Ancient Kiln and Tranquil Walks

Article Number Thirteen in Hook History Society’s Lockdown Series.

A few years ago the Hook History Society met the challenge of restoring a tumble down lime kiln in Boggy Lane......the kiln is on land owned by Mr and Mrs Simon Clark. Restoring the kiln to its former glory was a near impossible task but further decline was halted, and this enabled the public to recognise it and from a nearby interpretation panel ascertain how it had functioned in its heyday.

The before picture gives an idea of the task undertaken by the Society members
Picture: The before picture gives an idea of the task undertaken by the Society members.

A successful application was made to the Heritage Lottery fund whose adjudication panel agreed that not only was the restoration of the kiln a good idea the scheme would be enhanced with an interpretation panel; some nearby footpath clearance; and a dvd recording the whole exercise.

The Friends of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park work party spent hours hacking off years of ivy growth, salvaging original stone and generally clearing the site around the kiln.

There was a time when virtually every community on the Cleddau had its kiln built close to a creek were lime barges could sail up on the tide; the crew would throw the limestone overboard to be reclaimed by the kiln workers when the tide receded and then brought by horse and cart to the kiln.

In Pembrokeshire a considerable amount of limestone came from West Williamston and an examination of an OS map still gives an indication of the scale of quarrying in this area and the canals that were dug to allow barges to sail to the heart of the quarries to facilitate the “export” of stone.


In the late 1800’s early 1900’s up to 150 men were employed in the limestone quarry. Apart from the production of lime the Williamston quarry was best known for limestone for the building of such projects as the Pembroke Dock yard and prestigious buildings as far afield as Cornwall and beyond.

In agriculture lime was widely used as a fertiliser to sweeten acidic soil and ensure good crop production. At one time it was a stated requirement in farm leases. By the mid nineteenth century artificial fertilisers were beginning to replace farmyard manure and lime. Imported guano was expensive but after a while bone manures and super-phosphates were generally used.

The Boggy Lane Kiln after a major facelift
Above: The Boggy Lane Kiln after a major facelift.

Lime was also very much in demand as lime mortar for building that is before Portland cement was available. It was also needed for lime wash the original whitewash used to paint stone cottages and farm buildings. It is said that, originally, animal blood was added to add colour to the wash.

Another less publicised use was to dispose of the bodies of executed criminals………………..not that there was much call for this in the village of Hook!!

At kilns such as the one in Boggy Lane it would have taken about sixty hours of burning to complete the process and all the lime produced would have been used on adjoining farms.

In Haverfordwest, however, there were two large commercially operated kilns which operated virtually all year round. They were more or less opposite the County Hotel near the pedestrian fly over. Stories abound of tramps moving into the kiln at night to seek warmth only to succumb to the deadly carbon monoxide fumes that were given off.

In the kiln limestone and culm would be loaded in layers on a tightly packed base of gorse, or furze (as it was then called) which acted as kindling. When fired to a fierce heat the limestone (calcium carbonate) would be converted to quick lime (carbon oxide). This highly corrosive element was raked out of the bottom of the kiln and doused with water which resulted in the valuable agricultural and building product slaked lime (Calcium hydroxide).

The interpretive panel that has been erected alongside the renovated lime kiln
Above: The interpretive panel that has been erected alongside the renovated lime kiln.

As part of the exercise members of the Society, led by Ann Welham, produced a leaflet highlighting walks largely in the vicinity of the kiln.

This should no way detract from the many beautifully scenic walks that weave through the wider Hook area. Armed with a relevant OS map they are there to be enjoyed........but please remember you are probably walking on private property so leave gates and property as you find them. Keep dogs under close control and mind clean up after them.

The dvd of the exercise was filmed by Godfrey Thornberry and written by Richard Howells and copies are readily available.

Map of the paths closely connected to the kiln as in the Lottery funded leaflet and a written description of the route
Above is a map of the paths closely connected to the kiln as in the Lottery funded leaflet and a written description of the route. The research on the footpaths was carried out by Society member, Ann Welham.

FOOTPATH 1 - Leaving the Lime Kiln turn east through the gateway and follow the permissive path bordering the southern edge of the fields leading to the fore shore, where the path turns left towards Fowborough Point (here the western and eastern Cleddau meet to form the Daucleddau). This path follows the foreshore to Underwood and on to Hook Quay to join the bridleway which exits at the Bridge on the New Road.

FOOTPATH 2 - North from the Lime Kiln through Boggy Lane to join Lower Quay Road between Millin Farm and East Hook Farm. Turn south and Boggy Lane emerges at Pill End which is the shoreline conclusion of Pill Road.

FOOTPATH 3 - A short path from Lower Quay Road leading to Underwood and joining Path 1 on the foreshore.

FOOTPATH 4 - From the bottom of Pill Road head west up the road for approx. 100 metres and take the signposted path between two houses. The path clearly signposted crosses the bottom of a garden and into a field. Crosses a footbridge over a stream and at this point splits....Footpath 4 continues while Footpath 5 heads north. 

FOOTPATH 5 - Moves north across scrubland and into fields ascending to give a splendid view of the surrounding countryside. Down from this point the path exits onto Lower Quay Road.

FOOTPATH 4 (continued) - Continue west through the light woodland past “The Commons Pit” (old colliery workings) and through the fields leading to Winder House and at this point the path further divides into Footpaths 6 and 11.

FOOTPATH 6 - Head east from the Winder across two cattle grids turning north towards Landseer House through another gateway and into fields where the path soon splits...FOOTPATH 6 and FOOTPATH 7 - continue on Footpath 6 for a short distance to exit on to Lower Quay Road.

FOOTPATH 7 - Short route through scrub to exit onto Lower Quay Road.

Stalwarts who embarked on the first walk to be organised by the History Society
Pictured above are the stalwarts who embarked on the first walk to be organised by the History Society.

FOOTPATH 4 (cont.) - Continue northwest from the Winder along the ‘Tramway’ to the gateway where an adjoining path (see 8) meets at this point. Go through the gateway and follow the lane to exit at Hook Chapel.

FOOTPATH 8 - East from Tramway cross the field and through the gateway to pass Ark Cottage to exit at Dungeon Hill, Lower Quay Road.

FOOTPATH 9 - At Dungeon Hill take the footpath west down through the SSSI woodland...mainly beech and reach the foreshore near the Ballast Bank at Hook Quay. Here ships unloaded ballast before taking on board a cargo of coal from Hook Colliery.

FOOTPATH 10 - At the ‘Woodside....overlooking the river.... go left pass two bungalows and through a gateway to ‘Teddy Bears’ Lane’ that joins the bridleway that links Hook Bridge with the Quay.

FOOTPATH 11 - At the Winder House head south up the lane to exit at Pill Road.

FOOTPATH 12 - At Pill Road turn left heading south along a short roadway to Sprinkle, crossing a footbridge over a stream. Bear left to skirt the fields ascending to a high point with a scenic view over Hook. Follow on through a lane until the path divides into two. Take the right path to exit onto the Deerland Road next to Llangwm Cemetery.

FOOTPATH 13 - At Pill End walk west up Pill Road and take the footpath on the left opposite the Post Box. Follow the lane past the Water Authority works, over a stream and right along the edge of the fields. The signpost will lead right across the field to exit just above Hook Bridge,

(Richard Howells 2020)