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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  1. That is a fascinating bit of local history. The photo is very cool!

  2. Great photo, James. Gives me a bit of vertigo 😉

  3. I’d be a wee bit terrified to have that in my backyard.

    Have you seen any of these sinkholes? I know it’s a morbid question, but I’m curious.

  4. thanks for the great link! i love some of those textures, and its reassuring to find this obsession shared…..

  5. oh goodness!

  6. so the earth moves in your neck of the woods

  7. Enjoyed your photos. I’ll be back to have a better look.

    I was in Bath many years ago on my way up to Chester and loved it.

  8. […] it by fixing up its leaks and relining it with concrete. Ironically, it was built on the inferior local Bath stone material instead of the recommended brick because before the canal was built brick was far more […]

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