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Warwickshire's Industrial Railways

Harbury Cement Works

Eight miles south of Leamington Spa in the parish of Bishop's Itchington, Richard Greaves established a Blue Lias Limeplant in 1820, but when in 1847 Major General Sir Charles Pasley wrote his treatise on cement, he mentioned that the Greaves Works was one of only three places in the country producing ‘water cement’ (a description used for pre-Portland artificial cement). Following the opening of the Great Western Railway in 1852, Greaves, Bull and Lakin established a new cement works adjacent to the line in 1855. They claimed to make Portland cement, but the independent consultant Charles Spackman later wrote that the ‘true’ product was only made when a double burning and wet process was adopted by the company in 1864.

With no canal connections the Harbury Works relied on the railway for importing coal to fuel the kilns and export the final products. It is known that the Great Western Railway modified the railway connections at Harbury in 1883 and that a nameplate was ordered for the first Signal Box at Greaves Siding in July 1899. Further alterations were made to the track in 1907 with the addition of a down goods line and a second connection to the Works. Possibly as a result of the wartime increase in cement requirements, the original Signal Box was replaced in February 1918.

There were four bottle kilns in operation by 1882 producing 120 tons of Portland cement per week, but capacity increased with the introduction of new kiln technology and by 1907 there were eleven Johnson chamber kilns and seven Batchelor chamber kilns producing 600 tons per week. The first rotary kiln (A1) was supplied by Krupp and installed in 1909. Although this 30 foot long kiln almost doubled the works output by producing 78 tons per day, the chamber kilns continued in intermittent operation until a second longer rotary kiln, supplied by Ernest Newell, was installed in 1912. A third rotary kiln supplied by Edgar Allen, was installed in 1924 and the two older kilns were lengthened in the same year. A1 was now 48 foot long, while both A2 and A3 were 160 foot long. The total capacity of the three rotary kilns was 343 tons per day. Slurry sprays were successfully installed on the three kilns in 1926 and this both improved the plant’s efficiency by about 15% and also increased emissions of kiln dust into the environment.

In 1927, Harbury Works was purchased by the Allied Cement Manufacturers (ACM) known as the ‘Red Triangle Group’ under the chairmanship of Henry Horne, however within a few years the economic climate had lead to overcapacity in the cement industry and ACM went bankrupt in 1931. The cement interests of ACM including Harbury Works were acquired from the receiver by Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers (APCM) in April 1932. APCM is best known as the owner of the 'Blue Circle' cement brand. Immediately after taking over the Harbury Works the slurry spraying in kiln A3 was replaced with a chain system and in 1938 a desiccator was added. Kilns A1 and A2 were also replaced with newer second-hand kilns from Ellesmere Port in 1933, and Burham in 1937, being renamed B1 and B2 respectively. The Harbury Works continued to produce Lias lime products in addition to cement until 1939. The three rotary cement kilns remained in service until manufacturing ceased in December 1970 and the site became a depot. In 1994 the remaining buildings were demolished and the site cleared. The information on the cement work's was derived from Dylan Moore's website 'Cement Plants and Kilns in Britain and Ireland'.

Details of the various locomotives that operated in the Harbury Cement Works and quarries are given in the tables below:

Locomotive
(Std. Gauge)
Type Manufacturer Works No Date Acquired Disposal
No 5 Hawk 0-4-0ST       Ex A.R. Adams, Newport Scrapped
circa 1933
No 7 0-4-0ST         Scrapped
before 1937
No 8 0-4-0ST Baguley Cars Ltd. Shobnall Rd, Burton
Rebuilt by Hudswell, Clarke & Co Ltd. Leeds
No 621 1919
1928
Ex Thomas Salt & Co, Burton 1928  
Whitby No 9 0-4-0ST Peckett & Sons Ltd.
Atlas Locomotive Works, Bristol
No 1505 1918 Ex Ellesmere Port Works C1933  
Cunarder 0-6-0ST Hunslet Engine Co Ltd. Leeds No 1690 1931 March 1957 April 1969 acquired for preservation
             
Locomotive
(3’ Gauge)
Type Manufacturer Works No Date Acquired Disposal
No 1 Hawk 0-4-2ST Kerr Stuart & Co Ltd.
California Works, Stoke on Trent
No 1213 1914   To Holborough Cement Co.
No 2 Lark 0-4-0ST Hunslet Engine Co Ltd. Leeds No 704 1904 Ex Sir Robert McAlpine Scrapped circa 1938
No 3 Eagle 0-4-0ST Peckett & Sons Ltd.
Atlas Locomotive Works, Bristol
No 1654 1924   Scrapped prior 1947
No 4 0-4-0ST Peckett & Sons Ltd.
Atlas Locomotive Works, Bristol
No 1663 1924   Scrapped prior 1947
No.6 0-4-0ST Peckett & Sons Ltd.
Atlas Locomotive Works, Bristol
No 1720 1926   Scrapped prior 1947
No 12 0-4-0¹ Sentinel Waggon Works (1936) Ltd.
Shrewsbury
No 6255   New Derelict 1945
No 13 0-4-0¹ Sentinel Waggon Works (1936) Ltd.
Shrewsbury
No 6256   New Derelict 1943
No 3 0-4-0¹ Sentinel Waggon Works (1936) Ltd.
Shrewsbury
No 6257   New Derelict 1937

