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Author Topic: Horrid Hill & Sharps Green Cement Works  (Read 21101 times)

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Re: Horrid Hill & Sharps Green Cement Works
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2010, 23:32:15 »
Hi all.

This place one of my old playgrounds when younger!

Seem to remember from another web-site that a ship full of marmalde jars broke up nearby in 1913?. When I was a kid in the early 80's, on some of the pottery bits, the word marmalde was readable.

Take care.


Offline karlostg

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Re: Horrid Hill & Sharps Green Cement Works
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2010, 09:24:24 »
Nice pics Leofwine, I used to investigate those remains on a regular basis (it was part of my cycle route) -maybe the pottery remains are from the London dumping ground just further up the river at Lower Halstow (Bottle beach)

Offline Tom Burnham

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Re: Horrid Hill & Sharps Green Cement Works
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2010, 22:23:57 »
Thanks, I found that interesting, being a one-time cement industry employee.  I'll have to explore the site sometime.

The Queenborough cement works didn't last long after 1910.  They were merged into British Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd. (the second phase of the 'Combine') and closed pretty soon afterwards.

Tom Burnham, Staplehurst

Offline Leofwine

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Horrid Hill & Sharps Green Cement Works
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2010, 21:42:20 »
I was visiting Riverside Park today and wandered out to Horrid Hill with my camera to get some photos of the remains of buildings out there. As a kid I always imagined they were the remains of some king of fort or gun emplacement (or something equally exciting!)  I now know they were part of a short lived cement works. As well as the photos I managed to gather some information about the works from various notices in the visitor's centre and around the park:

In 1902 this was the smallest of many cement works that lined the shore of the Medway estuary. The location of the works provided docks for export of cement and for the landing of clay, one of the two main ingredients for the production of cement. The second ingredient, chalk, came by narrow guage rail track from nearby Twydall chalk pit.

Clay, used in the production of cement, was taken from the salt marsh islands of the estuary. In the early days this was dug out by hand. Barges would draw alongside of the island and as the tide ebbed the "muddies" would start digging and continue until the tide returned.

At the end of the 1890s, Joseph Wilders and Francis Joseph Carey were searching for a suitable site to build a cement works. The works would need to be near to the materials to make cement, therefore a riverside location was needed to acquire both the clay and the chalk. An agreement was made with Alfred Castle to allow the construction of a cement works on the eastern side of the peninsula.

From the 1860s Alfred Castle used to more his vessels at Sharp's Green, next to Horrid Hill, to collect chalk from Twydall chalk pit before going on to his two cement works at Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey. The chalk was transported in a fleet of seven barges owned by Alfred and his brother James, whose Queenborough cement works produced up to 400 tons of cement a week.

The chalk was carted to the barges on a track that led from the quarry to Sharps Green Bay (you can still see the remains of the staiths or mooring posts where barges would have moored up to load.) The loading could only be done at low tide as the draft of the vessel would require more water under the keel to float off.

Due to tidal constraints and the way the barges were loaded by hand, Castle built a wooden jetty further down the channel leading to the peninsula. This was far better, as it allowed loading of the barges to continue whatever the state of the tide.

To improve the speed at which the chalk was being loaded into the barges, Castle built a narrow guage railway from the quarry to the new wooden jetty. Side tipping railway carts were used on the railway so they could be loaded quickly onto the barges.

Wilders and Carey's new cement works required some land reclamation by constructed an extension to Castle's existing causeway, and extending the railway out to the works on to the island now known as Horrid Hill.  A timber and concrete wharf was also built to enable barges to unload coke and clay. (The residue of the coke can still be seen on the concrete part of the wharf.)

When the wharf was fully operational (c.1895) Carey and Wilders employed a number of men on a shift system. It was a very bleak place to work, especially during the winter months, a 'horrid' place to work. (A possible explanation of the name 'Horrid Hill'?)

The cement works were closed around 1910 although chalk was still being collected from the local quarry to supply the Queenborough cement works after the closure.

Various remains of the old timber jetty and cement works can still be seen today. A double line of wooden posts can be seen on the eastern side of the causeway - the remains of the railway jetty used to load the barges. Out on Horrid Hill are the remains of the congrete wharf, and in the mud either side are the remains of the old wooden extensions. There are also remains of a number of brick and concrete structures scattered about the island. On the eastern edge of the concrete wharf the outline of the railway track running close to the edge is still visible.

Horrid Hill viewed from the riverbank looking north, showing the tidal mudflatats.  The causeway can be seen running from left to right.

The concrete causeway leading out to the old jetty.

Remains of the old jetty on the eastern side (with the wreck of the tug "Waterloo")

The concrete jetty on the eastern end of the island. The coke stains can still be seen on the jetty in the foreground of the second picture.

Various brick and concrete structures on the south-east and southern side of the island

South of these structures the shore is littered with bricks. I am not sure if they are washed out from the previous structures or represent a collapsed structure at their location

The south west corner of the island has some strange cement structures/cave

Various other remains of walls and structures on the island

Grafitti or something else?  Seems to be an old brick with writing on it

Hidden in the bushes that now cover most of the island I found this concrete structure. Storage tank maybe?

On the north side of the island there are masses of old pottery remains scattered all over the shoreline (1000s od fragments).  I don't know if they are associated with the cement works or washed up from somewhere else. As a kid I do remember finding a couple of late Victorian pottery inkwells here, but I have no idea where they are now.

Does anyone happen to have any old pictures of the cement works in operation?

(Larger versions of the pictures at

Brompton History Research Group


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