- Last Updated: Thursday, 14 November 2019 20:01
- Written by Graham Brooks
The villages of Cumwhinton and Cotehill today look to be peaceful agricultural villages, in the past they had the usual agricultural support businesses such as blacksmithing and milling. There was a selection of the usual tradesmen supporting the people in the villages such as shoe makers.
However there has been industries in the area including
The earliest evidence for brick and tile making in the Cumwhinton is in the 1841 census which has two tile makers listed
In 1847 Robert Richardson is in the Mannix & Whellan 1847 Directory as a tile maker but with no address. An advert in the Carlisle Journal in July 1849 has him at the Cumwhinton tile works. He appears in the 1851 census as a brick and tile manufacturer. By 1856 he is at the Moorhouse Brick and Tile Works.
In 1852 an advert in the Carlisle Journal for tiles for sale at Cocklakes Tilery owned by John Howe. He ran this tile works until possibly 1857 although it stops appearing in adverts for tiles involving his other two tile works at Chapel Hill and Eden Place.
In January 1857 an unnamed tile works at Cumwhinton is advertised for sale.
This tile works appears on the first edition Ordnance Survey map published in 1868 and surveyed in 1865.
!st Edition Ordnance Survey 1868 showing the tile works.
This field on the Tithe map (published 1842) is field B 265 called Acrefoot and is under arable cultivation. It is owned and farmed by George Peascod.
It is shown on the second edition map as a disused clay pit.
The Second Edition OS map (1:10,560) 1901 showing the three brick works at Cumwhinton.
CROWN BRICK AND TILE WORKS
CUMWHINTON BRICK AND TILE WORKS
CARLISLE BRICK AND TILE WORKS.
A report by Mr. J M Clark land agent and valuer Haltwhistle on the valuation of clay to be taken by the Midland Railway Co. from Crown Brick Works, Cumwhinton. (1900?)
Clay on the land in excellent quality, plastic clay free from impurities and few stones in it has not much cover and no serious expense at draining away the water from it. It makes excellent tiles and bricks booth of which find a ready market at remunerative prices. The clay under the railway and on the high and low side thereof is the nearest to the works and would be the first and most economical.
I have had supplied to me by Mr Beaty a statement of the cost of making the various tiles and bricks and the selling price at the works which I have carefully checked and I believe to be correct.
The largest sale of drainage pipes is 2.5 inch and the value of the clay to Mr. Beaty for making these is 5s 10d per cubic yard. in bricks the largest sale is common bricks and the value of the clay to Mr. Beaty for making these 2s 6d per cubic yard.
These are the manufacturers on which he makes the least profit but as they form the largest sale I have accepted them as the basis for my valuation I have calculated that twice as much clay will be used in making bricks as tiles and this gives an average value for the clay of as 7d.
The quantites of clay have been agreed and are for the high side 6222 cubic yards for the low side 6757 and for under the railway 10647 making a total of 23626 cubic yards.
I deduct waste 2626 cubic yards which is rather more than 10% of the total quantity.
The whole of this clay cannot of course be used in one year and I finds the quantity used last year was 3000 cubic yards and I have taken that as the basis of my calculations this would show that it would require 7 years to use up the whole of this clay and I have therefore made my calculations as under
7 years at 3000 cubic yards at s 7d gives 537 pounds 10s. per annum defferred at 4% giving total 33354 pounds
PRICE LIST FOR TILES
JOIHN BEATY AND CO.
CROWN BRICK AND TILE WORKS, CUMWHINTON, CARLISLE.
Head Office Harraby Green
Price at works per1000
2inch 2.5 inch 3 inch 4 inch 5 inch 6 inch
29s 39s 47s6d 65s 100s 130s
Also kept in stock
7.5 inch 18 inches long 9d/yard
9 inch 18 inches long 1s/yard
Northumberland record office ref. A zcl/b/522
An example of a marked brick from the works
The works were then advertised for sale in October 1924.
Unfortunately there is no description of the plant. Mr Taylor is the tennant of the premises.
CUMWHINTON BRICK AND TILE WORKS
About 1883 Thomas Hamilton who owned the Braidwood Brick works in Lanarkshire opened the Cumwhinton Brick and Tile Works, William Hamilton was appointed as manager. In 1901 James Hamilton, Williams son, was appointed manager. Thomas retired in 1902 and the site was sold.
