadfield, Charles (1967), "The Canals of South West England". Pub. David & Charles, Newton Abbot. p. 137.] , although Devon had quarries in Landkey, Swimbridge, Filleigh, South Molton and Combe Martin.Griffith, R. S. Ll. (1971). "Annery Kiln, Weare Gifford." Grenville College project. Supervisor Mr. B. D. Hughes.]

The lime kiln complex was composed of the kiln itself; a pond for slaking the calcium oxide from the kiln, to produce the slaked lime, hydrated lime, or pickling lime; several cottages for the lime-burners (although the main set of cottages are neither evidenced on any maps nor in census returns until after 1851, indicating that they were not built until later and only one census return in the 19th century lists one lime-kiln worker), shipbuilders and blacksmiths, etc. and storage buildings. A small wharf of sorts on the river allowed for the unloading of sailing barges.

Annery limekiln has a ramp facing the river, three kilns or burning 'pots', seven entrance doorways and nine lower apertures for the removal of the calcined limestone; the arrangement of the kilns gives an L-shaped compact structure. Some of the entrances led to arched lobbies or 'eyes', at the back of which were the grates and separate 'poking holes' to insert metals rods for 'working' the charge and helping aeration. A 'lean-to' slated roof may have slotted beneath part of the drip course of projecting stones, which runs around the kilns exterior walls. The arched entrances to the kiln also allowed for the safe collection of the quicklime, which reacted violently to water.

The top of the kilns was flat and large enough to allow for some storage of culm and limestone. Like the kilns at Torrington they were originally crenellated with castle-like battlements, [http://www.wearegiffard.info/history/story-of-weare-giffard/WG-Industry-Limekilns.pdf the History of Weare Giffard.] ] an eccentric feature probably added by Lord Rolle, who was colonel of the South Devon Militia and the South Devon Yeomanry.Hadfield, Charles (1967), "The Canals of South West England". Pub. David & Charles, Newton Abbot. P. 138.] The original Annery kiln had been built prior to Lord Rolles's canal and the Great Torrington lime kilns; it is unlikely to have had the crenellations.Annery was well built, with local mortar-cemented stones, a rubble infill and firebricks lining the kilns' combustion chambers.Griffith, R. S. Ll. (1971). "Annery Kiln, Weare Giffard." Grenville College project. Supervisor Mr. B. D. Hughes.] The various openings to the kilns have rounded or pointed Gothic arches formed from bricks. The now lost crenellated 'battlements' construction was similar to other kilns such as those at Yeo Vale on the Torridge, south-west of Bideford and those at Torrington.Minchinton, Walter (1974), "Devon at work: Past and Present." Pub. David & Charles; Newton Abbot. ISBN. 0-7153-6389-1. P. 38.]

The evidence suggests that the original kiln had a single pot and arched entrances leading to three 'eyes', later two more pots were built with rounded tops to the arches which led to only two eyes each. [http://www.wearegiffard.info/history/story-of-weare-giffard/WG-Industry-Limekilns.pdf The History of Weare Giffard] ] The decorative front of the new kiln has blind arches at either end and two quatrefoils, which are a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially-overlapping circles of the same diameter.

Being next to the river, the canal, and the road to Bideford and Torrington as well as the Weare Giffard Bridge across the Torridge, the kiln had excellent communications.

In Devon the demand for agricultural lime in the 19th century was very high, and farmers were forced to collect loads of lime from Annery, by pack-horse at first and later using wagons,Hadfield, Charles (1967), "The Canals of South West England". Pub. David & Charles, Newton Abbot. P. 135.] arriving as early as 4am to ensure that they had a supply for the day.Griffith, R. S. Ll. (1971). "Annery Kiln, Weare Giffard." Grenville College project. Supervisor Mr. B. D. Hughes.]

The development of the rail network made local small-scale kilns generally unprofitable, but Annery closed in around 1864, before the local railway was opened. Local competition from the lime kilns at Torrington and elsewhere would have been intense.Griffith, R. S. Ll. (1971). "Annery Kiln, Weare Giffard." Grenville College project. Supervisor Mr. B. D. Hughes.]

Limekiln photograph gallery - 1971

Limekiln drawings gallery

Drawings produced in 1971. The measurements are only approximate.

Limekilns

Function

Annery had three burning chambers constructed of brick, each with an air inlet (the "eye") at the base. Crushed limestone and coal unloaded from a boat on the nearby tidal River Torridge or possibly the Rolle Canal, were hauled up the single ramp and emptied into the kiln chamber. Successive dome-shaped layers of culm coal and limestone would have been built up in the kiln on grate bars across the eye at the base. When loading or 'charging' was completed, the kiln would have been kindled at the bottom, and the fire gradually allowed to spread upwards through the charge. When burnt through, the lime was cooled and raked out through the base.

