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ALUM MINING

ALUM MINING

Old Harbour at Hummersea

old harbour

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In the Seventeenth century, the Alum mining industry began at near-by Hummersea. Skinningrove thus became increasingly busy with horse and cart traffic passing across the scar (or wave -cut platform) , to Hummersea.

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Traces of this can still be seen, with deep cuts worn into the rocks, below Hummersea  cliffs

Alum became important as a chemical for fixing dyes in textiles and in the tanning of leather. It was also used in the manufacture of parchment, for hardening candles and fire-proofing. From the 1851 census return,we know that a number of alum miners/labourers and even manufacturers, were resident in Skinningrove. The sandstone used for building the hamlet was possibly a by-product of the alum mines. Layers of sandstone having had to be removed by quarrying, before the alum could be reached. This then was the first encroachment of industry of Skinningrove. This industry lasted well over 200 years, coming to an end in 1870, when the invention of aniline dyes in Germany rendered the use of alum as a mordant in the wool industry redundant.

Stan Binks