Victorian Powys for primary  schools
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Montgomeryshire Canal
  Delivering lime for the fields  
Drawing by
Rob Davies

The Montgomeryshire Canal was built mainly to help the county's agricultural output by transporting lime for fertilising the land.
The large limestone quarry at Llanymynech was a rich source of the raw material for producing lime for spreading on the fields. There were many brick-built lime burning kilns set into sloping ground alongside the canal, and some can
still be seen along the line of the canal, including those near Llanymynech shown in the photograph below.
The drawing (below right) shows a cutaway view through a typical small canalside limekiln, with limestone and coal being added at the top, and lime being removed inside the small tunnel opening near the canal bank.

There are lots of photographs on Peter Kirkman's
Montgomery Canal website
recording the work to reopen as much of the route as possible for boat traffic.

Limekilns near

Photograph thanks
to Peter Kirkman's

Montgomery Canal

(See top right)

Lime kilns at Llanymynech Cross-section of limekiln
remains on the
Brecon and
Kilns on the Brecon Canal Limestone was broken into lumps with heavy hammers, then mixed with coal and fed into the top of the kilns, which acted like an oven or furnace.
The lime which was produced was removed from an opening at the bottom of the kiln at the back of a short tunnel. Horse drawn carts could then load up with lime for local delivery or for transfer to a canal barge.

The lime in the form in which it came from the kilns could be a dangerous cargo to carry, especially if it came into contact with water (see right). This was why limekilns were built at many places alongside the canal, so that the resulting lime would not have to travel very far either by boat or by wagon.
In 1841, at the start of Queen Victoria's reign, the canal carried almost 58,000 tons of limestone, and there were 92 lime-kilns alongside the canal.

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The burning of the limestone and coal mixture in the kilns produced a type of lime which could be used as a fertiliser. But when this was mixed with water it resulted in a caustic paste which acted like acid, and could cause serious burns.
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