The Info List - Bath Stone

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BATH STONE is an oolitic limestone comprising granular fragments of calcium carbonate . Originally obtained from the Combe Down
Combe Down
and Bathampton Down Mines under Combe Down
Combe Down
, Somerset
, England
, its warm, honey colouring gives the World Heritage City
World Heritage City
of Bath , England its distinctive appearance. An important feature of Bath Stone is that it is a 'freestone ', so-called because it can be sawn or 'squared up' in any direction, unlike other rocks such as slate , which forms distinct layers.

Bath Stone has been used extensively as a building material throughout southern England, for churches, houses, and public buildings such as railway stations.

Some quarries are still in use, but the majority have been either converted to other purposes or are being filled in.


* 1 Geological formation * 2 Use as a building stone

* 3 Mines

* 3.1 Box Mine * 3.2 Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines

* 4 Other uses of stone mines * 5 Mine rehabilitation * 6 See also * 7 References


Bath Stone is an oolitic limestone comprising granular fragments of calcium carbonate laid down during the Jurassic Period
Jurassic Period
(195 to 135 million years ago) when the region that is now Bath was under a shallow sea. Layers of marine sediment were deposited, and individual spherical grains were coated with lime as they rolled around the sea bed, forming the Bathonian Series of rocks. Under the microscope, these grains or ooliths (egg stones) are sedimentary rock formed from ooids : spherical grains composed of concentric layers. That name derives from the Hellenic word òoion for egg . Strictly, oolites consist of ooids of diameter 0.25–2 mm. Rocks composed of ooids larger than 2 mm are called pisolites . They frequently contain minute fragments of shell or rock, and sometimes even decayed skeletons of marine life. Bath stone
Bath stone
was taken from the Bath Oolite
Member and the Combe Down
Combe Down
Member of the Chalfield Oolite
Formation, part of the Great Oolite
Group .


An old crane at Freshford Quarry

An important feature of Bath Stone is that it is a freestone , that is one that can be sawn or 'squared up' in any direction, unlike other rocks such as slate , which forms distinct layers. In the Roman and Medieval periods, Bath Stone was extensively used on domestic, ecclesiastical and civil engineering projects such as bridges.

The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases , which was founded in 1738, was designed by John Wood the Elder , and built with Bath stone
Bath stone
donated by Allen. It is a Grade II listed building . There is a fine pediment on the building, in Bath stone, which depicts the parable of the good Samaritan .

St Stephens church , situated on Lansdown Hill in Bath, was constructed from a limestone sourced from the Limpley Stoke mine, which is situated in the Limpley Stoke Valley. The church has recently been restored. Arno\'s Court Triumphal Arch

The material has also been used widely outside Bath itself. Claverton Pumping Station at Claverton , which was built of Bath Stone in about 1810, pumps water from the River Avon to the Kennet and Avon Canal
Kennet and Avon Canal
, using power from the flow of the River Avon. The stone was also used for the Dundas Aqueduct , which is 150 yards (137.2 m) long, and has three arches built of Bath Stone, with Doric pilasters, and balustrades at each end.

Much of Bristol Cathedral
Bristol Cathedral
was built of Bath Stone, and the Wills Tower, which is the dominant feature of the Wills Memorial Building , is constructed in reinforced concrete faced with Bath and Clipsham stone. Bristol's Cabot Tower was also faced with Bath Stone. Arno\'s Court Triumphal Arch was built from Bath stone
Bath stone
in about 1760, and was later dismantled before being rebuilt in its current location.

Bath Stone was also favoured by architect Hans Price , who designed much of 19th century Weston-super-Mare
. In Barnstable , the 1855 construction of Butchers Row used Bath Stone.

In London
, the neo-classical Georgian mansion Lancaster House
Lancaster House
was built from Bath Stone in 1825 for the Duke of York and Albany , the second son of King George III , as was St Luke\'s Church, Chelsea in 1824, and several other churches, including Church of Christ the King, Bloomsbury , were built from the material. Apsley House
Apsley House
, the town house of the Dukes of Wellington, was remodelled by the 1st Duke, using in Bath Stone cladding over the original red brick.

