Panel H – Limestone, Lime and Limesheds

The purpose of burning (or calcining) limestone was to convert it from calcium carbonate to calcium oxide, better known as burnt (or quick) lime. This was then transported by boat to its final point of use where it was slaked by the careful addition of water to produce calcium hydroxide, better known as slaked (or hydrated) lime. This product could then be used for a variety of purposes including soil conditioning and the manufacture of mortar for building purposes. However, burnt lime is unstable and it must be kept completely dry in order to prevent accidental slaking. Five limesheds were eventually built at Bugsworth Basin for the specific purpose of keeping it dry while it was being loaded into boats.

This view above shows the Limeshed straddling the Middle Basin Arm. Burnt lime from the New Road kilns was here loaded under cover into the waiting boats. The burnt lime was barrowed across the Blackbrook over three wooden bridges. The Middle Basin Arm was once known as Mr Satterfield's Branch.

The Middle Basin (or New Road) Limeshed was 71 feet long and could house two narrowboats which were normally reversed in. After lime production ceased the limeshed was adapted to other uses and the various openings were walled up. To the right of the shed, the attached workman's bothy with its chimney is just visible. The shorter boy on the right is Jess Hill. His companion is Sid Bennett, thought to be the son of the formidable Bob Bennett. Bob, as canal lengthman for Bugsworth Basin, was famous for applying a rope's end to any young citizens he caught "messing around" the canal.

Looking across the mouth of the Middle Basin Arm, with moored boat, towards Silk Hill bridge and the Upper Basin beyond. The former limeshed on the right has been fitted with secure gates indicating a change of use perhaps as a warehouse. This shed was 51 feet long, built of gritstone and a dual pitched Welsh slate roof. Note the neatly-stacked stone on the tippler wharf.

This cast-iron nameplate was recovered from the Middle Basin Arm at Bugsworth Basin during restoration work in the mid-1970s. It had once been fixed to the wall of the lime shed across the head of this arm and it fell into the canal when the building was demolished. This lime shed was built for the purpose of loading boats with burnt lime from the New Road kilns. Robert Satterfield described himself as a 'lime burner, brick maker, coal and slate dealer' and in 1862 he had premises on the London Road Wharf of the Rochdale Canal, Ducie Street, Manchester.