Black Nab Alum Quarry – Saltwick Bay

Little remains of Black Nab itself which will be completely lost to the sea at some point.
Black Nab - Saltwick Bay
The site below the cliffs is now heavily eroded and covered but its location can be seen on the first edition OS maps.

The most promenant remains are those of a harbour / breakwater below the actual quarry site, the quarry is thought to have been in use between 1649 and 1791.
Breakwater Saltwick Bay
The highlight is a 1766 datestone which has somehow survived nearly 250 years on the beach.

1766 Datestone Saltwick Bay
In the cliff at this location are the ‘Smugglers Holes’ its not really clear whether these actually relate to smuggling, the alum works or possibly jet mining (although my local expert on that tells me they are in the wrong strata)
Saltwick Bay
Saltwick Bay

Saltwick Bay Alum House

The remains of the alum house can be found at the edge of the beach and are being rapidly lost to erosion, what can be seen now is just the back wall of the structure.
Saltwick Bay Alum House
Saltwick Bay Alum House
Saltwick Bay Alum House
Some remains still exist under the beach itself which were excavated by the Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society. A circular stone cistern also remains just in front of the wall but I don’t have a photo as some holiday makers were using it as a seat at the time.

Saltwick Nab – Alum Quarry

Saltwick Nab was a site of alum quarrying between 1650 and 1791, the red colouring indicates shale has been burned which is part of the alum making process.
Saltwick Nab
Saltwick Nab

An alum house existed in later years, although its though that initially the alum liquor was  taken to South Shields for processing. The remains of a stone ramp exist on the shore, which may have been used to get carts on and off the Nab.
Ramp Saltwick Bay
Ramp Saltwick Bay
Ramp Saltwick Bay

The flat area inland of the Nab has some remains of buildings and wooden pits, although the whole area has been so heavily eroded since it was worked its now difficult to interpret, it is however much more apparent on the first edition OS maps.

Alum House and Cementstone Kiln – Hummersea Steps

The footpath down Hummersea steps cuts right through the remains associated with the Alum House for the Loftus Alum Quarries.

Alum House, Hummersea Steps Alum House, Hummersea Steps Alum House, Hummersea Steps

The remains of the building are fast eroding out of the cliff and will likely be gone within a few years. The largest remaining stucture is thought to be a kiln for cementstone.

Alum House, Hummersea Steps Alum House, Hummersea Steps Alum House, Hummersea Steps

Nothing remains of the three story building with a large chimney which was photographed on the site around 1900, by 1910 it was a complete ruin with only a couple of small wall remnants left.

Loftus Alum Works

Loftus Alum works began operation in the 1650’s and ran until the 1860’s and cover roughly half a mile on a quarried shelf below the cliff. Alum is a mordant for fixing dyes to cloths.

Loftus Alum Quarry Loftus Alum Quarry

The quarrying process has left large sandstone cliffs at the back of the quarries

Loftus Alum Quarry Loftus Alum Quarry

The quarries themselves are still barren with little vegetation ever having returned to the slopes.

Loftus Alum Quarry Loftus Alum Quarry

Loftus Alum Quarry Loftus Alum Quarry

After quarrying the alum shale was burned for many months in large mounds called clamps, a process called calcining. Areas of burned red shale can be seen on the site, although its possible these are from natural fires at a later date rather than clamps.
Loftus Alum Quarry

There are the remains of several steeping pits, where the burnt alum shale would then have placed in water to dissolve the alum salts, these are rapidly nearing the cliff edge and will erode away in a few years time.
Loftus Alum Quarry Loftus Alum Quarry

Carved stone troughs can also be found which would have transported liquids around the site.

Loftus Alum Quarry

The alum liquor would have been transferred into a tank or cistern to allow any particles to settle out, a double walled circular cistern can be still be seen protruding from the edge of the cliff.

Loftus Alum Quarry

The settled liquor would then have been transferred to the Alum House where it was concentrated by evaporation until a specific concentration was reached, said to be the point where an egg would float in it. Akali (usually kelp or urine) was then added and the alum crystals formed as the liquid cooled.

Kettleness Jet Working and Shipwrecks

The whole area around Kettleness is heavily scarred by industry (despite now being very picturesque) there are workings for Jet, Alum, Ironstone and Cementstone all in a small area.

Ironstone was quarried on the foreshore and around the edge of the headland there are many inaccessible jet workings located high in the cliff.

Kettleness Jet Workings Kettleness Jet Workings

Down at sea level there are also numerous jet workings accessible at low tides


Kettleness Jet Workings Kettleness Jet Workings Kettleness Jet Workings

Traces of jet can still be found in the rocks in the area

Kettleness Jet

The headland has also taken victim much shipping over the years, with two wrecks identifyable.

Kettleness Shipwreck Kettleness Shipwreck

Kettleness Shipwreck Kettleness Shipwreck

One may be the Golden Sceptre which ran aground on 16/01/1912

Tunnel under road at Boulby

Although there ironstone workings in the immediate area and this looks like a drift I dont think it is.

Boulby Tunnel under road

I think this is more likely the location where the culvert from the Boulby Alum Works passed underneath the road on its way to the Alum House for processing.

 Boulby Alum House

The house is probably not original, although a wall in the garden at the edge of the cliff looks much older. The vertical shaft from the Boulby Alum Tunnel on the shore would emerge in the garden of this house were it still open.