Note¹ - Vertical cylinders, geared transmission

Two 3’ gauge 2-4-0 Diesel locomotives were purchased from John Fowler & Co (Leeds) Ltd. in 1933.
The Harbury Cement Works also had a 1’11½” gauge railway operated by five Simplex 4 wheel petrol locomotives (at least two of which were ex War Department). By 1946, this narrow gauge track had been removed and all stock was derelict.

Robert Ferris

On the GWR mainline

View of the second signal box at Greaves Siding which was opened on 3rd February 1918
Ref gwrgs2255
JGS Smith
View of the second signal box erected at Greaves Siding which was opened on 3rd February 1918
A Signalling Diagram for Greaves Siding Signal Box, showing the track and signalling layout circa 1952
Ref gwrgs2256
SRS
A Signalling Diagram for Greaves Siding Signal Box, showing the track and signalling layout circa 1952
The complete rotary cement kiln transferred by rail from the APCM Cement Works to Harbury Works in May 1933
Ref: gwrgs2764
Great Western Railway
The complete rotary cement kiln transferred by rail from the APCM Cement Works to Harbury Works in May 1933
The main cement kiln cylinder on a 25 ton boiler trolley wagon, telegraphic code name 'Crocodile F'
Ref: gwrgs2763
Great Western Railway
The main cement kiln cylinder on a 25 ton boiler trolley wagon, telegraphic code name 'Crocodile F'
Ex-GWR 60xx (King) class 4-6-0 No 6014 'King Henry VII' passes Harbury Cement Works on the up main line
Ref: gwrgs2762
Great Western Railway
An end view of the train loaded with the rotary cement kiln components transferred from the APCM Cement Works

Ex-GWR 60xx (King) class 4-6-0 No 6014 'King Henry VII' passes Harbury Cement Works on the up main line
Ref gwrgs2257
R Blenkinsop
Ex-GWR 60xx (King) class 4-6-0 No 6014 'King Henry VII' passes Harbury Cement Works on the up main line
The Birmingham Blue Pullman passes Harbury Cement Works on the Down Main Line in the 1960s
Ref gwrgs1854
Allan Hailstone
The Birmingham Blue Pullman passes Harbury Cement Works on the Down Main Line in January 1961

Views of Harbury Cement Works and locomotives

An aerial photograph of the Harbury Cement works dated 29th October 1927, with the GWR's Birmingham Main line clearly visible to the east
Ref: misc_hcw169
Aerofilms
Harbury Cement works dated 29th October 1927, with the GWR's Birmingham Main line clearly visible to the east
Early 1930s view of Harbury Cement Works now owned by Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers
Ref: misc_hcw175
WoW
Early 1930s view of Harbury Cement Works now owned by Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers
Pecjkett 0-4-0ST No 9 'Whitby' photographedin the sidings at Harbury Cement Works in September 1950
Ref gwrfc171
KJ Cooper
Pecjkett 0-4-0ST No 9 'Whitby' photographedin the sidings at Harbury Cement Works in September 1950
Rebuilt by Hudswell Clarke & Co. Ltd in 1928, 0-4-0ST No8 is seen here at Harbury Cement Works in circa 1947
Ref gwrfc170
Anon
Rebuilt by Hudswell Clarke & Co. Ltd in 1928, 0-4-0ST No 8 is seen here at Harbury Cement Works in circa 1947
Thought to be the last steam locomotive on site, 0-6-0ST ‘Cunarder’ stands derelict at the closed Harbury Cement Works
Ref: gwrfc172
Anon
Thought to be the last steam locomotive on site, 0-6-0ST ‘Cunarder’ stands next to the closed Harbury Cement Works

Photograph of the derelict saddle tank 0-6-0ST ‘Cunarder’ at Harbury Cement Works in 1969
Ref: misc_hcw173
Anon
Photograph of the derelict saddle tank 0-6-0ST ‘Cunarder’ at Harbury Cement Works in 1969
A Private Owner covered wagon belonging to Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers in 1948
Ref: misc_hcw174
HMRS
A Private Owner covered wagon belonging to Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers in 1948
Ex-GWR 60xx (King) class 4-6-0 No 6014 'King Henry VII' passes Harbury Cement Works on the up main line
Ref: misc_hcw219
GWR Magazine
Rotary tipper in the process of discharging limestone from a GWR 20 ton wagon at the Harbury Cement Works

