TG2407 : The Deal Ground - the old bottle oven

taken 7 years ago, near to Trowse Newton, Norfolk, Great Britain

The Deal Ground - the old bottle oven
The Deal Ground - the old bottle oven, taken 7 years ago
Bottle ovens were so called because of their shape: they look like big bottles made of brick. The neck of the “bottle” could be up to 20 metres high. It is open at the top to take away the smoke that was created by a draught to keep the fire hot and it also protected the oven from the weather. These unique structures are an important part of England’s industrial heritage and it is believed that only 47 are still standing today. Bottle ovens were coal-fired and mainly used in the firing of pottery.

This Grade II-listed bottle kiln is built from red brick with blue engineering brick dressings. It has a circular plan with short porchway to the firing/loading doorway. The kiln has a bottle-shaped profile and the porchway has a semi-circular tunnel-vaulted ceiling and a metal top-hung sliding door. There are four circular open vent holes and three rectangular vents. The kiln interior has a cavity-wall construction for ventilation. The inner skin rises to a height of 2.95 metres and is constructed in bricks from Stourbridge made by EJ and JP Pearson Ltd. This firm was incorporated as a limited company in 1898 and was active in the production of these products until 1916. This kiln is a rare and possibly unique survivor in Norfolk.
The Deal Ground
The Deal Ground and Utilities sites are 30 hectares of brownfield land which is largely vacant, situated in a gateway location on the eastern edge of Norwich. Some of the problems of redeveloping the site are contamination, access limitations and the risk of flooding. However, Norwich City Council has recently joined forces with Broadland, South Norfolk and the Broads Authority, and a group called the Greater Norwich Development Partnership has been formed in order to devise a plan which is aimed at creating hundreds of new homes and a network of foot and cycle paths, and new bridges that are to link the city to Whitlingham and beyond. Hopes are high that this new masterplan can be completed in 2010.

The Deal Ground once used to form a very busy part of the Colman enterprise, see LinkExternal link and LinkExternal link. The name of the site is derived from the part of Colman's works where crates and barrels were built from 'deal' (softwood) imported from the Baltic to Yarmouth and brought up the River Yare by wherry to a wharf opposite Whitlingham. There also was a bottle oven (for drying timber) and a print works (for printing labels) the latter occupying the western section of the site adjoining the railway line. A (disused) tunnel under the railway line linked the Deal Ground to the main factory, the Carrow Works, on the other side.

For many years now the Deal Ground has been a rather mysterious, inaccessible and deserted corner of the Trowse Triangle, an area on the southeastern fringe of Norwich where the valleys of the rivers Yare and Wensum meet. Bordered by the two rivers in the north and east, and by the railway line in the west, the Deal Ground remains largely unknown and unnoticed despite its close proximity to the city centre. The only active occupant of this 'island' for the past 15 years has been the Carrow Yacht Club, located at the northeastern tip, the Trowse Eye. The club was founded by Colman employees. A narrow access lane leads to it - and through the Deal Ground. Locked gates, however, block access for anybody who is not a yacht club member. The Deal Ground has not been occupied or used since Colman's merge with Unilever in 1995 and has consequently turned into an empty wasteland (a so-called brownfield area). Nothing much on the site has survived.

The small wooden policeman's hut by the works entrance is still in place. Further along the road there is what appears to be a small pump house. The concrete surface of the extensive concrete hardstandings is cracked and overgrown with moss, and weeds are growing in the cracks. The area adjoining the Wensum is prone to flooding. Of all the industrial buildings that once used to stand on the site only one has survived, albeit in a very dilapidated condition. It is adjoined by a large heap of old brick rubble, the remains of other buildings that were pulled down at some time. The large Victorian kiln still stands, adorned with shrubs sprouting on the upper section of the brick tower. In later years it was used to dry green wood so that it could be used immediately for making barrels which contained fruit juice. This was after the firm took over rival mustard maker Keen Robinson & Company through which it also acquired the Robinsons Lemon Barley Water brand and baby food business. Barrels and timber were stored adjacent to the kiln in an area that is now a wilderness of weeds, shrubs and mature trees. The tunnel under the railway which linked the Deal Ground with the main works is waterlogged but still there, complete with the old speed restriction warning above the entrance. Sounds from the city traffic and the even closer railway line echo across this empty space where nothing stirs. If the redevelopment goes ahead as planned the site will be brought back to life once again. It will also be completely transformed and no longer recognisable as the place it has been for many years.
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Evelyn Simak and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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TG2407, 290 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Saturday, 23 January, 2010   (more nearby)
Sunday, 24 January, 2010
Bottle kiln   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 247 074 [100m precision]
WGS84: 52:37.0708N 1:19.0764E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 247 074
View Direction
Southwest (about 225 degrees)
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