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Brookman's Quarry, Tormarton

By David Pollard

Bath stone, or freestone, meaning free working stone, is a Jurassic age oolitic limestone used for building purposes. It was, and still is quarried around Bath in north Somerset and Wiltshire, it was also dug on a much smaller scale along the eastern fringe of South Gloucestershire. Dug by both surface and underground workings, underground quarries were classified as mines under the Metalliferous Mines Act of 1872 and subsequent Acts, it is a legal definition. Here they are referred to as quarries, which is what they have always been known as. In South Gloucestershire the Bath Stone beds are at shallow depth and were mainly worked on the Badminton Estate in Tormarton and Old Sodbury parishes to supply a very local market.

The earliest known reference to quarrying in Tormarton is 4th March 1793 when James Gingell was killed "in consequence of a certain quantity of Earth & Rubbish falling upon his Body as he was raising Stone in a certain Quarry in the Parish of Tormarton".

Brookman's Quarry in Tormarton is an underground one, it is pencilled on a map of the Manor of Tormarton dated 1763, and is thus of later date. Thomas Brookman a farmer worked it up to 1863, from 1864 it appears to have been worked by the Badminton Estate, digging continued up to 1916 when the quarry closed. In the summer of 1936 the Bath & Portland Stone Firms Ltd sunk a shaft in the floor of the quarry in order to test the nature of the stone at a greater depth, the Badminton Estate paid £25 towards the cost. The work was done by Owen Bishop, a well known Corsham ganger. The gang included Ted Gibbons of Gastard who died in the early 1990s, he was the last man to work underground at Tormarton.

OS Map of Brookman's Quarry 1890

Surface Details of Brookman's Quarry from 1890 Ordnance Survey Map

Tormarton stone was used for the restoration of Acton Turville Church in 1853, for the new font and the pillars and arches which separate the Aisles from the Nave and the corbels supporting the roof. A new font was supplied to West Littleton church in 1856.

The quarry is basically an inclined roadway type where the hauling road descends from the surface down to the floor of the quarry where the head of stone was undermined by pillar and stall workings. The freestone is wedge bedded i.e. the strata is inclined, unique features include the remains of a very early loading crane and mixed gauge wagon ruts. The square 1936 trial shaft is still there.

Tormarton quarrymasters and quarrymen:

CensusNameAgeOccupationBirth place
1841Thomas Blackmore40Stone Mason 
1851Thomas Blackmore45?QuarrymanWilts, Hullavington
1841Thomas Brookman50?Farmer 
1851Thomas Brookman67Farmer & QuarrymasterWilts, West Kington
1861Thomas Brookman77(Quarryman) Master Employing 4 MenWilts, West Kington
1841Robert Gay29Stone MasonGlos
1861Robert Gay50Underground QuarrierPucklechurch
1851Joseph Knee19Freestone LabTormarton
1881William Silverthorne53Stone Quarry LabTormarton
1891Stephen Strange46Lab Stone Quarry MinerTormarton
1901Stephen Strange Soft Stone LabourerTormarton


Lists of Men Employed:

Tormarton [Brookmans] Quarry
Lists of Mines under the Metalliferous Mines Regulations Acts
YearNo of MenNotes
 below groundabove ground 
1894-- 
1895--worked occasionally for private use only
 
18982- 
18992- 
190011 
190112 
190212 
190321 
190430 
190521Duke of Beaufort c/o Cowper Coles
19063- 
19072- 
19082- 
19092- 
19102- 
191122Duke of Beaufort c/o Wilfred Markham Badminton
191222 
 
191522 
 
1921  not listed

Mineral Statistics:

YearProduction
1885none
188794 tons


Hades Inside Brookman's Quarry 1999

Hades Inside Brookman's Quarry 1999

Brookman's Quarry underground pictures by Richard Gledhill (Hades Caving Club Trip) 1999 with consent from Land Owner. NB - These Quarries are NOT open to the Public.


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