Riddels Kiln during a firing

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Bruce Comfort on January 27, 2012

This wonderful photograph (courtesy Helen Fluit who lived just across the road from the kiln relics for many years) shows the kiln during a firing. Much can be discerned even from this poor picture. The quarry is quite small compared to its size today so the photo will have been taken early in the kiln's productive life. It ceased operation in about 1938. The "wing walls" which, by their extant condition might be supposed to be remnants of a larger supporting stonework structure, are clearly all that was ever built, leaving the question of what the extended quoin blocks were ever for? The lime burner's hut "cottage" up above the roof of the unloading/sorting shed is either gone or not yet occupied. It is hard to imagine the fireplace and floor joist sockets having been created after the main stonework was built so the conclusion might have to be that it (the hut)had been abandoned for space in the sheds at the quarry face. The kiln (furnace) mouth has no flat land around it (see picture) and as this would have been a problem during operation, that is cleared up by this photo which shows a wooden (circular) platform around the furnace mouth propped off the stonework below. The unloading and sorting shed is connected by a branched and partly elevated tramway to a covered bay where the clinker was loaded onto wagons for the 800 metre uphill trip to the crusher on Highcliff Road. Railway irons are apparently still visible in the soil and the stonework for the loading bay is pictured and still in good condition. The large sheds at the quarry have no clear function. Such sheds are never usually seen at a quarry but one may have been for a breaker to size the limestone. Given that this kiln produced hydraulic lime (effectively a "cement mortar" that would harden in the presence of water) one shed at least might have been used for sorting batches of raw materials - a batch needing both siltstone and limestone as well as fuel. Helen Fluit advises that coal was the fuel - carted in as back load from Dunedin when burnt lime was delivered to town. And, apparently, the main use for the finished production of this kiln was the mortaring of foundation stones for many of Dunedin's large buildings where the water-table was so high that the ground was permanently damp. That makes a lot of sense. Helen Fluit's husband Con was an amateur historian of the lime kilns and he gathered a lot of information about the kilns (of which there are three and a small prototype/test batch kiln) in the Sandymout gully.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on January 19, 2012
  • Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works
    by Bruce Comfort