The size of kilns was limited by the need to allow air to permeate freely and to prevent a collapse from too much weight; this explains why individual kilns were all much the same size and therefore multiple kilns— three at Annery— were necessary to increase production. Each kiln usually made between 25 and 30 tonnes of lime in a batch; at Annery they may have been fired in rotation to ensure a continuous supply.

Typically each kiln took around a day to load, three days to fire, two days to cool and a day to unload. The degree of burning was controlled by trial and error from batch to batch by varying the amount of fuel used. There were large temperature differences between the center of a charge and the material close to the wall, so a mixture of under-burned, well-burned and dead-burned lime was normally produced. Typical fuel efficiency was low and the job was labour intensive, with a loading gang and an unloading gang who would work the kilns in rotation through the week. The heat was intense and the smoke considerable, making this a very dangerous occupation.

Lime and its uses

Lime kilns are used to produce Calcium oxide or quicklime by calcinating limestone. The reaction involved takes place at around 900°C, but a temperature around 1000°C is usually used to make the reaction proceed more quickly.Parkes, G.D. and Mellor, J.W. (1939). "Mellor's Modern Inorganic Chemistry" London: Longmans, Green and Co.] Excessive temperature is avoided because it produces unreactive or "dead-burned" lime.

Lime is used in building as a mortars and also as a stabilizer in mud renders and floors. [Hewlett, P. C. (Ed), (1998). "Lea's Chemistry of Cement and Concrete: 4th Ed", Arnold, ISBN 0-340-56589-6, Chapter 1] Lime is much used in agriculture, but it only became widely possible when the use of coal made it cheaper [Platt, Colin (1978). "Medieval England", BCA, ISBN 0-7100-8815-9, pp 116-7] .

Land transportation of bulky minerals like limestone and coal was difficult in the pre-industrial era due to the poor condition of the roads, so they were distributed by sea; the lime most often being manufactured at small coastal ports and then taken inland by carts. Many of the surviving kilns are still to be seen on quaysides around the coastline of the United Kingdom.

History of Annery and Weare Giffard

Annery is a small settlement nearby. Old maps show that a country house of that name existed there in the 18th century. Another lime kiln existed opposite Weare Giffard and the name was either used to distinguish the two or Annery may have been the manorial kiln which supplied the tenants.

During a visit to Annery Kiln in 1971 one of the old cottages had a chimney fire. The householder sorted the problem out by firing both barrels of a 12 bore shotgun up the offending chimney, extinguishing the fire whilst at the same time 'cleaning the chimney!'Griffith, R. S. Ll. (1971). "Annery Kiln, Weare Giffard." Grenville College project. Supervisor Mr. B. D. Hughes.]

In the 1970s the kiln was used as a garage and store (see photographs) and was a community in its own right, known as Annery Kiln.

The small shipyard that had existed at Annery was moved down to the sea lock when the canal was built. [http://therollecanal.co.uk/when.html The Rolle Canal. Rolle Canal and Northern Devon Waterways Society website] ]

William Tardrew of Annery was a share holder in the Rolle Canal Company and held lands along the length of the canal. [http://therollecanal.co.uk/when.html The Rolle Canal. Rolle Canal and Northern Devon Waterways Society website] ]

Adjacent to the Annery kiln is Brick Marsh, which was the site of the Devon or Annery Pottery. [http://therollecanal.co.uk/when.html The Rolle Canal. Rolle Canal and Northern Devon Waterways Society website] ]

The name of the village is variously written as Weare 'Giffard' or 'Gifford,' the former being more frequently used. The Giffard family are recorded as having been in the area since at least the year 1219.Gover, J. E. B., Mawer, A. and Stenton, F. M. (1931). "The Place-Names of Devon". Part 1, Pub. Cambridge University Press. p. 111.] Annery was first recorded as 'Auri' in 1193.Gover, J. E. B., Mawer, A. and Stenton, F. M. (1931). The Place-Names of Devon. Part 1, Pub. Cambridge University press. P. 101.]

The Beam Aqueduct (see illustration) has long been used as a road bridge to a private house and below it were filmed several pivotal scenes for the Tarka the Otter film.

References and Bibliography

External links

* [http://therollecanal.co.uk/index.html The Rolle Canal Society website]
* [http://www.wearegiffard.info/ The Weare Gifford Community website.]


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