Nicholas Wright ran the site under the same name with adverts from 1904 till 1910, he was a market gardener in 1914.
To date no products that can be directly associated with the works have been found.
Originally owned by Claude Lonsdale under who's name it occasionally traded as the Lonsdale brick and tile works. The first reference is in 1884 when William McMorran was manager and William Corme was foreman. They had both worked previously Lampits Tile Works.
By 1911 the site was owned by M. Richardson and son.
The site was not in use by 1930 when it was bought by the Carlisle Plaster and Cement Company who were running the nearby cocklakes plaster works. Mr. Ruding Bryan was appointed manager and they produced the 'usual products' and also dried clay blocks which were sent to Mcghie's plaster works at Kirkby Thorpe for use in hard wall plaster.
After a chequered history they sold the works to Vaugham Brothers of Newcastle.
In the 1960s an ex-war department Hudson-Hunslett 20-hp, 2-foot guage locomotive was used on the site. Works number 2577 of 1942
Advert in the 1894 Whellans Directory.
Bill from the Lonsdale's Carlisle Brick and Tile works.
A perforated brick typical of the type produced by the works.
An example of a chimney pot made by the works
Another example of a chimney pot by the firm with the makers stamp.
A chimney pot modelled on Wellinton on a cottage in Aglionby. This was possibly one of two pots that were originally on a cottage at Whoof House. The other pot was modelled on Blucher.
A down draught kiln at the works (now demolished).
The works also did various pottery figures and other items. The main modeller was William McMorran
A statue of a cow.
A glazed hall stand
A glazed garden urn.
(above three photos are CRO/DX1576/34-35.)
The tithe map has one field 94 shown as a stone quarry. It was owned by Margaret Creighton and rented by Thomas Robson.
2nd edition Ordnance Survey map 1899 showing disused quarries at Cumwhinton.
Gypsum is a natural form of Calcium sulphate (CaSO4). This occurs in two forms a hydrated form with 2 water molecules attached to each Calcium sulphate molecule this is called Gypsum. There is also an anhydrite form which as the name states has no water attached. These two forms tend to occur in beds together and until well into the 20th century the anhydrite form was generally a waste product.
The gypsum of the Eden valley was formed in the Premian/Triassic period about 270 million years ago. When most of the area was desert and the red sandstones forming most of the structure of the area were laid down. Occasional lakes formed and as these evaporated the calcium sulphate salts were left behind in large beds.
A hard form is also found known as Alabaster which has been used for carving statues especially in the medieval period. To date I have found no evidence of alabaster being used in Cumbria for statues. There is the Salkeld monument in Wetheral church and is fairly typical of the type with the knight and his wife carved in alabaster above a table tomb.
In its crushed or powdered state gypsum has been used for a variety of uses mainly for its whiteness and was called either Mineral White or Terra Alba. This is basically very fine ground gypsum and in the best quality is free of any contamination. It was mainly used in the paper trade where it was used as a filler. Another important use was for dusting in coal mines to prevent explosions from coal dust. Other uses included in the manufacture of paints and also in cotton and lace goods. One book states that it was as an adulterant for various substances which is possibly slightly slanderous when we consider that Joseph Robinson one of the major developers of Gypsum mining and processing in north Cumbria was originally a flour miller at Denton Holme Mill in Carlisle. However there is this advert from the Carlisle Journal of 1843.
Another use is as a manure, Gypsum has been used as a source of Sulphate especially used by hop growers. It was also shown that if it was mixed with manure in the farmyard it had the effect of reducing the amount of ammonia lost from the manure and therefore increased its value. It was also added to superphosphate fertilizers to partially dilute the latter.
Advert Carlisle Journal 11th March 1843.
Apparently gypsum can be used for clearing Beer a process known as Clarifying and later we will see that Robinsons list this as one of the uses of their products.
One of the other products which we have not yet mentioned are step whiteners. One of the small quarries (Kirby Thorpe) in the area produced these by basically lightly heating the blocks of gypsum and then using a horse mill to break them down to a suitable size for women to use to whiten their front door steps. The plant made 2 tons of stones per week and sold for eight a penny.
The great advantage of gypsum is that if it is heated some or all of the water of crystalisation can be driven off. If the remaining product is then ground and water is re-added the dried gypsum absorb the water and will then set into a solid mass..
If heated to between 128c and 163c approximately half of the water is driven off and you are left with a hemihydrate this is Plaster of Paris.
