SOUTH HEIGHTON CEMENT WORKS

Photo:Cement Works - c1910

Cement Works - c1910

Sussex Express Article - December 2010

By OurNewhaven

What is now a peaceful retreat set in an area of trees and calm lakes was once a busy and vibrant factory sending out a product used throughout the country. Where is this you may ask. The answer is the small secluded caravan site at South Heighton hidden in what was once a large chalk quarry.

The quarry and cement works was operated by British Portland Cement and contained a small 2 foot gauge railway within the works complex on which small wagons were used to transport the quarried chalk around the site. There was also an extensive full size railway system throughout the pit and the works had it’s own steam engine used for shunting wagons within the factory complex. These railway tracks left the works, crossed what is now the main A26 road and then continued across the fields to run parallel to, and then join, the main railway tracks just to the north of Newhaven town station. However the works locomotive was not allowed beyond the boundary of the road and all movements of wagons from the quarry to the main lines, was carried out by the L,B & S C R thus allowing the manufactured cement to be transported throughout the country. The quarry was used by the Military in WW1 for Munitions, while in WW2 it is known that the Local Home Guard used the site for training purposes.

Reputedly the most well-known structure in which this locally produced cement was used, is the Railway Viaduct over the River Tamar at Calstock in Cornwall. Built of concrete blocks using the Sussex produced cement, this a single track viaduct has twelve 60 ft. spans and a height of about 120 ft. It also had an unusual feature which was a wagon lift on a siding alongside the viaduct which until the mid 1930’s was used to enable wagons to be lowered to reach the wharf below. The viaduct itself is now a listed Grade II structure which is still in use.

 

This page was added by Laurie Stonehouse on 30/01/2011.

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