The Old Quarry ~ Thursday’s Special



I’ve always found quarries disturbing places – the wholesale delving into the earth, the ravaged landscapes left behind. And yes, I know we need the resources. (Our own house is built of this fossilized Silurian Sea, although actually I’d be just as happy with brick or timber).

Shadwell Quarry behind Much Wenlock’s Windmill Hill is only one of the many old limestone quarries along Wenlock Edge. These days they are no longer worked but host various business enterprises that simply need a large amount of storage space. Quarry owners are supposed to do some restoration after the blasting has stopped, but I’ve not noticed much of this actually happening.

These photos show how slowly recolonization of quarried land takes place. (For an aerial view go HERE.) It has been twenty years since Shadwell was decommissioned.

The water in the quarry bottom is also a strange blue, almost turquoise at times, coloured by the limestone deposits. At over seventy feet deep, it lures tipsy young men to prove their manliness by diving in from one of the man-made cliffs while their mates film the act and post the videos on You Tube. Last summer I spotted gangs of school leavers heading off behind Windmill Hill. They were armed with ghetto blasters and towels and I overheard them saying they were ‘going to the beach’.

It’s interesting how people’s perceptions of places differ. One sees ‘exciting resort’; another oppressive dereliction – albeit with strains of desolate grandeur.



I’ve written more about the history of Wenlock’s limestone quarrying  at Hidden Wenlock #4

This week at Lost in Translation Paula’s theme is ‘forbidding’. Please call in there if you want to take part in the challenge. She suggests many possibilities for interpretation.

27 thoughts on “The Old Quarry ~ Thursday’s Special

  1. Tish, I know they are forbidding, but please, don’t hate me for feeling so attracted to the turquoise water in the quarry. The photo with the fence is the most convincing one when it comes to forbidding. Honestly, I would know your photos among thousand different photos of similar scenes. I’m very happy and honoured with your submission. Big thanks.

    1. Indeed, Paula. I do agree that the water is a very appealing colour – one of my favourites in fact in any other context. It’s hard to capture what I find so weird about it in that particular location. Maybe the only answer is to be there 🙂

    1. Our Shadwell Quarry did have permission to become a diving school, which would at least have provided order and organisation, but nothing came of it. The mention of all your New England quarries makes me think. When we’re busy admiring fine 19th century civic buildings etc we forget the gaping holes in the ground they left behind.

  2. This is very interesting to me. As a child I found quarries to be foreboding, and then when I lived in Pennsylvania with my family, we belonged to what is the oldest swimming association in the State of Pa., which is called The Quarry Club…..and it was fantastic. I must get some pictures together and write a post about it so that you can see what I am talking about. Because the quarry was of Serpentine Stone, the water was a beautiful turquoise blue….and to this day the place has very happy memories for me and my family. Thank you for reminding me of this…Janet:)

  3. An interesting and reflective piece on quarries. There are many old quarries around here and they can be quite forbidding. I wonder too if there is a limited number of names available in this world – we have a Shadwell Quarry here too. 🙂

    1. That’s intriguing name-wise. Local history here says it’s a contraction of ‘shady well’. But I’m wondering if there’s a connection re quarry ownership – someone connected with Shadwell here, maybe went out to Oz?

      1. The quarry is in a small country town some distance from here. Next time I’m up that way I will see if I can learn more.

  4. Beautiful images – love them… We have lots of quarries around here also, the whole area is sitting on one giant gravel bed and gravel of course is the main ingredient in aggregates and the needs for cement, especially now that hillside development is “de rigueur” due to a lame and late effort to protect remaining flat agricultural lands, is of paramount importance. Unlike yours however, our quarries are just deep holes, gravel extraction pits now filled with water. For good swimmers, they make awesome pools since the water tends to get warm enough to swim in, much sooner than in our rivers or lakes.

    1. I’m almost sure we have planning conditions that say just that, but it depends on local authorities enforcing the conditions, and that doesn’t seem to happen in Shropshire. We were hoping that many of the quarries would be acquired by the National Trust. They had wonderful plans for restoring and re-using the spaces for all manner of leisure pursuits – both quiet and active. The Edge is a site of international scientific interest for its geology. But it did not happen.

      1. I think we also have an act that say the same thing. As far as I can tell, only Bamburi cement have attempted this at the coast

  5. I share your feelings about quarries, Italian marble being carved from the earth and transported around the world to rich peoples homes – and Dartmoor granite!

  6. Similarly to you, I often think “the earth is wounded” when I see a quarry. However, your pictures convey a strong sense of rough beauty I quite like. And though I do not particularly like fences, I love that picture too, especially as a response to Paula’s challenge.

  7. These are amazing photos and the link puts them in context – what a view! The colours make them look like quite sinister places, although I agree there is something beautiful too. Sinister beauty?

  8. Those rocks around your house have quite a history. Man’s (we’ll let you women off the hook for a while) plunder of the earth leaves scars, not to mention all the piles of concrete and styrofoam cups, and not to mention nuclear waste material by the tonload, but it all grows back eventually, and meanwhile some good swimming holes. And photos.

    1. Cheers, Stephen. It’s good to celebrate the good sides of things, even if we all glow in the dark after a dip in nuclear seepage. Most of the UK’s goes into the Celtic Sea I believe – off North Wales.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.