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Cil-yr-ychen Lime Kilns

A Grade II* Listed Building in Llandybie, Carmarthenshire

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Latitude: 51.8323 / 51°49'56"N

Longitude: -4.009 / 4°0'32"W

OS Eastings: 261664

OS Northings: 216761

OS Grid: SN616167

Mapcode National: GBR DV.VQ7K

Mapcode Global: VH4J9.G6GQ

Entry Name: Cil-yr-ychen Lime Kilns

Listing Date: 8 July 1966

Last Amended: 27 August 1999

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 10916

Building Class: Industrial

Location: Prominently sited 200m to the west of Llandeilo Road, about 1½ km north of Llandybie village.

County: Carmarthenshire

Town: Ammanford

Community: Llandybie (Llandybïe)

Community: Llandybie

Locality: Cil-yr-ychen

Traditional County: Carmarthenshire

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Cil-yr-ychen Limekilns, of which the first set was designed in 1857 by their owner, Richard Kyrke Penson, in a Moorish style of architecture. Penson (1816-86) was also Carmarthenshire County Surveyor and a noted church architect, and lived for a time nearby at Cefnceithin, and, from 1871, at his new house at the limeworks, Pant yr Odyn.
The quarry was founded by Penson in 1857 on the basis of a 60 years lease with mineral rights of Dinas, part of the Cil-yr-ychen farm on the Dynefor estate, mainly with the aim of selling stone and lime to the Central Wales Railway. He was, however, an accomplished artist with strong views on industrial architecture, and exhibited the design for his initial set of lime-kilns at the Royal Academy in 1858; the painting ('Limekilns in Carmarthenshire') was still in the Quarry company's offices in the 1980s. The first kiln was lit in June 1857. The cost of construction, by the end of 1858, was nearly £3,500. By 1878 there were four kilns in two 'Moorish' groups plus one freestanding to the north. Later the latter was rebuilt and there were three in addition, bringing the total to eight.
After Penson's death the firm was continued by his widow in partnership with F G Southern. The firm continued to expand until competition with the neighbouring firm at Pentregwenlais led to overproduction; in 1906 the firms merged as Lime Firms Ltd. A three-arch group of two large kilns, of plain design in concrete, was later added at the north end of the group bringing the total to ten. The burning of lime at this site ceased in 1973.


The oldest group is at the left, with battered font wall and a row of 6 large pointed-arch openings at ground level, forming an arcade. Above each arch is a pair of pointed-arched machicolations supporting a projecting brick parapet which is pierced by small quatrefoil openings in line and circle patterns. A crowning cornice has deep indentations in the manner of a corbel table. Set back to the right-hand is a complex part probably altered and architecturally incomplete, also in Moorish style with triple pointed-arched machiolations over the left kiln, a gap, then incomplete triple-arch machicolations over a second kiln, a blank bay with incomplete quadruple machicolations, and finally a third kiln with completed quadruple machicolations. None in this set has a crowning cornice. This probably is the limit of the kilns built by Penson.
In line with the latter group and to the right-hand again is a strongly battered single-arch section of plain design containing three kilns, probably phase three, of the Penson and Southern period, and finally a tall phase four unit of three arches in concrete containing two kilns, probably mid C20, only decorated with a string course at the base of its parapet.
Penson's original kilns are a departure from the universal design of the period, in which access is gained to one or two points at the base of the kiln by means of tunnel-like working arches. Penson's kilns are arranged on a principle of all-round access, like industrial corn drying kilns; in the six-arched first set there are only two kilns, but they are each dischargeable at three points. (The design is more radical than the industrial kilns at Penally near Tenby). Kilns nos. 3, 4 and 5, however, in the second set are conventional single access kilns. Kilns 6, 7 and 8 in the very battered structure are single access, but the last two in the concrete structure are dual access.

Reasons for Listing

Listed at II* as a set of kilns by R K Penson, architect; an experiment both in technical kiln design and in the cause of reforming industrial architecture; with later additions to the set showing the development of kiln design into the C20; in all a remarkabe large-scale limeworks.

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