A Chronological History of Bath Stone Quarrying

Compiled by Mike Breakspear

(If anyone has any amendments or additions to this list please email: bathstonemines@cerberusspeleo.org.uk)

670 c. Saint Aldhelm is reputed to have thrown down his glove and said "Dig here and you shall find great treasure" meaning the Box Freestone.

1540 c. Leyland in his 'Itinerary' mentions a notable quarry close to Bath, thought later by John Wood to be Horse Comb Quarry.

1663 A Danish scholar, Oluf Borch, made the earliest reference to an underground Bath Stone quarry.

1710 Ralph Allen moved to Bath.

1725 Earliest date found carved in Firs Mine, Combe Down.

1726 Ralph Allen commenced buying land on Comb Down.

1727 The River Avon Navigation from Bath to Bristol was opened.

1728 Ralph Allen aquired land on the river bank at Dolmead with a view to exporting stone by boat.

1729 Ralph Allen's tramway, running from Combe Down to Dolmead Wharf was built by John Padmore.

1729 c. Firs Quarry was opened by Ralph Allen.

1741 Prior Park, Ralph Allen's show house was completed.

1764 Ralph Allen died.

1801 The Kennet and Avon opened their own quarry at Conkwell with an inclined tramway down to the canal.

1803 A tramway, again built by the Kennet and Avon Canal Co. was built running down from Murhill quarry to the canal.

1807 Combe Down quarry rights were purchased by John Thomas of Bristol.

1808 c. An Inclined plane was built from Bathhampton quarries to the Kennet and Avon Canal.

1810 The Kennet and Avon Canal was opened.

1825 c. Cranes were used in underground quarries from about this date.

1829 Work started at Box Field Quarry which includes The Cathedral. It was worked by Job Pictor.

1829 Prior Park House was purchased by the Right Reverend Dr.Baines for use as a college.

1836 Prior Park House was badly damaged by fire.

1841 Box railway tunnel was completed. As a result of the excavations it became apparent that there were vast quantities of freestone unworked and from this date the quarry industry expanded rapidly in the Corsham area.

1844 Work started at Tunnel Quarry. This was the original major quarry in the area. It had a broad guage railway running into the underground workings. By 1864 it was producing one hundred thousand tons of stone annually.

1847 c. Seven Shaft Quarry was started by Randell and Saunders.

1849 The earliest underground tramway was built.

1856 Waterhole Quarry was opened by Pictors near Hawthorne. It was very wet so work was moved to Spring Quarry in 1875. From 1937 Spring Quarry became the second largest ammunition store.

1860 By this date Stone in Firs Quarry on Combe Down was exhausted.

1865 Work started at Clift Quarry. A gravity tramway took the stone to the west end of Box tunnel. The quarry is now part of the Box mine complex.

1874 Hudswell Quarry near Hawthorne was opened by Randell and Saunders.

1875 Hudswell Quarry was connected by tramway to the main line at Corsham.

1875 Old Ridge Quarry was started by Randell and Saunders. In the Second World War it was used to store American bombs and small arms.

1877 Small quarrying companies such as Randell and Saunders, Hartham and Yockney and Pictors amalgamated into the Bath Stone Firms.

1878 New Ridge Quarry, close to Neston, was started by the Corsham Quarrying Company. It was used by the Government in The First and Second World Wars.

1880 Randell and Saunders started work at Park Lane Quarry. It was closed during the Second World War and the tramways lifted. It was later reopened but closed finally in 1958.

1881 Monkton Farleigh Quarry started production and only ceased when the workings were converted to become the largest single underground munitions store in Europe. It was opened to the public in the 1980s but is now closed and derelict again.

1886 A network of tramways around Corsham was complete by this date.

1886 Monks Park Quarry, previously known as Sumsions Monks and Monks North, was started by Sumsions. It is still producing stone for ARC.

1887 The Bath stone Firms came into existence, made up of seven companies.

1890 Longsplatt Quarry, near Kingsdown, started work.

1890 c. Work started at Sands Quarry. It was disused by 1923.

1890 c. Work started at Westwells Quarry (Moor Park) it closed in 1952.

1899 The Bath Stone Firms took over Portland Quarries.

1900 c. Brockleaze Quarry, also known as Goblin Pit or Wansdyke, began work. Now used for storage by Wansdyke Security.

1900 c. Work began at Clubhouse Quarry. It suffered from flooding and poor stone. It was used in the Second World War as storage for foreign currency.

1900 After 1900, tallow candles began to be replaced by circular benzene lamps 4in dia and about 2in high.

1904 Goods Hill Quarry, three quarters of a mile south of Gastard, was developed but never worked due to flooding.

1904 The Bath Stone FIrms began working Pickwick Quarry. It was in use up to 1961.

1905 c. Hartham Park Quarry, half a mile west of Corsham, was started up by Marsh Son and Gibbs and was later worked by Yockney and Hartham Park Stone Co.

1908 The Bath and Portland Stone Co. was formed from the Bath Stone Firms.

1912 Sands Quarry closed.

1914 Seven Shaft Quarry closed.

1914 Mushrooms were grown in Pockeridge Quarry, Corsham from this date but the industry moved to Bradford on Avon in 1939.

1914 Hudswell Quarry closed.

1920 c. Elm Park Quarry at Gastard was worked with horses and carts until 1920. The hard stone was used for kerbstones. In the Second World War it became an oil dump for the RAF.

1920 Longsplatt Quarry closed down.

1935 Cox's vertical shaft mine on Combe Down closed.

1936 Tunnel Quarry and Hudswell Quarry were taken over by the Government.

1937 Copenacre Quarry was taken over by the Government. It was formerly owned by Marsh, Son and Gibb then Lucas and Kinnear.

1937 Pictor's Monks Quarry was taken over by the Government for use as an ammunition store.

1937 Spring Quarry closed.

1938 St. Winifred's Quarry on Combe Down closed.

1939 Hartham Park Quarry was taken over by the Government.

1940 Ridge Mine closed.

1942 A large aircraft factory was built in a mine west of Corsham.

1945 Moor Park was the first quarry to be decontrolled by the Government.

1948 Samson coal cutters were tested at Moor Park and later used at Monk's Park.

1949 Moor Park closed.

1952 Work began again after the war at Monk's Park.

1952 Westwell Quarry closed down.

1958 Horses were used until this date at Clift Quarry.

1958 Hartham Park Quarry No 2 closed down.

1964 Hartham Park Quarry closed.

1968 Clift Quarry closed.

1985 Bath and Portland Stone Co. became a subsidiary company of ARC.


Cerberus Spelaeological Society 1998

Originally published in the Journal of the Cerberus Spelaeological Society, Volume 24. No. 3, April 1998.

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