070220.Combe Down, The Blob — Quarry

February 20, 2007 at 12:03 AM | Posted in Bath, Chisel Marks, Combe Down, Overcast, roofs, somerset, University of Bath | 8 Comments

061022.009.Somset.Bath.Combe Down.Quarry Houses

Combe Down is littered with former quarry sites–mostly dating from Ralph Allen’s time. Everyone seems to have one in their backyard. Sometimes they appear overnight. “Mom, am I imagining things or did the hill face move closer to the house?” You get the picture.

Bath has several different types of oolitic limestone, each named for the hill it was quarried on but I’m not going to get into details now. Most of the quarries in Bath, however, are underground. In fact, Combe Down is mostly tunnels and the quarries were more or less labyrinth underground cities with the stone being carted out by horses (leading to the tunnels being filled with stone-carved water troughs.) Even part of the U of Bath campus on neighboring Claverton Down hill used to be a quarry.

Technically, if a quarry is underground then it becomes a mine (even though the tunnels aren’t for metal) but the Combe Down tunnels retained their “quarry” name to avoid mine legislation.Today, however, these quarry tunnels are legally mines and the larger concern facing the government is filling them in.

Sinkholes used to constantly appear and collapse roads and structures on this hill, so that now the government is spending millions of pounds to secure and fill the tunnels, so I hear. It’s an odd cycle.

Tune in tomorrow for more Ralph Allen Week on Bath DP.

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