If it is heated to 200c the whole of the water is driven off leaving soluble anhydrite
If it is heated to higher levels it is said to be over-burnt
As the temperature of the burning increases the time taken for the resultant product to set after the water is added back increases until it has been heated to over 600c when it will not set unless an accelerator is used.
To allow plaster to be used if it has been heated to a low level then there is a need to add a retardant to slow the rate of setting to allow you to work with it. But for high temperature plasters there is a need to add an accelerator to make it set.
Plaster production started in England in the 13th century but no evidence for Cumbria until much later.
The list of products that have been used as either retardants or accelerators is quite weird and wonderful and a large number were patented in the nineteenth centuryRetardants for Plaster of Paris included Keratin which was derived from boiling animal hair, horns and hoofs in caustic soda part of the rendering business.
Accelerators included Pearl ash and sulphuric acid mixed with the calcined gypsum. This was known as Martins Cement patented in 1834 by R F Martin. In1838 R Keene patented Keenes cement which involved mixing Plaster of Paris with Alum or Aluminium Sulphate in warm water then drying it and re-calcifying it at 400 - 500oc and then regrinding it. In 1846 J Keating patented Parian Cement by mixing Plaster of Paris with borax again in warm water then drying, re-calcifying and grinding.
Although technically they are plasters they were called cements to try and compete with the Portland cement which had been patented by Joseph Aspdin of Leeds in 1824. A mixture of lime and clay that had been heated and ground.
So what were the processes? Basically two processes for making plaster from gypsum either it can be baked or boiled. Baking this involves breaking the gypsum into small lumps that were calcined in a kiln or oven then taken out and ground. The majority of modern processes involved boiling the gypsum. This used gypsum that was ground in some form of mill and was usually boiled in one of two types of vessels. Pans which were round shallow receptacles about 13 - 21 ft in diameter capable of holding 2 - 5 tons, usually built of firebricks or cylindrical pots known as kettles usually made from boiler plates. These were usually 10ft diameter and 8 to 10 ft deep with a capacity of 7 to 10 tons.
Both of these needed stirring and as the fresh charge got warm it was said to run like water and as the steam escaped it appeared to boil hence the term As the water was driven off the ability to flow decreased and the plaster started to ride up in front of the stirrers and it is then run off into hoppers. No doubt originally the stirring was done manually but by the 1930’s it was automated in some plants. It usually took 2 - 3 hours to boil plaster in kettles and 3 - 4 hours if pans were used, depending on the end product required.
The earliest reference I have to gypsum quarrying is in the description of the manor of Cumwhinton dating to about 1695 which has a gypsum quarry on the boundary to the south of Cotehill. But what the use of the gypsum was is not known. Presumably there was plasterers in the area doing ornate plaster work for some of the larger houses of the area and they may have made their own plaster.
The Dean and Chapter of Carlisle rented out their gypsum quarries in the manor of Carleton from the mid 17th century when part of the rent involved supplying the Dean and Chapter with a quantity of the gypsum at a set price each year about 12 tons. It is recorded as an export from Sandsfield the port area at the mouth of the river Eden in the early 19th Century although its destination or end use was not stated.
The earliest evidence for a mill used for gypsum processing is in the 1840s when a mill in Willowholme was converted by a Mr Taylor to process gypsum for both sale as gypsum and also burning into plaster. His source of gypsum is not stated.
It is a bit confusing with names here in 1840 a Mr John Taylor is a bankrupt corn miller at Willowholme but by 1843 a John Taylor is now using the premises for making plaster and selling ground gypsum. If we go back slightly further there is an advert in 1832 of a partnership between Rushton and Taylor as plasters and at this time there is no mention of making plaster. However come 1838 it appears the partnership has broken up and John Rushton has gone his own way. He was also selling a range of these so called cements made from gypsum. In 1843 Rushton is using the corn mills at both Harraby and Upperby for plaster production. Although he is producing plaster there is no evidence that he was quarrying the gypsum and was presumably buying it in.
Around the middle of the 19th Century, two companies that were to dominate the gypsum industry in Cumbria for the rest of the 19th century come to prominence exploiting the beds at Cocklakes and at Cotehill.
