Betchworth

 

Fort Road

Betchworth Fort Situated at the top of the Downs above Brockham Limeworks, access from Fort Road. The fort, cottage and land were sold back to Deepdene Estates by the government around 1909 and the fort buildings were lived in at least from 1921, when Deepdene Estates sold the property, until 1983. The caretaker's cottage has always been inhabited but the fort is now a store. The boundaries of the property were indicated by stone markers inscribed WD and some of these remain. The fort is similar to that at Box Hill, with metal shutters and doors still in place.

The Coombe

Cottages built for the limeworks staff - New Cottages, Coombe Cottages and Western Cottages.

The Quarry

Betchworth Limeworks.  Although chalk quarrying had been carried on here for years it was not until 1865 that large-scale lime manufacturing started with the 6 incorporation of the Dorking Greystone Lime Company Ltd; the peak of production taking place between 1920 and 1940.  The name 'Dorking' was included in the company name to take advantage of the reputation of the lime from the earlier Dorking limeworks.  The first Hoffman kiln, which burned lime in a continuous cycle, was erected here in 1865 and operated until 1904.  A second one was built in 1867 and used until 1901.  In 1867 the six conical flare kilns of the southern battery were built, followed in 1872 by another six in the eastern battery.  These were later converted to Bishop's patent 'Brockham' type in the 1920s and 1930s.  In 1887 two of the original flare kilns were replaced by a pair of Dietzsch kilns which had been modified from the design for cement making; ten years later a second pair were similarly converted.  When a demand for white lime for gas purification arose at the turn of the century, a new face was opened above, and to the west of, the main pit.  An overhead cableway was installed to operate via pylons to the gantry between the Dietzsch kilns in the south battery.  This was in use from 1901 until 1910 operated first by a 4hp Priestman paraffin engine and later by a 7hp petrol engine of the same make.  The Dietzsch kilns were last used in 1934, after which production took place in the eastern battery of kilns, most of which was upgraded during the 1950s and 1960s.  The tall brick-built Smidth kiln, built adjacent to the No 2 Hoffman kiln at the beginning of the 20th century has never been fired.  It was an experimental modification to the Dietzsch kiln; it is thought that this was never used due to the sudden cessation in the demand for white lime for gasworks when it was superseded by iron oxide.  The main pit is now being used as a landfill site and it will be graded and restored for grazing. These engines and quarries were used for an episode of the TV serial Doctor Who to give an appropriate nightmarish touch!

Railways at Betchworth.  The South Eastern Railway came to Betchworth in 1847; when the Dorking Greystone Lime Company was formed twenty years later, a siding was laid into the limeworks.  Initially the system was horse-operated but from 1871 locomotives were used and the third standard gauge locomotive on the site worked there until 1960.  An extensive narrow gauge system of both 3ft 2in and 2ft 0in gauge was used to transport chalk to the kilns.  There were three locomotives of the former gauge and one of the latter, all of which are now at Amberley Museum.

Betchworth Hearthstone Mines. These mines, to the east of the limeworks kiln area, operated from the 1870s until 1950.  A 1ft 7in gauge railway line connected the mines to the standard gauge siding.  The wagons were hauled up the steep slope out of the mine using a stationary engine.  The building in which hearthstone was ground survives at the south of the site, behind the station.

Workers' Housing And Buildings. Workers' houses as well as some of the works buildings, including stables, still stand on the site

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