Site of limekiln, New Quay
A limekiln once stood on the site now occupied by the tourist information centre. Limestone was quarried nearby and dropped into the top of the kiln along with a suitable fuel. Kilns in west Wales usually burned culm, a mixture of coal dust and clay and sometimes woody matter. Balls of culm were also burned in domestic grates in Ceredigion.
As the mixture in the limekiln burned slowly, a white powder – called quicklime or lime – would fall through the grating at the bottom and be raked out through a hole at the base. Lime was spread over fields to improve the soil. It was also a key component of mortar, used to bind stones in buildings.
There were many limekilns along the Cardigan Bay coastline, where the lime could be loaded easily onto boats and small ships for distribution. The kilns fell out of use in the 19th century as railways enabled production to be more centralised, and as other fertilisers and cement took over from lime.
Plans to join New Quay to the rail network were never implemented, but just outside the tourist information centre you can see a short section of iron railway track. This was part of the industrial tramroad to New Quay from quarries at Fron Dolau, north of the town. Prospective contractors were told by the New Quay Harbour Company in 1835 that the contractor chosen to build the stone pier would also be responsible for “quarrying, raising, and carrying all Stone, and finding all Lime, Gravel, Sand and other Materials and Implements”. The harbour company would lay down a railway between the quarries and construction site, a distance of about 600 yards (c.600 metres).
The cast-iron chairs in which the rails sit are bolted to individual stones, rather than the transverse wooden sleepers used on later railways. This primitive method depended on the stones remaining in place, otherwise the gap between the rails could alter and wagons derail.
Postcode: SA45 9NZ