Near Much Wenlock
The Knowle Quarry Lime Kilns sit upon the side of the 15-mile-long limestone escarpment that makes up Wenlock Edge, an area that has a long history of quarrying and industry. The Knowle Quarry Lime Kilns not only hint at the industrial past one situated in this beautiful location, but also show how nature can reclaim a site after the machines have left.
These were 'running' kilns, i.e. they operated continuously. Limestone was unloaded directly into the top of the kiln, along with alternate layers of coke. Coke provided the fuel to heat the limestone to a temperature of over 900*C, converting it into calcium oxide or 'quicklime'. The quicklime clinker dropped to the bottom of the kiln, where it was extracted via the draw hole. It was then 'slaked' with water to reduce it volatile qualities, crating a fine powder known as lime.
Lime was used for many purposes, but primarily as a building material and in agriculture as a soil improver. The production and distribution of lime developed into an important industry in this area - 100 years ago the scene would have been a frenzy of activity as merchants from Much Wemlock arrived to collect supplies of lime which they distributed via Presthope Station to the country's rail network. But developments in technology were soon to render small kilns like these uneconomic and they ceased production in 1925.