Norton Limekilns

by Marion Garnett

Coltshill Quarry overlooking Mumbles, c1912

The top of the limekiln mentioned in the following story, is on the right of the figure 364 in the picture

As a child in the 1940s I lived right opposite the limekilns at 91 Castle Road, which was the first semi-detached house, next to the two detaches ones near the school. (Marked with an arrow on the map below).

The limekiln was a hive of activity. Early in the dark winter mornings I would hear a lorry trundling along the road and reversing in to the limekilns ready to be filled with limestone.

Through my bedroom window at 6.30am in the dark, I could just see the red and orange glow from the kiln where the lime came down. Next would come the rumbling noise of the limestone coming down through the kiln.

Soon after this photo was taken in 2011, the structure was declared unsafe and the stonework facing removed, as pictured below.

Photo: Coltshill Limekiln

The two limekiln workers, one was the lorry driver, would set about filling the wheelbarrows with limestone. They would take it in turns to fill and empty their loads into the back of the lorry until it was full. This would take about half an hour and then the driver would take it away. About twenty minutes later another lorry would arrive, and the busy men would start again.The inlet where the lorries used to reverse in and out, was quite a wide area, which kept the working well of the road. When it was open in the day-time, I could see right through to the back. It was a very dark place inside, as there was no natural light and no electric light either.There was quite a lot of white, powdery dust created which sometimes blew on the nearby houses. When we came home from school in the afternoon, the double gates were closed and locked and everywhere had been swept clean, it looked as if nothing had been going on all day - but I knew differently.

In the evening a night watchman came on duty to make sure that everywhere was kept safe. He stood high up looking over the steep wall of the limekilns. It really looked as if he was guarding the whole of Mumbles, even the Castle as he was so high up. It gave us a feeling of being safe.

The safety work is viewed by residents standing outside 91 Castle Road

1947 OS Map of Mumbles including Castle Road

I never remember the other limekilns off Limekiln Road working (see photo) as by that time they were overgrown with brambles. As children, we would take a short cut off Limekiln Road on to the path where they were, to cut the corner off and run down to Castle Road.

Like Marion, everyone has a story to tell. What do you remember?

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