All that remains of Sandsend Alum House is one wall which is now the entrance and exit to a car park which was built in the 1960s when the sea wall damaged.
It is believed to have operated between 1733 and 1860 although building were still standing on the site in more recent time
The footpath down Hummersea steps cuts right through the remains associated with the Alum House for the Loftus Alum Quarries.
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.
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 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.
The quarrying process has left large sandstone cliffs at the back of the quarries
The quarries themselves are still barren with little vegetation ever having returned to the slopes.
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.
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.
Carved stone troughs can also be found which would have transported liquids around the site.
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.
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.
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.
Down at sea level there are also numerous jet workings accessible at low tides
Traces of jet can still be found in the rocks in the area
The headland has also taken victim much shipping over the years, with two wrecks identifyable.
One may be the Golden Sceptre which ran aground on 16/01/1912
Rock Hole Alum Quarry was started by John Atherton of Skelton Castle in 1604 and was the earliest in the district and the first success works in the whole country.
Despite being idle from hundreds of years, little vegetation ever grows back.
Although there ironstone workings in the immediate area and this looks like a drift I dont think it is.
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.
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.