Thames Silicated Stone Works

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“[Frederick Ransome] conceived the idea of producing artificial stone capable of being moulded to any form, and to be a perfect imitation, both in appearance and substance, of the blocks taken from our best quarries. For ten years, the difficulties he had to encounter were very great; but he at length succeeded in making not only perfectly equable and homogeneous grindstones, with keen cutting powers and that needed no dressing, but also the decorative stonework which, among other places, was introduced in the Brighton Aquarium, London Docks, Albert Bridge, Whitehall and St. Thomas’s Hospital. The demand for this artificial stone becoming much extended, the inventions were taken up by a company in 1871 and extensive works were erected at East Greenwich, to which the business was transferred. They were carried on by A. H. Bate- man & Co. Ltd. The material was, to all intents and purposes, a pure sandstone whose silicious particles were bound together by a cement of silicate of lime-a mineral substance well-known to be of the most indestructible nature. It could be moulded to any form while in a plastic state.

Ransome’s artificial stone is prepared by mixing sodium silicate with sand, moulding the mixture to shape and then immersing the product in a solution of calcium chloride. A cement of calcium silicate is thus produced and the sodium, chloride is removed (though not completely) by prolonged washing with water. Samples of this stone have attained a crushing strength of 2 tons per square inch. This process owning to the expense of the skilled labour required has been discontinued.”

“In 1866 Frederick Ransome came from Ipswich to take over a site roughly on the area of today’s Victoria Wharf for a ‘patent stone works’. He described this as an ‘immense factory…on an ugly and pestiferous marsh’.It is perhaps noteworthy that the site was partly owned by Henry Bessemer, the steel magnate. By 1868 Ransome was in business with a counting house, chimney, wharf, jetty and so on. The stone making process was somewhat complicated but in essence the idea was to ‘dissolve common flint’ and turn it into ‘glue’. This was used to bind pure sandstone with cement of silicate of lime. The result could be worked in a plastic state and later with a chisel like natural stone. It was said to produce ‘carvings like the best Portland stone’.31 Some of Ransome’s concrete can be seen at St.Thomas’s Hospital in London. Hodges, Butler and Dale, took over the stone works from Ransome and it is intriguing that after this date the rates were paid in the name of Henry Bessemer, himself as owner. In the future the factory was variously known as ‘Thames Silicated Stone’ or ‘Imperial Stone’ and the area became known as ‘Imperial Wharf’.”

“The Ransome stone, as our readers are for the most part aware, is produced by dissolving flints in caustic soda and mixing the resulting silicate soda with dry silicious sand and limestone powder. The paste thus formed is to any desired shape, and then hardened by immersion in a solution chloride of calcium. A shower bath cold water drives off the chloride sodium, and the stone, after being dried, is ready for use.”

“The chief materials used in the manufacture of the patent concrete stone are sand, gravel, flints, chalk, limestone, caustic soda, chloride of calcium, and water. The works are most favourably situated for obtaining supplies of all these ingredients, some of which are found in the immediate neighbourhood. Gravel can be had cheaply enough from the bed of the Thames, whilst sand of the finest quality is obtained from Maidstone, whence it comes by water. Chalk and flint abound in pits near the works, the chemicals are conveyed from the north of England by water carriage, whilst a well which has been sunk on the works furnishes a water supply which is augmented when necessary by a main from the North Kent Water Company.”

“Messrs. Hodges, Butler, & Dale, Thames Stone Works, Bridge-street, Westminster, and Greenwich (Stand 50) exhibit numerous specimens of “Imperial Stone” coping, windowsills, steps, coal-plate, stones, silicated st sewers, and water pipes, with other of artificial stone.”

Detailed description of making the artifical stone:

Detailed description of the works from 1868:

The partnership between Hodges, Butler, & Dale was dissolved in 1883: "From the LONDON GAZETTE, Friday, Jan. 19." Times [London, England] 20 Jan. 1883: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.




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Located in



Artificial stone

Used Raw Materials

sand, gravel, flint, limestone, chalk, caustic soda, calcium chloride, water


From To Owner
1866 1878 Frederick Ransome
1878 1883 Hodges, Butler, and Dale


From To Industry
1866 The date "{{{to_date}}}" was not understood.The date "{{{to_date}}}" was not understood. Chemical Industry