In Reading , the original building of the Royal Berkshire Hospital
Royal Berkshire Hospital
of 1839, together with the wings added in the 1860s, are built of Bath Stone, with slate roofs. They are now listed grade II* by English Heritage . In 1860, the nearby Reading railway station
Reading railway station
, incorporating a tower and clock, was constructed by the Great Western Railway using Bath Stone, and the company also used it for Chippenham railway station . Tyntesfield

Other mansions which have used Bath Stone include: Gatcombe Park
Gatcombe Park
, Goldney Hall
Goldney Hall
, Tyntesfield
, South Hill Park , Spetchley Park
Spetchley Park

In 2002 the East End of Truro Cathedral
Truro Cathedral
was completely renovated and restored with some of the ornate Bath Stone replaced with harder-wearing Syreford stone. In 2005 the West Front was restored similarly. Both projects were supervised by MRDA Architects of London, the Cathedral architects.


Bath Stone was mined underground at Combe Down
Combe Down
and Bathampton Down Mines , in Somerset; and as a result of cutting the Box Tunnel
Box Tunnel
, at various locations in Wiltshire
, including Box and Corsham

In the early 18th century, Ralph Allen
Ralph Allen
promoted the use of the stone in Bath itself, and demonstrated its potential by using it for his own mansion at Prior Park . Following a failed bid to supply stone to buildings in London, Allen wanted a building which would show off the properties of Bath Stone as a building material. He acquired the stone quarries at Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines . Hitherto, the quarry masons had always hewn stone roughly providing blocks of varying size. Wood required stone blocks to be cut with crisp, clean edges for his distinctive classical façades. The distinctive honey-coloured Bath Stone was used to build the Georgian city. Stone was extracted by the "room and pillar" method, by which chambers were mined, leaving pillars of stone to support the roof. Allen built a railway line from his mine on Combe Down
Combe Down
which carried the stone down the hill, now known as Ralph Allen
Ralph Allen
Drive, which runs beside Prior Park, to a wharf he constructed at Bath Locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal to transport stone to London.

In the 18th century mines at Budbury near Bradford on Avon
Bradford on Avon
and Corsham
the mines were developed by the Methuen and Northey families. The mine at Monkton Farleigh was leased to quarrymen by the Diocese of Salisbury .

Underground extraction of Bath Stone continues in the Corsham
area but on a smaller scale than previously. For example, Hanson Bath "> Combe Down
Combe Down
Mine showing a tramway

Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines date from the 17th and 18th century when stone was extracted by the "room and pillar" method, by which chambers were mined, leaving pillars of stone between them to support the roof. The mine contains a range of mine features including well preserved tramways , cart-roads and crane bases. The walls and pillars of the mine are studded with pick and tool marks, and show evidence of the use of huge stone saws, all of which bear testimony to the variety of techniques used to extract the stone over the mine's three hundred-year history. No mine abandonment plans of either the tunnels or the caverns, known as voids, were made prior to the 1872 Mining Act. Following their closure, the mines were used for a variety of purposes, including a mushroom farm, and as an air-raid shelter during the World War II
World War II
Baedeker raids on Bath.


During the 1930s there was a recognition of a need to provide secure storage for munitions in the south of the United Kingdom, and a large area of the quarries around the Corsham
area was renovated by the Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers
as one of three major munitions stockpiles. This ammunition depot was serviced by a spur railway line from the main London
to Bristol line, branching off just outside the eastern entrance to Box Tunnel
Box Tunnel
. A portion of the underground quarry complex was developed as a 'shadow factory ' for aircraft engines, to act as a fallback should the Bristol Engine company Factory at Filton
be taken out of action by hostile bombing. In practice this factory was never used. The Operations Room at RAF Fighter Command's No. 10 Group Headquarters, Rudloe Manor (RAF Box), Wiltshire, showing WAAF plotters and duty officers at work, 1943.

In another part of the quarry area, Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
Box was established as the Headquarters of No10 Fighter Group , Royal Air Force . RAF Box was later renamed RAF Rudloe Manor and expanded to encompass a number of communications functions, including No1 Signal Unit, Controller Defence Communications Network, No1001 Signal Unit Detachment and Headquarters RAF Provost & Security Service. No1SU and CDCN were both housed in bunkers within the quarry complex, which also included an RAF Regional Command Centre for the South West of England.

British defence doctrine during the early Cold War
Cold War
period indicated a requirement for a fallback location for central government outside London
, to assume national control in the event of London
being destroyed. The quarry complex at Corsham
was chosen for this location and development of the site commenced in the 1950s. In the event of imminent nuclear attack , it was assumed that the government would be evacuated from London
by rail or helicopter . The facility would provide a safe haven for the Prime Minister , the Cabinet , commanders of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
, Royal Navy
Royal Navy
, and British Army
British Army
and supporting civil servants and military personnel. Facilities inside the complex included accommodation and catering for nearly 4,000 people, including a hospital , organic electrical generation and the ability to seal the complex from the outside environment, contaminated by radiation or other threat.

