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PLEASINGTON ALUM WORKS

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The remains of the alum quarries and associated features at Pleasington alum works, which is located in woodland to the south of Alum House Brook. Alum was first quarried at Pleasington in 1609 when the landowner, Sir Richard Hoghton, employed the German mining engineer Anthony Snyder to commence operations. By the end of the year only some five to seven tons of alum had been produced but its limited transport costs to the nearby tawers and dryers of Bolton, Wigan and Coppull led to a rapid increase in demand, and by 1614 Sir Richard was granted the privilege of making alum for 21 years of exporting 500 tons a year. Three years later, whilst visiting Sir Richard's home at Hoghton Tower, King James I took the opportunity to view the alum mines. Although the precise date when alum manufacture ceased at Pleasington is unknown, reference to alum workers in the Blackburn parish registers in 1771 indicates that the site must have continued production towards the end of the 18th century. The main surviving quarry was cut into the north face of Alum Crag creating a working face about 260 metres long and 35 metres deep. The quarry floor at the foot of the face is divided into two by a large spoil tip. The quarry floor is now boggy but is considered to contain the buried remains of the calcination process and the steeping pits. Although no surface evidence can be seen, buried remains of an alum house are expected to survive. On the high ground to the west of the main quarry are a series of hollows indicating the site of early test pits and a short distance to the north west of these is a smaller quarry face and working floor. To the north of the quarries there is an access roadway and a large complex series of spoil tips and tip runs consisting of both quarry waste and spent shale discarded after the steeping process. This site is scheduled.

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