Nine Elms (Cliffe Creek, Francis & Co. Cement Works)
1867 - 1900
The Francis Chalk Quarry in its industrial heyday. The Francis Chamber Kiln is centre, and apparent are the two smaller banks
of chamber kilns which were added between 1897 and 1899 (structures nearest to the camera.) Immediately to the right of the
tallest chimney is the water tank upon the chalk hill. Quarry Cottages are at the extreme right of the picture.
Further downstream from The Pottery, along Cliffe Creek, Francis & Co. established a new cement works in 1867. The previous year Francis & Co negotiated a lease for some 15 acres of land for a tramway and wharf on land between the Creek and the MOD (War Department).
Alfred Francis, the founder of the company, died in 1871 but his sons, Charles Larkin and Alfred, carried on the family connection and continued to produce 'Portland, Roman, Medina, and Parian cement, Portland stucco and Plaster of Paris', also shipping chalk, flints and fire bricks, from the site. In 1881, Alfred Francis, owner of the Nine Elms works across Cliffe Creek, appears to have acquired an acre of land near the old pottery, possibly to establish a public house - he is listed in 1882 as a beer retailer.
The riverside location provided ease of transport and wharves were duly built at the mouth of Cliffe creek. A canal was constructed from the works, which gave its name to a tavern built nearby, now long demolished but remembered as the Canal Tavern.
1870-1 saw further developments to the cement works, which were rebuilt and extended, with an elaborate tramway Methods of extracting the chalk were basic, involving the labourer being suspended by a rope (around his waist) secured at the cliff top, from which position he would hack out the chalk, so that it fell to the ground below to be collected in a waiting railway wagon.
1886 Francis & Co. amalgamated with Johnson Whiting and Empson, Holcombe & Co. to operate under one single ownership as Francis Co. Ltd. At the turn of the century Francis & Co Ltd. joined the Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers (APCM): the forerunner of Blue Circle.
It was at this time that the cement works at Nine Elms started to close down.
During its operation it began with nine bottle kilns to which a further ten were added. The kiln block of 1866-8 can still be seen today together with a grinding mill base a possible prototype for the Johnson chamber kiln.
Cement manufacturing finally ended by 1921 and whiting production by the 1930's.
All that remains of the kiln block as it looks now.
A view of inside the kiln.
The remains of the grinding base. Inside the kiln
Cliffe Quarry (Johnson's Cement Works)
1874 - 1921
Site of Cliffe Quarry Cement Works
The quarry was already in existence for use by the Cliffe Creek Whiting Works and comprised of a range of kilns.
It was owned by I.C. Johnson & Co. between 1874 & 1886 and then by Francis & Co. until the turn of the century. From 1900 to 1921 it was owned by APCM (Blue Circle).
The plant was built to replace the Cliffe Creek site which Johnson sold to Empson, Holcombe and Co.
There were sixteen chamber kilns. During the period 1874-1886, a total of nine Michele chamber kilns were built in the south part of the site, which was owned by Francis. After the rest of the plant was purchased by Francis, a further six kilns were added to the northern block in 1898.
After closure, the whiting plant, on the creek opposite the old works, continued in operation.
Much of the original site was built over by an oil depot.