Grove Lime Kiln

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Grove Lime Kiln is a disused lime kiln on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England. It is situated within The Grove village, and is owned by the prison service; the nearby Young Offenders Institution HM Prison Portland.[1] The lime kiln is found 320 metres north-west of St. Peter's Church, and has been Grade II Listed since January 2009.[2]


Upon the inception of the prison, various quarries were opened up within the Grove area for convicts to work in. A large majority of Portland's landscape is strongly influenced by the remains of past quarrying, as well as related transport and tramway systems, as well as subsidiary industries such as lime production. As a result of this many lime kilns would be built to produce quicklime through the calcination of limestone. The Grove Lime kiln dates from circa 1900, with the prison first opening in 1848. The lime kiln is one of at least six individual examples on Portland that existed between 1864 and 1902, built to process limestone from the surrounding quarries. The lime kiln was constructed and operated by prisoners from the Portland Convict Establishment (now the Young Offenders Institution). When the prisoners were first brought to Portland in 1848, they formed a valuable workforce on the island. The convicts would be employed in quarrying and general construction work, and this was originally to provide stone for the construction of Portland Harbour's breakwaters and the Verne Citadel. The conditions in the prison and its quarries during the latter half of the 19th century were a major catalyst for penal reform in this country, and many prisoners died while quarrying stone. Within The Grove village and surrounding areas, local entrepreneurs living adjacent to the prison quarries would charge visitors to view the prisoners at work from the upper windows of their houses. In 1921 the government decided to convert the prison into a Borstal Institution, and as a result the quarry and associated masonry works closed. It is likely that lime production at the Grove Lime kiln also ceased at about this time.[2][3][4]

Built of a limestone facing with a rubble core, the lime kiln is situated against an enhanced bank with a charging ramp to the right side to facilitate the loading of the kiln with fuel and broken limestone. The design of the building has a tapering cylindrical form, with the charging ramp being more rectangular in plan. When originally active the lime kiln was sited at the north end of a stone dressing yard, all set within a walled enclosure. This yard was principally used for dressing stone, and was located within the south western part of the disused Admiralty Quarry. Since this yard closed, several rectangular single storey buildings, associated tramways, and a large proportion of the boundary wall were demolished.[2] The 19th century prison wall, along with a huge rock outcrop of highly significant geological importance - Withies Wall - was demolished in June 1993 by the quarry owner of the time, despite not seeking permission or having any regard for the scheduled status of the wall. This Victorian security wall had old sentry posts. There was local outcry following this event, and today only a small section of the wall remains.[5]

File:Grove Lime Kiln Portland Dorset 7.JPG
Cast-iron surround to a fire grate.

Within the exterior of the building, the ashlar kiln pot still survives and is approximately of it original full height. At both west and east sides of the lime kiln are segmental-headed arched openings with keystones to the two draw holes, and at the northern rear of the lime kiln is a segmental-headed outer arch to a stoke hole which retains the cast-iron surround to a fire grate. A battered charging ramp remains, and has a rubble core with a facing of coursed rock-faced limestone, though some of the facing on the principal south elevation has collapsed. This is keyed into the building near the left hand end. The lime kiln holds three semi-circular arched openings to the south elevation of the ramp, and these were most likely to have been used for storage and shelter. The western end has a passageway with segmental-headed archways at either end, and this provides access to the rear side of the structure. The lower part interior of the lime kiln contains some rubble, but the single-cell, tapering chamber remains complete for most part.[2]

In 2009 the lime kiln was designated at Grade II for a number of principal reasons. The lime kiln remains a well-preserved and distinctive feature of the lime industry and an interesting example of this type of industrial structure. It is an important survival and one of the last vestiges of lime production in Portland, and is of special historic interest for its location and association with the once thriving, internationally significant, Portland quarries. Additionally it represents a significant physical record of the role of convict labour in the industries on the island during the 19th century and the early 20th century.[2] However as of 2014 the lime kiln itself is in need of structural repair to strengthen the remains, and has also been a victim of some minor vandalism. In recent years the lime kiln was fenced off due to instability although by early 2014 this fencing had been pulled down, most likely by vandals.

Other limekilns

The Grove Lime kiln is one of a few remaining lime kilns on the island. A 19th century lime kiln at Easton Lane, within Easton village, became Grade Listed II in November 1984,[6] and lay in ruin for decades, being exposed to weather and vandals. By 2002 this lime kiln was turned into a residence and craft workshop. Opposite this lime kiln is another which is larger and more complete.[5] At New Ground, near the back of the Portland Heights Hotel, another well-preserved lime kiln exists, however by the 1990s it had become overgrown and remains in this state to date, with no signs of the remains through the foliage. Another lime kiln once stood nearby where the hotel now stands.[7] Finally at Avalanche Road, within the Southwell village, remains of another lime kiln, to the east of the road is also covered with overgrowth.[8]


  1. "North of Grove Road, Portland". Retrieved 11 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1393113)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Jackson, Brian L. (1999). Isle of Portland Railways: Volume 1 - The Admiralty and Quarry Railways. Oakwood. ISBN 978-0-853615-40-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Archer, Thomas (1865). The Pauper, the Thief and the Convict. Dodo Press. ISBN 978-1409965688.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "The Grove, Portland, Dorset". 29 June 1993. Retrieved 11 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1281854)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Fortuneswell, Portland, Dorset". 11 November 1926. Retrieved 11 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "685705". Retrieved 11 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


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