Saltburn Alum Works

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Very little information exists on the Saltburn Alum works which operated 1670-1695 and 1765-1775.
Saltburn Alum Works
The semi-circular sandstone structure with a water-tight clay lining that is currently eroding out of the cliff strongly resembles a cistern for alum liquor such as those seen at well known alum working sites such as Boulby and Loftus.
Boulby Alum Works CisternLoftus Alum Quarry

Much timber and brickwork is also present, suggesting there was a building adjacent and perhaps even steeping pits.
Saltburn Alum Works
Saltburn Alum Works

The site is gradually being destroyed by erosion as a central wooden post was originally visible in the cistern.

Update 2013 : Sadly the remains of the stone cistern were completely destroyed by the storm surge on 5th December 2013 (photo by Simon Chapman)


11 thoughts on “Saltburn Alum Works

    • The gap between the two sets of blocks in the small picture at Loftus ?

      It would have been full of clay to make the cistern water-tight, its just got washed out over the years.

      Its still there in the one thats coming out of the cliff now, theres no outer bricks on that one as they have dug it directly into the surrounding rock.

  1. There are a couple of drift mines in Tommy Nook wood. I remember going into them in my early teens (early 70’s), they were quite unstable as they’re in Alum shale so we only went in abot 40-50 feet. The entrances were almost filled we had to crawl in there on our stomachs for about 10 feet, once past that they opened out there were the remains of wooden props set at regular intervals.
    These could have possibly been connected with supplying some of the Alum to the kiln at the base of Huntcliffe.

    • Thanks I suppose they could be ironstone drifts or even to provide mine drainage given very close proximity of the drifts to Millholme beck but they were dry with no brickwork as found in the Rigg woods drift just timber supports.
      Looking at the workings they’re not connected to the Longacres mine as they’re running in the opposite direction toward Warsett.
      Looking at the Map in earth view there’s something that’s been happening in two distinct areas very close where the drifts are.
      From what I can remember there’s a lot of shale on the surface around there.
      I’ve got an old map somewhere will have to dig it out if I remember correctly there’s something marked on there that’s why we ventured up there to find out what we could find.

  2. How far towards Saltburn are they? There was Morrisons Mine on Coach Road at Brotton ran out towards the woods as did Cliffe Pit which was further round Warsett Hill.

  3. Along the beach yesterday. Not much left, a lot has washed out over the winter. Further along I notice another ‘platform’ cut in to the cliff that seems to be becoming visible as the loose stuff on top is washed out. Is this part of the ALum works or a remnant of Ironstone working I wonder?

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