The first was Joseph Robinson who was a biscuit maker at Denton Holme Mill in Carlisle. He was processing both gypsum and flour there at the same time They appear to have moved the gypsum working to the site at Upperby probably after Mr Rushton left before moving to the quarry site at Knothill in 1873 which continued in operation till 1930 although quarrying of gypsum stopped in 1921 they used gypsum from Kirby Thorpe brought along the settle railway line.
They made all types of plasters including a keratin retarded plaster which was made by hand up until 1913.They also patented their own fire proof cement called Robinsons. There great advantages of this product are according to the publicity material. You can apply it to the walls of a room one day and use the room the next. Although the rate of setting is slower than Plaster of Paris and so makes plastering large areas easier.
Laid in a single coat . It is the best fire proof cement as certified by Captain Shaw of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. There is no expansion or contraction when it dries. Unlike lime plaster.
I t was widely used throughout the world including Hampton court Palace, and the house of parliament in South Africa.
The other main company in Carlisle was John Howe and Co. originally called Howe and Pigg they originally had works on Botchergate in Carlisle but moved out to the quarry site at Cocklakes in the 1873 This plant was powered by a steam engine from Hinds, Botchergate Foundry supplied with steam from boiler made by Pratchitts also of Carlisle. This plant was in use until 1927. Their range of products was very similar to those of Robinson with a wide range of plasters and cements. They made a Keenes cement under the name of Golden Sceptre from 1886.
One of the problems with the gypsum industry appeared to be number of small companies involved in the industry throughout the UK and their inability to produce sufficient profit to keep investing in new technology. Therefore at the turn of the nineteenth century there was a series of amalgamations initially locally to give The Carlisle Plaster and Cement Company. This was then sold to the Nottingham company of Gotham which eventually became the British Plaster Industries and what is now British Gypsum
During the twentieth century a lot of the processing work was centred on the Cocklakes site with eventually gypsum being transported by rail from both the Kirby Thorpe area and also the Knothill quarries for processing. The Cocklakes plant started making hard-wall plaster from 1925.
From the flow diagram for the Cocklakes mill for the 1930’s it gives some idea of the processes involved and the range of products produced.
One of the major developments in the plaster industry was the development of plaster board. This was patented by an American Augustine Sackett in 1890. Basically plaster board is a layer of plaster sandwiched between two layers of paper, The first plaster board plant in the UK was built at Wallasey on Merseyside but the plaster was to be supplied from the Mcghies mill at Kirby Thorpe. Plaster board were not readily accepted by the building trade in the UK. It was not until after the Second World War that both plaster and plasterboard really started to take off. Plasterboard started to be made at Cocklakes from 1937. One of the main problems with the plaster industry was getting the building trade to accept the different plasters and to use only plaster on wall and ceilings. For a long time a lime and sand mix was used as the base coat on most walls with either horse hair or something similar mixed in to give it strength and prevent it cracking.
Eventually a new plaster was developed called Carlite plaster. This was a light weight backing plaster made by mixing perlite a volcanic rock from Sardinia with gypsum plaster. It had the advantage that it was light and easy for the plasterers to use so they could plaster larger areas in a day. This product was made at both the mills at Cocklakes and Kirby Thorpe in the late 1950’s.
Anhydrite as already mentioned was usually looked on as a waste product and unsuitable for plaster making. Although some books do suggest that very find ground anhydrite would act like a plaster when water was added to it. I have found no evidence for this in Cumbria. The main use of anhydrite was the production of Sulphuric acid for further use in other chemical processes. The earliest use to date was in 1920’s when the Cocklakes supplied the ICI works at Billingham. This only lasted for a couple of years. During the second world war the Cocklakes mine supplied a new plant at Prudhoe with Anhydrite to produce sulphuric acid.
JOHN HOWIE AND THE COCKLAKES MINES
2nd edition Ordnance Survey map 1899 showing alabaster works at Cocklakes.
Advert Carlisle Journal 3rd August 1855.
A representation of the early Cokclakes works from a letterhead.
A later letterhead showing the development on the works.
Advert for John Howe and Co products.
Flow chart for the Cocklakes plant.
JOSEPH ROBINSON AND KNOT HILL WORKS.
2nd editon Ordnance Survey 1899. Showing the knothill plaster works.
2nd edition Ordnance Survey 1899. Showing Boaterby Quarry the major source of Gypsum for Knothill plaster works at the time.
Letter head for Joseph Robinson for there London Office.
Advert for Joseph Robinson's products.