In the 1930s, the harbour was well established for the importation of bulk commodities including coal, grain and timber.
Whitstable was therefore an excellent location for Brett Aggregates, a Canterbury based company. Their first tarmacadam plant was built in Whitstable harbour in 1936.
The raw materials for tarmac were then granite chippings or blast furnace slag, imported into Whitstable by sea, and refined coal tar supplied from a site in Canterbury. There was a big demand for tarmac for housing estates and other developments in the north Kent coastal towns from the late 1930’s onwards. The eastern wharf at Whitstable harbour has been used for marine-dredged aggregate importation since the 1960’s.
In more recent years, Brett has imported granite from the West Country and Scotland, and slag-based Type 1 material from France. Type 1 is the vital load-bearing foundation material used in road construction. The current asphalt plant at Whitstable Harbour is the third Brett plant to be located on this site.
The production process involves blending the aggregates and then heating them to a temperature suitable for coating them with the bitumen binder. After more than 70 years of continued operations, Brett at Whitstable remains an important supplier of aggregates and asphalt for the construction industry in Kent and provides long-term employment for local people.
Published: Monday 05 February
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