Tytherington Quarries

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Tytherington Life

Quarry Role of Honour

Dangers of quarrying

Recollections of quarrying in Tytherington

Southmead Lime Works, Itchington

The Railway and the Tytherington Quarries

Quarry Huts

Ernest Skuse long service medal

Quarry Wages Sheet 1961

Lime Kilns

Cement Slab Factory

Death at the quarry of Arthur Davis 1927

The map of Main and Church Quarries in 1921 shows clearly the complexity of the buildings and sidings, and the extent of the encroachment into the Iron Age Camp.

 

The small quarries for local building stone and lime burning are still visible; at least fourteen can be identified. But it was the coming of the Yate to Thornbury railway in 1872 which fundamentally changed the future of the community, by promoting the commercial exploitation of the limestone. Initially the employment was a godsend at a time of increasing agricultural depression; later, the quarry company developed into a major industrial concern.
John Hawkins Tyler of West End Farm was without doubt a man of energy and enterprise. Already working a small quarry on his land across West Street from his farmhouse, he seized the opportunity of bringing the new railway into his quarry, and sending stone out by train. He may have provoked his early death by overwork; he died in 1877 aged ?. But the quarry and the sidings were established, and a Vestry Meeting shortly after his death resolved that the Stone Quarry 'be forthwith rated to the Poor Rate at 50 p.a.'. Is it relevant that, up to his demise, Tyler had been a Church Warden? The first edition of the O.S. 6 inch map, surveyed in 1879, shows the quarry (already eating away the earthworks of the Iron Age camp), the limekiln and two sidings. Tyler's widow Mary was a competent woman, by all accounts; she continued to farm 390 acres, with 12 men and 4 boys and also ran the quarry. But at this time the young Squire Hardwicke came to the village, a confident 25 year old in 1882, and soon saw that the limestone hill behind the church was accessible to the railway and that this was his land. Within a few years, sidings were constructed across Stow Hill Road and up alongside the churchyard, and the quarrying of Church quarry was in progress by about 1890. Contemporary photographs show that the village was no rural backwater; the noise, dust and pollution all along West Street and behind the churchyard opposite The Grange would have been near intolerable. The quarries were dangerous places, also, with lost lives and disablement occurring all too regularly.

The quarries were now being run by The Tytherington Stone Company, described as quarry owners and stone merchants, but the direction of H L Hardwicke can be seen behind it, no more so than in the bold move to bid for stone for the proposed Avonmouth Docks in 1902, leading to the opening of the Grovesend quarry. The quarry began using a small mobile crusher, and two years later, steam drills were introduced. The contract for stone for the Royal Edward Dock (capable of taking the largest vessels afloat') saw 60 to 65 rail trucks, each carrying 8 tons, leaving for Avonmouth each weekend. There was no siding at Grovesend, so loading had to be done on Sundays when no passenger trains ran. In 1990 this quarry produced some 30,000 tons a week.

The photograph below of a postcard is entitled 'Stone quarries Tytherington'. 

Main Quarry, up West Street, closed in 1910 and Church Quarry in 1920. The development of these quarries at the turn of the century was spurred by the dynamic Alfred Creed, son of Hardwicke's farm bailiff at Barmersland (described earlier in connection with Patchwork Cottage). So important did Alfred become that in 1902 he is entered in Kelly's Directory as one of the select few 'Gentry' in the village. He moved away in 1903 to prosper as a quarry owner. There is a considerable list of Quarry Managers over the succeeding 85 years. Huxtable, after the First War, took a prominent part in village life and was very popular. By contrast, Handscombe was described as 'a good servant to his master the Squire, but not much liked in the village'. Meanwhile, although the name was retained, The Tytherington Stone Company had been embraced by the Teign Valley Granite Co., which in turn became Roads Reconstruction Ltd. and, after liquidation in the depression of the thirties, Roads Reconstruction (1934) Ltd. The enterprise has been steadily absorbed into larger and larger companies; Amey Roadstone, ARC, Consolidated Goldfields and, most recently, Hanson Trust.

In 1906, the company added 'pennant cement slab manufacturers' to its description. The 'Slab Sheds' were a prominent and not very decorative feature along Stow Hill Road until about 1935; but they were an important part of the enterprise. 1914 saw the additional description of 'tar-macadam manufacturers', something which continues today. The company was an early telephone subscriber, with the number 'No 13 Thornbury'. As early as 1905, the quarry was appearing on picture postcards, and several subsequent photographs exist. One pre-First War shot shows the 'Duplicate Asphaltic Tarmacadam Plant' at Grovesend; a solid tyred Foden-type steam lorry is waiting to be loaded, as are trucks labelled Gloucestershire Comic Supervising the scene is a man wearing an astrakhan cap, a long overcoat. gloves and with a walking stick, the Squire?

1934 saw the company beginning a series of acquisitions. The Villa bought from Hardwicke, who sold various mineral rights in 1937. Woodleaze Farm was acquired in 1940, another 15 acres in 1944, The Coppice from the Hardwicke estate in 1946 and The Larches in 1958. The necessity of pumping surplus water to the Ladden Brook required 'Rights of Passage of Water', and there were agreements with the Pearce family to cover this. In 1984 quarrying was extended south of the railway into Woodleaze Farm land. In 1972 an ambitious scheme to reintroduce the transport of stone by rail was established; the railway track was restored and a loading terminal made at Grovesend.

The first shunting engine of which there are records was the 'Iron Duke'; click on the thumbnail photograph (below right) of about 1897 which shows the engine, very closely related to a farm traction engine, standing on the level crossing by the church, with the churchyard trees in the background. The driver is Thomas Creed, the fireman Albert Cassell (then aged 16, later father of Reg and Arthur).

The 'Iron Duke' was followed by 'Daphne', a typical shunting tank-engine, named after the Squire's eldest daughter. Click on the thumbnail photograph below of about 1905 which shows Thomas Davis the driver (father of Emmie), with George and Charlie Livall and Alfred Kingscott in attendance. Daphne, redundant, went north for further service in industry and was recently found in a scrapyard. That later photographs of the quarry activities fail to include the men involved perhaps shows increasing commercialisation of the industry.

The quarry company has been a benefactor of the parish in the post-war years. The Coronation Garden next to the churchyard was leased to the Parish Council in 1954 and Jubilee Garden opposite similarly leased in 1976 for 99 years at a rent of 1 a year as 'a public open space for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Parish of Tytherington'. And then a long standing confusion over the ownership of Tytherington Hill was cleared up: the southern half was leased in 1976 for 99 years at a rent of 10 a year, the north end sold (except for mineral rights) to the Parish Council for 1.

 

The Great War Roll of Honour for the Tytherington Stone Co employees can be found here.

Tytherington Quarry 1999