Robinson’s kiln, Storrs Quarry from the air MYD1363 (c) YDNPA, 2023
A coal merchant from Skipton, Henry Robinson, took out the lease on Storrs Quarry in 1861 and established the Ingleton Lime Works to produce high quality lime and crushed limestone. He also dabbled with kiln technology, trying to come up with a way of separating fuel from lime to improve the quality of the end product. In 1863 he took out a patent on a new design of twin kiln. The surviving and impressive stone buttressing that can be seen here now is all that remains of his patent kiln, constructed a year before he registered the patent. The structure was described at the time as “immense” and it was capable of turning out 300 cart loads of lime daily. In 1870 he modified the design to produce an even better quality lime with improved fuel efficiency, and patented this new design in 1869.
The kiln consisted of two egg-shaped bowls encased in masonry and sharing a common chimney. Limestone was raised to the top using a pulley system and tipped into the bowl. Coal was burned in two fireboxes on each side of the bowl. Hot air from the fireboxes calcined the stone, and rose to dry out fresh stone higher up. Burnt lime fell to the bottom through discharge holes at the base of each bowl to be loaded directly into waiting carts. Lime from this kiln was available for purchase at the kiln for the equivalent of 3p per load, or at a slightly higher price at any railway station from Lancaster to Skipton, Nelson and Colne, and in the South Lakes. A system of steam jets linked to the fireboxes enabled the rate of combustion within the kiln to be enhanced. Robinson’s design proved to be much more fuel-efficient than industrial kilns of a more traditional design, and produced much purer lime.
Robinson gave up the lease in 1883 and left Storrs, but his successor worked the twin kiln until the end of that century.
The size of the stone buttressing – 6 metres high and 15 metres broad – hints at the massive scale of Robinson’s twin kiln.
Johnson, David (2002) Limestone Industries of the Yorkshire Dales. Stroud: Tempus