|THE INDUSTRIAL RAILWAY RECORD
© JUNE 1968
|(3) ADAMANT CEMENT WORKS
K. P. PLANT
The early history of these cement works, situated just over a mile west of Barton-on-Humber, has not been definitely established, but it is thought that they were built about 1880 with bricks supplied locally by C. F. Burley. Clay was dug in the immediate vicinity and some was also supplied by C. F. Burley, but the chalk quarry, some distance inland, was connected to the works by a horse-worked 2' 0" gauge tramway just under a mile in length.
In 1897, the Hull firm of Kelsey's Adamant Cement Co. Ltd., finding that their Morley Street Cement Works in Stoneferry (commenced about 1880 by Martin Brown & Co. Ltd.) allowed no room for future expansion, decided to close down and transfer production to Barton-on-Humber. As raw materials were close at hand the local sailors, who plied to London with cargoes of Barton bricks and tiles and returned to Hull with Kentish chalk ostensibly as ballast, found that they had lost a valued customer.
For a few years prior to 1897 the quarry and part of the tramway were used by a contractor named Jimmy Mitchell who was shipping chalk from a point south-west of Chowder Ness across the Humber for use in the construction of the extension of the Alexandra Dock in Hull. Mitchell used as motive power a diminutive 0−4−0 tank locomotive, distinguished by having a vertical boiler but recalled as being very feeble and unable to pull more than three or four loaded wagons. Rather aptly it rejoiced under the name PROGRESS. When Mitchell's contract was completed, Kelsey's purchased PROGRESS and did away with horse traction. Two years later in 1899, when the tramway was converted to 3' 0" gauge, PROGRESS became redundant, but whether it was sold for re-use or for scrap is not known.
The arrival of the first 3' 0" gauge locomotive in February 1899 caused great excitement among the residents of Barton for, after being unloaded from a well-truck at the railway station, she proceeded slowly to the Works under her own steam, running on short lengths of temporary track laid down on the roadway. It was decided that she should be named after the brand of cement manufactured by the Company, and ADAMANT nameplates were soon affixed. Originally named ISABELLA, she was an 0−4−0 saddle tank with 9½" by 14" outside cylinders and 2' 6" diameter wheels, and was built by The Hunslet Engine Co. Ltd., Leeds, in 1886, works number 404, for use by J.P. Edwards on a contract at Ripley in Derbyshire. She was later owned by another firm of contractors, S. Pearson & Son Ltd., by G. Taylor during at least 1897 and 1898 and, immediately before purchase by Skelsey's, by G.E. Wade. ADAMANT was a much more powerful engine than PROGRESS but worked at Barton for only a few years. In about June 1903 she returned to Hunslet for the fitting of a new copper firebox, but by November the following year she was working for the Executors of T.S. Dixon on the construction of the Donegal - Ballyshannon branch of the Donegal Railway.
This map is drawn as accurately as possible from the information available. The clay pit siding is not shown as its position was not static. Barton Cliff Quarry is said to have been opened out by Doughty to supply chalk for the Alexandra Dock extensions at Hull. A tramway to the Humber (contemporary with Mitchell's 2ft line) was worked by a horse which rode down to the jetty and then pulled the empty wagons back. The quarry came into the ownership of Robson's and in 1912 was acquired by G. & T. Earle Ltd. It was closed down in 1915 and the tramway, whose gauge regrettably I failed to establish, was lifted some time afterwards.
It appears that another 0−4−0 saddle tank of unknown build and origin had been acquired before 1905, and was also named ADAMANT. Before going into service her square wooden buffers had to be lowered to match up with those on the wagons, but no further alterations were necessary.
The acquisition of the Company by G. & T. Earle Ltd. on 1st July 1912 preceded the delivery of the next locomotive, which may have been in 1912 or 1914. The locomotive in question was ordered on 6th August 1912 from Manning, Wardle & Co. Ltd. of Leeds for delivery during the latter part of September 1912. The makers claim to have despatched the engine (works number 1807 to Earle's Hessle Quarry, near Hull, on 4th November 1912. It is not recollected at Hessle, which was just being opened out at the time, whilst it is thought to have arrived at Barton in new condition, albeit in or about 1914. Carrying neither name or number, she was an 0−4−0 saddle tank with 9" by 14" outside cylinders and 2' 6" diameter wheels, and boasted an enclosed cab in contrast to the weatherboard on ADAMANT. The latter worked but little from this date and was taken away in 1915, possibly for scrap.
