Two centuries
of business

Company History


Since the 1850s, Singleton Birch Ltd has been quarrying Lincolnshire chalk and working to establish an impeccable reputation with our customers and stakeholders. Singleton Birch Ltd is a company with a proud past and a very bright future. The company was established in 1815 and is named after the founder Wm. Singleton Birch, who was a minerals merchant. Singleton Birch Ltd is now a global supplier of lime products and services.

1815 The company was established and on the 23rd March of that year...

The company was established and on the 23rd March of that year William Singleton Birch was born. He was raised in Manchester where he developed a mineral merchanting business and in 1875 became the founder of the limited company, 'W.Singleton Birch & Sons Limited'. The company during the lifetime of the founder, was very much a family affair.

1845 A small pit producing whiting had been in existence for several years...

A small pit producing whiting had been in existence for several years on land at ‘Chalk Hill’, Melton Ross leased from the Earl of Yarborough by Edward Fowler of Market Rasen. From this quarry he supplied W.S.Birch with whiting shipped from Grimsby by coasters which made up their cargoes with other products from the south coast, such as china clay.

1851 After the railway was extended eastwards from Manchester via ...

After the railway was extended eastwards from Manchester via Sheffield and through to Grimsby,  W.S.Birch leased land from the Earl of Yarborough at Melton Ross, in Lincolnshire.

1861 An agreement was made between W S Birch and the Earl of ...

An agreement was made between W S Birch and the Earl of Yarborough part of which shows a plan of the quarry and an area adjacent leased to the Railway Company.

1875 Further agreements between the Earl of Yarborough and W.S.Birch...

Further agreements between the Earl of Yarborough and W.S.Birch for the occupation of land at  ‘Chalk Hill’, Melton Ross when it is interesting to note that a plan drawn up as part of an agreement indicates a kiln existed on site at that time. In that same year the business was registered as a Limited company on 19th April (Registration Number 9433). W.S.Birch was by now a mineral merchant of considerable standing having built up the business during the industrial revolution, mainly in Lancashire, where he developed warehouses and distribution centres based predominantly on, rail and canal transportation.

1881 W S Birch died. He remained the majority shareholder...

W S Birch died. He remained the majority shareholder and in charge of the business until just before his death when he chose to hand over to his two sons, who had earlier joined their father in the company and held key positions.

1883 William Arthur Birch (eldest son of W S Birch) died...

William Arthur Birch (eldest son of W S Birch) died.  The younger son, Thomas Henry, was to carry on in charge of the company as majority shareholder for the next thirty six years. It was Thomas Henry’s wish that the grandson of W S Birch, Lionel Walker Birch Martin, would inherit his majority shareholding of the company and that he would continue to carry on the established business of W.Singleton Birch & Sons Limited.

1915 Lionel Martin became a director of the company...

Lionel Martin became a director of the company but at this time he did not play a significant part in the day to day running of the business. He was more interested in cars, particularly fast cars, giving his name to the legendary Aston-Martin car. His autobiography covers in great detail his racing exploits and there is reference to his quarrying interests in Lincolnshire helping to fund what started off as a hobby

1929 Lionel Martin became majority shareholder....

Lionel Martin became majority shareholder.

1945 Lionel Martin died. The majority shareholding passed to his....

Lionel Martin died. The majority shareholding passed to his wife, Katherine Martin.

1958 Katherine Martin died, the majority of shares were left in trust....

Katherine Martin died. The majority of shares were left in trust for the benefit of three charities, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Barnardos. These charities today are receiving income from Singleton Birch in the form of dividends.

1960 Steel making practices changed and shaft lime kilns were introduced....

Steel making practices changed and shaft lime kilns were introduced at Melton Ross Works to produce burnt lime to replace the use of raw stone as a flux in the steel furnaces at Scunthorpe.  The company’s first hydrating plant was commissioned in 1964 to produce a high calcium hydrated lime powder.

1970's The shaft kilns were replaced with 2 x 300 tonnes per day....

The shaft kilns were replaced with 2 x 300 tonnes per day gas fired rotating hearth Calcimatic lime kilns to meet the steelworks demand for high quality and large tonnages.

1980's Three new shaft lime kilns were constructed.....

Three new shaft lime kilns were constructed. The kilns were Maerz kilns of the parallel flow regenerative type which produce good quality lime using less fuel.

1990's A new Cimprogetti hydrating plant, the fourth Maerz kiln....

A new Cimprogetti hydrating plant, the fourth Maerz kiln and the Graded Lime Plant were installed and the company was registered to BS5750 and the Investors in People standard.  

2000 Singleton Birch celebrates 125 Years as a Limited Company....

Singleton Birch celebrates 125 Years as a Limited Company and a second Cimprogetti hydrator was commissioned.

2001 Singleton Birch achieve ISO 14001....

Singleton Birch achieve ISO 14001, the Environmental performance standard.

2003 Singleton Birch achieve ISO 9001....

Singleton Birch achieve ISO 9001, the Quality Management standard.

2004 Singleton Birch achieve OHSAS 18001....

Singleton Birch achieve OHSAS 18001, the Occupational Health and Safety performance standard and a limestone fines plant is commissioned.

2005 The Ultralime hydrated lime bagging....

The Ultralime hydrated lime bagging plant is commissioned to pack 25kg bags. 

2009 Singleton Birch Limited acquisition of Innovo Chemicals Ltd....

Singleton Birch Limited acquisition of Innovo Chemicals Limited. 

2010 Singleton Birch Limited acquisition of Batts Combe Lime Kiln and...

Singleton Birch Limited acquisition of Batts Combe Lime Kiln and associated plant at Cheddar, Somerset. 

2014Saw the creation of 'Birch Energy' and the construction...

Saw the  creation of 'Birch Energy' and the construction of the first AD (Anaerobic Digestion) plant on the Singleton Birch Ltd, Melton Ross site. 

2015Singleton Birch Ltd celebrate 200 years!

The company was established in 1815 and is named after the founder Wm. Singleton Birch, who was a minerals merchant based in Manchester. The company took on the quarrying lease at Melton Ross in North Lincolnshire in 1851 when the railway was extended eastward from Manchester via Sheffield to Grimsby. Originally a family business, Singleton Birch has significantly expanded and the business is a global supplier of lime products and services, with the lime produced used in many everyday products.  
2015 marked our 200th year anniversary.

TodayThe Trustees of the Katherine Martin Charitable Trust...

The Trustees of the Katherine Martin Charitable Trust still administer the largest shareholding in SINGLETON BIRCH LIMITED.

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