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Walkerville Lime Kilns




Examine the remains of the Walkerville Lime Kilns. The lime kilns operated from 1875 to 1926 and provided lime supplies to Melbourne's building industry.

A short walk along the beach at Walkerville rings you unexpectedly upon giant brick buttresses protruding from the cliffs like the ruins of some ancient Roman engineering works. These are all that remain of the Walkerville lime kilns. At the peak of production in the 1890s, up to eighty men were employed quarrying limestone, working the kilns, supplying timber and bagging and stacking lime. Limestone mined from the cliffs was burnt with firewood in brick lined kilns to produce quick lime. The lime was then bagged and hauled in tram carts along a 350 metre jetty which once stretched out into the bay to waiting ships. The kilns were closed in 1926 due to reduced demand, high transport costs and the replacement of quicklime by cement.

The Walkerville lime kilns are historically significant in that they provide evidence of the largest and longest lived commercial lime burning sites in Victoria. Six kilns (numbered 1-6 from south to north) were constructed at Walkerville. Each kiln was about 40 feet deep, brick lined and tapering to a narrow neck at the base, where a grate opened into the back of a large shed. The kilns were built separately, some distance apart, faced with local stone (granite and basalt) and each had its own storage and packing shed. The shafts were supported by a high vertical stone wall across the front, which itself was supported by two long retaining walls extending outward at an angle from each end of the vertical rear wall. At the base of the vertical facade is a brick-lined arched chamber or vault, 2. 5 m wide, 2 m deep and at least 2 m high leading to a small semicircular draw hole in the rear wall, through which the burned lime could be extracted from the shaft. The rear wall of the vault, above the draw hole is corbelled outward to accommodate the widening diameter of the shaft behind it. The corbelled brick courses are strengthened by three horizontal iron tie-beams. Socket holes for wooden beams can be seen in the inside faces of both retaining walls, which also bear traces of the line of a sloping roof over the area between the retaining walls.

The Kilns Today- Today the remains of the six kilns at Walkerville are still discernable, but in different states of intactness. None of the kilns retain any structural remains of the front bagging areas. Parts of kiln 5 were reconstructed in 1992. A retaining wall protects the area in front of the kiln and the working area has been resurfaced with concrete. The major part of the external structure of kiln 6 has collapsed, revealing the brick internal lining of the shaft. Bricks were brought in by ship although some doubt exists as to their origin. The absence of suitable clay deposits nearby would tend to rule out local manufacture. But some bricks have been salvaged from the kilns with the markings W. B. embossed on them, possibly denoting that they were made at a small kiln at Waratah Bay. A blacksmiths forge, stables for the horses and storage sheds for the lime were situated adjacent to the kilns.

Map: X928 Ref: B10

Web Links


Link Heritage story - Taking out the limestone - Walkerville (PDF)



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