During Earle's period of ownership the track was laid with flat-bottom rail spiked to second-hand standard gauge sleepers sawn to size. The more lighter bullhead rail was to be found only in the quarry sidings which were laid with both types. The wagons were square side-tippers about 4' 6" long and about 2' 6" deep, and fitted with square wooden buffers. The wooden bodies were constructed by the works' carpenters, and only the wheels (about 1' 6" in diameter and axles were purchased ready made. There was a stock of well over a hundred wagons, each able to carry 12 tons of chalk or nearly 2 tons of clay.
One locomotive in steam daily was sufficient and no loops were therefore necessary on the single track tramway. It was very slightly uphill to the works and the engine always worked chimney first out of the quarry, setting back into the clayfield to attach loaded wagons when required. Clay was dug on a two-hundred yard face, and the clayfield siding was continually being moved back. A little farther on was a fifty-yard trailing storage siding, with another three in the works area. One held twelve wagons and was fly-shunted, another holding six terminated by the chalk-mill, whilst the third led into the single road locomotive shed. The latter was large enough to hold two locomotives and, as there was no fitting shop, an inspection pit was provided. The tramway continued along to the wooden jetty where it ended at a pair of buffer stops, fashioned from old rails and sleepers.
Official photograph of Manning Wardle 1807. The rear of the cab should be straight (not curved), distortion having occurred when the photograph was originally copied.
Manning Wardle 1807 with a set of twelve loaded wagons read to leave the quarry. (Author's collection)
The clayfield and quarry employees worked on day shifts only, but those in the traffic department worked three shifts in order to clear all loaded chalk wagons from the quarry at night. The maximum load was twelve full wagons and, as the clayfield siding was only shunted by day, it was a clear run through to the chalk-mill at night. There was no lighting other than that provided by the two oil-lamps carried on the locomotive - one at the top of the smokebox and the other at the centre of the rear of the cab roof. Dumps of both chalk and clay at the works were sufficient to last for about a week, and production was not held up should there be an engine failure. Production had greatly increased following the installation of a rotary kiln in 1912 shortly after Earle's took over. This supplemented the output from the older chamber kilns and sometimes there was sufficient traffic to justify two boats calling daily instead of the normal one.
During 1924 a four-wheel "Simplex" type petrol locomotive with chain drive came on trial but, although staying about a month, it worked on only two or three occasions. It was equipped with an armour plate cab and had been built originally by Motor-Rail & Tramcar Co. Ltd., Bedford, for the War Department. There has been a suggestion that this machine came from Earle's Humber Works across the river at North Ferriby, but it cannot be confirmed.
Another locomotive which arrived late in 1924 came direct from Humber Works, but did little work as it was not sufficiently powerful. Named OLD UN, it was a diminutive 0−4−0 saddle tank of unknown build, and having a bent-over weatherboard and no back to the cab.
During the period of the General Strike in 1926, and owing to the stoppage of coal and raw material supplies, all of Earle's works except Barton closed down for about ten days. It came as a great shock the following year when it was decided to close down completely, rather than modernise the obsolete plant. Great hardship was caused to the workers and many were unable to- obtain other employment. George Cohen, Sons & Co. Ltd. purchased the mechanical plant for scrap, and it is believed that both locomotives were taken away by ship for scrap. The kilns and chimneys were dismantled at intervals during the next few years, and the derelict site was eventually sold in 1950 to Mr. C. Barratt of Goxhill. The course of the tramway can still be traced from the rotting jetty and through the fields to the overgrown quarry.
I am indebted to Mr. Billy Newmarsh of Barton for his reminiscences which provided the basis of this article. Unfortunately, G. & T. Earle Ltd. have been unable to corroborate the historical information.
Although spares were sent by Hunslet to Kelsey's Adamant Cement Co. Ltd. in February 1899, it seems that this title was not registered until 1st January 1900. It was "to take over the business of cement manufacturer, carried on by G. H. Skelsey, at Hull." The capital authorised was £50,000 in £10 shares and the first subscribers were G. H. Kelsey, Hy. Skelsey, F. Reynolds (a Knottingley lime merchant), A. Kelsey, W. Skelsey, A. Brearby and R. Brearby. The last four named were cloth manufacturers in Batley!
For the record....
"Mr Hacking (General Manager) reported that the axle of the locomotive engine belonging to Mr Pearson of Wigan, coalowner, who is in the habit of bringing coke, etc., over the Blackburn & Preston line, had on Saturday last broken when the said engine was passing over the line near Farringdon, and had thereby blocked up the line for three hours, & done considerable damage to the chairs & etc. at that place & that it had been necessary to despatch a special train to Preston, thereby incurring additional expense to the Company.
Resolved, that an account embodying the above items be immediately prepared and presented to Mr Pearson...." (Extracted from the Minutes dated 18th October 1848 of the Managing Committee of the East Lancashire Railway Company by H.W.Paar.)