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Working Lime Kiln highlight of Marple dig

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MarpleMarple Lime KilnsSamuel OldknowMark Womersley

The construction of a working lime kiln will be the highlight of a week-long community archaeological dig, culminating in a public open day on Saturday 1 April at Marple Lime Kilns.

Visitors will have the opportunity to get hands on experience of lime burning and working with lime mortar and share the sights and smells evocative of an earlier era.

The Lime Kilns were built by entrepreneur Samuel Oldknow (1756 – 1828), who brought prosperity to the Marple and Mellor area by the construction of Mellor Mill, the Peak Forest Canal and the Lime Kilns.

Lime Kilns

Aided by volunteers, the Lime Kiln will be constructed by historic buildings expert Mark Womersley on Thursday 30 March, filled with limestone and coal to produce quicklime and when the process is completed on Saturday 1 April, the traditional lime mortar will be used to construct a wall.

Throughout the week (Monday 27 March – Friday 31 March) a community archaeological dig, under the guidance of archaeologists from the Centre for Applied Archaeology (CFAA), University of Salford will take place.  It is hoped they will find evidence of the activity of people and animals that worked and lived on the site, the buildings that were associated with the Lime Kilns and the tramway which connected them to the Peal Forest Canal.

The week’s activities will culminate with an Open Day at the site on Lime Kiln Lane on Saturday 1 April aimed at all ages. Activities include:

  • A guided walk to learn more about the history of the Lime Kilns and how they worked.
  • The opportunity to take part in our first ever Lego animation workshop to create a film showing how the Lime Kilns worked.
  • Help to make a junk model of the Lime Kilns, recycling rubbish to create something amazing.
  • Meet the archaeologists and examine the latest finds from the most recent dig.
  • See the final plans for the Lime Kilns landscaping.

To book to take part in the kiln build / open day events:

Lime Kilns

The building of a miniature kiln is taking place to highlight the importance of the Lime Kilns, after a survey revealed that many local residents were unaware of their existence, how they worked or the role that the production of quicklime played in the local and regional economy.

Revealing Oldknow’s Legacy Project Officer Fiona Turpin said: “The Lime Kilns are one of the Marple’s hidden historic gems and played an important role in fuelling the industrial revolution. Sadly, few people know of their existence or the importance of what they produced, but we hope to raise the profile by the activities taking place.

“The project is working closely with Marple Civic Society and its ‘Vision for Marple’ as a visitor destination, to create an attractive setting to showcase this important archaeological asset.

“The results of the archaeological excavations will contribute to this and a better understanding of the site. One of the aims is to share this knowledge with local people to help motivate them to care and look after the lime kilns through the creation of a Friends Group.”

Marple Lime Kilns are among three historic landmarks to be ‘revealed’ and opened up to the public as part of a £2.3 million project - thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £1.5 million and public donations to the Canal & River Trust and Mellor Archaeological Trust as part of the Revealing Oldknow’s Legacy Project.

Lime Kilns

The Lime Kilns were built between 1797 and 1802 and were designed to resemble a Gothic castle to enhance the view across the valley from Samuel

Oldknow’s home. The kilns were unique in including housing for workers behind the gothic designed windows and would have worked night and day to satisfy demand. Part of the site was demolished in the 1970s for safety reasons.

 Quicklime produced at the Lime Kilns fuelled the industrial revolution and was transported across the region via the Peak Forest Canal and used by farmers (as a soil improver), in the construction industry (for lime mortar) and in the textile industry (bleaching process).

For further information contact Clive Naish on 07969 974298 / .