Photographer's Note

This was taken on the same day as all the Robin Hood’s Bay shots. We had driven to Ravenscar about 10 miles north of Scarborough and then walked along the old disused railway line and back along the cliffs. We came across the ruins of the Peak Alum Works. It was a bit disconcerting to see a notice telling us to take care, as the ruins were home to a colony of adders; we didn’t see any.
It was quite a big works for its time, employing about 150 men. Alum production took place here from 1650 to 1860. It was situated here, as behind in the hillside, is where the alum shale was quarried. I have put a view facing the other way in the WS.
Alum is a crystal, containing aluminium sulphate. It was ground into “flour” to be used as a fixing agent in the textile dyeing industry and as a preservative for tanning leather.
In the 17th and 18th centuries there were over 30 alum producing sites in North Yorkshire; Britain’s first chemical industry. By 1780 5,000 tons of alum were being produced; 10% of that at these works here. A by-product of alum production was Epsom salts used in medicines.

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Additional Photos by Kath Featherstone (feather) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7646 W: 399 N: 14391] (51130)
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