Great Western Railway
Appendix to No 13 Section of the
Service Time Tables
March 1929 and until further notice

GREAVES SIDINGS – SOUTHAM ROAD AND HARBURY
1 Messrs Greaves, Bull and Lakin perform their shunting work at this place with a private engine accompanied by a shunter employed by the firm. The engine works into and out of the two Sidings set apart for the firm’s traffic situated on the Down Side of the line.
2 The engine must cease operations in the Sidings referred to when requested by the Great Western Signalman or Shunter to do so for a GW train to work.
3 There are Up and Down Main Line connections. One of the Sidings extends at the north end into the Down Goods Running Loop.
4 A swing block over both rails of this Siding is provided clear of the connection from the Down Main Line to the Goods Running Loop, and, when not in use, the swing block must be placed across the Siding rails and secured in that position by padlock, the key of which must be kept in Greaves Siding Signal Box.
5 When it is necessary to remove the swing block for shunting purposes, the GW Guard or Shunter must obtain the key of the padlock from the Signal Box, and after the work is completed, the man returning the key to the Signal Box will be responsible for seeing that all vehicles are clear inside the swing block and that the latter is padlocked across the Siding.
6 Messrs Greaves, Bull and Lakin’s men must not b allowed in any circumstances to have possession of the key or interfere in any way with the swing block.
7 During the time the key of the padlock is out of the Signal Box no train must be diverted to the Down Goods Running Loop without a clear understanding between the Signalman and the Guard performing the shunting operations.
8 Guards of trains calling to put off or pick up at these Sidings must satisfy themselves that all is clear before commencing operations, and have a clear understanding with the man in charge of the firm’s engine if it is about.

STATION TRUCK TRAFFIC FOR GREAVES’ SIDINGS

Up Traffic – Whenever there are articles in the Station Truck sent by the 8.25 am ex Bordesley Junction and there are any of Greaves, Bull & Lakin’s wagons on the train, the articles must be transhipped at Harbury into one of that firms’s empty lime wagons going into the Works. Should there be no such wagon on the train, the traffic must be put out at Harbury and afterwards loaded in one of Greaves, Bull & Lakin’s wagons going into the sidings.
Down Traffic – One of Greaves, Bull & Lakin’s empty wagons to be kept back at Banbury for this Train, and the traffic for Greaves’ Works transhipped into it; should this not be possible at any time then traffic must be put out at Harbury Station, and sent to Greaves Works.
The Goods Agents at Banbury and Harbury must see the wagons so used are properly labelled and the invoices and Station Truck lists duly marked showing transfer into wagon going to Greaves, Bull and Lakin’s Works.
The Guards, must, however take advantage of any lengthened wait at intermediate Stations to effect the transfer before reaching Harbury or Banbury.

Record of Wagons attached and detached at Greaves’ Sidings.
A list giving particulars of traffic attached and detached at Southam Road, must be prepared by the Guard of the trains which call at these Sidings.
The Guards of Down Trains must hand the list to the Station Master at Southam Road.
The Guards of Up Trains must hand the list to the Station Master at Fenny Compton, who must forward it to the Southam Road Station Master.

Specific Engine Whistles at Greaves’ Siding
Main to Loop .. .. .. .. .. .. 2 Whistles

ROLLING STOCK WORKED INTO PRIVATE SIDINGS
The undermentioned restrictions in regard to Rolling Stock worked into Private Sidings are in operation, and must be observed by all concerned: At Southam Road Station – Greaves’ Siding – All but four wheeled stock of ordinary dimensions are prohibited.

List of Special Advices to be sent from various places to the Traffic Controller: Greaves Siding – Signal Box – Information is to be sent by Checker – Particulars of traffic requiring clearance from Private Sidings.

SUSPENDING SHUNTING MOVEMENTS WHILST PASSENGER TRAINS PASS
Before the Signals are lowered for Passenger Trains any of the following Shunting movements must be suspended, and the Shunter or Guard told not to move the vehicles until the Passenger Train has passed.
The Signalman must give the ‘cease shunting’ order and see that it is obeyed in time to enable the Signals to be lowered for the Passenger Train without causing delay to it.
At Greaves Siding Signal Box when Passenger Train passing:
On Up Main – Shunting movements to be stopped are Down Main to Down Sidings or setting back to rear of Train standing on Down Main.
On Down Main – Shunting movements to be stopped are setting back to rear of Train standing on Up Main.