The defence facilities known by various code names like Stockwell, Turnstile, Hawthorn and Burlington have been built in quarries include Military Command & Control, storage and a fallback seat of national government. Some areas of the quarry complex were hardened and provided with support measures to ensure resilience in the event of a nuclear attack . The site was decommissioned and placed in a state of care -webkit-column-width: 30em; column-width: 30em; list-style-type: decimal;">

* ^ "Bath\'s \'foundered strata\' – a re-interpretation" (PDF). Physical Hazards Programme Research Report OR/08/052. British Geological Survey. 2008. Retrieved 14 December 2014. * ^ "Tales From The Riverbank". Minerva Stone Conservation. Retrieved 22 September 2015. * ^ "Royal National Hospital
for Rheumatic Diseases". Images of England. Historic England. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 24 June 2006. * ^ "St Stephens Church, Lansdown in Bath.". Minerva Stone Conservation. Retrieved 19 May 2008. * ^ "Claverton Pumping Station". Images of England. Historic England. Archived from the original on 10 November 2007. Retrieved 9 May 2007. * ^ Pearson, Michael (2003). Kennet & Avon Middle Thames:Pearson's Canal Companion. Rugby: Central Waterways Supplies. ISBN 0-907864-97-X . * ^ "Wills Memorial Building". About Bristol. Retrieved 19 July 2017. * ^ "Main Block and Flanking Wings at Royal Berkshire Hospital". Images of England. Historic England. Retrieved 26 November 2007. * ^ "Strategic Stone Study: A Building Stone Atlas of Somerset
and Exmoor" (PDF). English Heritage
English Heritage
. p. 17. Retrieved 11 October 2011. * ^ "Bath Stone Mines around Corsham". Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2008. * ^ "Prior Park, Bath, England". Parks and gardens UK. Parks and Gardens Data Services Ltd. Retrieved 9 June 2013. * ^ " Ralph Allen
Ralph Allen
Biography". Bath Postal Museum. Archived from the original on 7 June 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2009. * ^ Greenwood, Charles (1977). Famous houses of the West Country. Bath: Kingsmead Press. pp. 70–74. ISBN 978-0-901571-87-8 . * ^ "Phases Of Mining Activity". Combe Down
Combe Down
Stone Mines Project. Bath and North East Somerset
Council. Retrieved 22 September 2015. * ^ A B C " Combe Down
Combe Down
Stone Mines Land Stabilisation Project". Bath and North East Somerset
Council. 13 May 2004. Archived from the original on 17 January 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2006. * ^ Durman pp91-94 * ^ Hawkins, Derek (2011). Bath Stone Quarries. Folly Books. p. 9. ISBN 9780956440549 . * ^ "Box Mine" (PDF). Site of Special
Scientific Interest citation sheet. English Nature. Retrieved 22 September 2015. * ^ A B " Combe Down
Combe Down
Mines". Oxford Archeology. Retrieved 30 August 2009. * ^ Hawkins, Derek (2011). Bath Stone Quarries. Folly Books. pp. 11–12. ISBN 9780956440549 . * ^ "For sale: Britain’s underground city". Archived from the original on 11 January 2006. * ^ Corsham
Cellars Archived 31 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
Wayback Machine
. at Octavian Vaults corporate web site. Retrieved on 16 March 2008 * ^ Storage and Retrieval Archived 15 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine . at Wansdyke Security Limited website. Retrieved on 16 March 2008 * ^ "Site Name: Monkton Farleigh Ammunition Depot - Farleigh Down Tunnel". Subterranea Britannica. Retrieved 22 September 2015. * ^ "Brown\'s Folly" (PDF). Site of Special
Scientific Interest citation. English Nature. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2015. * ^ " Combe Down
Combe Down
Mines". ISSMGE: 5th International Congress on Environmental Geotechnic. Retrieved 13 July 2006. * ^ "The Derelict Land Clearance Area ( Combe Down
Combe Down
Stone Mines, Bath) Order 2002". Statutory Instruments HMSO, the Queen's Printer of Acts of Parliament. Archived from the original on 21 October 2008. Retrieved 13 July 2006. * ^ "The World\'s Largest Foamed Concrete Pour". Pro Pump Engineering. Retrieved 22 September 2015. * ^ "Over and out for last miners". Bath Chronicle. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2015.

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