That part of the kiln forming the outer walls and chimney are, for the purpose of this paper, termed the superstructure. Archaeological evidence for these features is very scarce. There are no known surviving superstructures of kilns built before the nineteenth century. This need not mean, however, that none have survived, as kilns were frequently built into or against other structures. It is probable that fragmentary superstructures are still present, either hidden from view or unrecognised, within existing buildings. Examples of this phenomenon can be seen at Lewes and Broseley.
Further details of nineteenth century kiln superstructures can be gleaned from contemporary planning applications. The Public Health Act of 1848 dealt with the construction of buildings from a public health viewpoint paying particular attention to drainage and sewers. As result of this, plans were to be submitted to local authorities before construction or alteration could take place. These records are a largely untapped source of information concerning premises occupied by tobacco pipe makers. As with many records they are often incomplete or difficult to use. Filing is usually under a street index. The name of the applicant may be that of the pipe maker but more likely that of an agent or architect. In the period covered by this source it is fortunate that there are other means of identifying the sites occupied by pipe makers for it is the site address which provides the key.
If by rare chance an application was made and if the plans are still on file, the rewards in terms of constructional detail and factory layout can be substantial. Three surviving plans for the construction of new premises complete with kilns have so far been located, from Stamford, Nottingham and Newcastle upon Tyne. Although a further record of an application for the construction of a new kiln is known, from Gloucester, unfortunately the plans have been lost.
Photographic material and topograpic prints provide further details of kiln superstructures. These photographs might have been taken while the kiln was still in use, alternatively as a record of an historic industry. Photographs are known of pipe kilns at Rainford, Pontefract, Leeds, Kirkstall, Belfast, Nantgawr and Leith, whilst topographic prints are known from Canterbury.
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Last updated: Wed Oct 9 1996