The Lime Kilns & Charlestown Harbour ...


Charlestown was a planned village created by Charles Bruce the 5th Earl of Elgin, (descendant of King Robert The Bruce) in the 1750s. Not only did he give it his name, he also gave it his initials. The original layout of the village, still visible, is in the form of the letters "CE", from his formal title of Charles Elgin.

This was all part of Charles' grand design to make most effective use of his estate's main assets: the coal and the limestone that lay under it. Lime had been processed at neighbouring Limekilns for centuries, but what Charles Elgin built at Charlestown was on a truly industrial scale.

The fourteen massive lime kilns built of dressed-sandstone are a remarkable feature of Charlestown. They are regarded as one of the most important Industrial Revolution remains in Scotland and indeed the United Kingdom, being Scottish Category A Listed buildings. Built into the hillside below the village, they form a stone façade 110 metres long by 10 metres high. They are in a generally stable state of preservation with many features relating to the operation of the kilns still in situ. Most of the kilns were re-faced, probably in the C19.

The kilns were built by Charles Bruce, 5th Earl of Elgin, in the late C18, building dates quoted vary, but Pevsner states that the first nine were built 1777 to 1778 and the last five in 1792. They were the largest group of lime kilns in Scotland, producing a third of all lime production, and were particularly important to agriculture for soil improvement but also for building work to produce mortar, plaster and other lime based products.

The adjacent harbour was also built by the Earl and used for transporting the lime products, limestone and importantly coal. The operation ran down from the 1930s and finally closed in 1956. The site is owned by the Broomhall Estate.

History in Charlestown

Pictures throughout the ages of Charlestown ...

Charlestown Lime Kilns

Charlestown Limestone Mines

Forgotten Railway Bridge

Old Charlestown Harbour

Old Elgin Railway

Charlestown Train Station

Local Miners

Lime Centre

Steam Train at Charlestown Station

The Old Elgin Hotel (Now Camsie House)

War Memorial

Charlestown Brae with cobbled hill

Charlestown Harbour & Ship

Limekilns Pier

Limekilns Pier

Charlestown Harbour with Ships

Charlestown Harbour with boats

Charlestown Laundry 

Limekilns Pier

Local Miners

Gin Head Bridge

Charlestown Lime Mines

Railway Buffers inside Charlestown mines

Easter Cottage

Railway Tunnel

Foothies Mill

Signal Cottage


North Row


Quarry Mines

Top of the exposed Kilns

Washing Green

Ship Breaking

Kiln Plan

Estate Office