BATH STONE is an oolitic limestone comprising granular fragments of
calcium carbonate . Originally obtained from the
Combe Down and
Bathampton Down Mines under
Combe Down ,
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
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
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 (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
Bath stone was taken from the Bath
Oolite Member and the
Combe Down Member of the Chalfield
Oolite Formation, part of the Great
Oolite Group .
USE AS A BUILDING STONE
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.
Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases
Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases , which was
founded in 1738, was designed by
John Wood the Elder
John Wood the Elder , and built with
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
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.
Bristol Cathedral was built of Bath Stone, and the Wills
Tower, which is the dominant feature of the
Wills Memorial Building
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 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.
London , the neo-classical Georgian mansion
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 , 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
Other mansions which have used Bath Stone include:
Gatcombe Park ,
Goldney Hall ,
South Hill Park
South Hill Park ,
Spetchley Park .
In 2002 the East End of
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 and Bathampton Down
Mines , in Somerset; and as a result of cutting the
Box Tunnel , at
various locations in
Wiltshire , including Box and
In the early 18th century,
Ralph Allen promoted the use of the stone
in Bath itself, and demonstrated its potential by using it for his own
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 which carried the stone down
the hill, now known as
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
Underground extraction of Bath Stone continues in the
but on a smaller scale than previously. For example, Hanson Bath ">
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.
OTHER USES OF STONE MINES
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 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
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
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 period indicated a
requirement for a fallback location for central government outside
London , to assume national control in the event of
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
London by rail or helicopter . The facility would
provide a safe haven for the Prime Minister , the Cabinet , commanders
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force ,
Royal Navy , and
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
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:
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* Queen Anne
* Strawberry Hill Gothic
BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES
* Abbeys and priories
* Medieval cathedrals
* Former cathedrals
* Roman villas
* Historic houses
* Hall houses
* Renaissance theatres
* Listed buildings
* Church monuments
* National Trust properties
* Hindu temples