Today Foulridge Wharf is a picturesque stretch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. You can go on a canal boat cruise, have a drink and meal or just wander up the towpath, taking in the historical sites. Of particular interest are the restored lime kiln and the large canal side warehouse, which is now a café bar.
The lime kiln dates from the opening of the Leeds and Liverpool canal, being built sometime between 1790 to 1796. Limestone was needed in great quantities to produce lime mortar required for the canal building project. The mortar was used in the construction of all the bridges, locks, tunnels, resevoirs, walls and even the clay lining at the bottom of the canal. The kiln we see today was one of two, each one built either side of Foulridge Tunnel. It is a ‘draw kiln’. This type had coal and limestone added in alternate layers, put in through the top of the kiln, before the kiln was lit. The product- the burnt lime, would be drawn out through the support bars at the bottom of the kiln.
The limestone rock for the kiln was sourced from three different locations. At first it came by Galloway pack ponies from Lothersdale via Black Lane Ends. The packhorse track at Tubber Hill also brought limestone in from Skipton and the wider Craven area. Bringing coal to the site offered similar difficulties, the nearest supply being at Marsden near Nelson. Carthorses would only have been able to bring in a ton of coal each day, with a poorly surfaced steep route to cover.
The opening of the canal changed all of this. Rainhall quarry near Barnoldswick had a purpose built canal branch, enabling the limestone to be taken directly from the quarry to the kiln by barge. Coal could now be brought in via the canal from Burnley. The canal led to a boom in the local economy and so the demand for lime increased. As well as for mortar it was used for making plaster and bright lime-wash for buildings and to neutralize acidic farmland soils. This particular kiln operated for over 60 years.
In 1815 the wharf and warehouse were built. Cotton from America would be brought into to the North West via Liverpool docks. Canal barges from Liverpool would carry the cotton to Foulridge, where it was unloaded and stored in the warehouse, for redistribution to the local cotton mills. Canal horses, used to pull the boats were also stabled at the wharf. Later, when steam powered barges plied the route to Liverpool, horses were still used to take goods onward out to Yorkshire. A canal company man called a ‘horse marine’ would lead a horse and barge eastwards for the rest of the cargo’s journey.
Today the warehouse has been converted into Café Cargo, a café and restaurant and is open every day from 9am to 9pm. Much of the architecture and fittings have been conserved, and you can admire both while you eat and drink there. Visit Café Cargo’s website by clicking here . This is an excellent use of a historical building, and one that will hopefully continue its preservation into the future. The wharf is still used for mooring up of narrow boats and has shower and toilet facilities for their owners. If you fancy a canal trip yourself, Foulridge Canal Cruises sail the Marton Emperor narrow boat from the wharf and details can be found by clicking here .
Nearby, just a few minutes away on foot: Tailor’s Cross and Low Well
The Lime Kiln at Foulridge Wharf– on site interpretation board. This blog post has heavily drawn from the information displayed. (No author or publisher is displayed on the board- presumably it was commissioned by Lancashire County Council).
Canal and Rivers Trust Website, https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/directory/45/foulridge-tunnel (accessed 12/9/14)
Foulridge Parish Council website http://www.foulridgeparishcouncil.org.uk/history/(accessed 12/9/14)