When searching for points of interest online, we came across a photograph of a stone mine where the stone is not quarried on the surface but underground. We already knew there was a stone mine like this in Italy, but the photographs showed a different type of stone. This stone quarry is located on the Isle of Portland in the south of Great Britain, the stone is oolitic limestone.
The Isle of Portland lies in the English Channel and is part of the Dorset County. The bedrock of the island is formed exclusively by limestone. The island is 6 km long and 2.4 km wide. Although it is listed as an island, there is a narrow isthmus connecting it to the British mainland.
Limestone quarrying on the Isle of Portland dates back to antiquity when the Portland limestone was used to make sarcophagi. In the 11th century it was used to build a royal castle for William II (also known as William Rufus). From the 14th century the Portland limestone was used in the construction of many buildings in London. The long history of limestone quarrying on the Isle of Portland is still evident as there are more than 80 quarries on the island, some of which are still in operation.
Since 1930 the Portland limestone has been mined by a private company Albion Stone in two mines: Jordans and Bowlers.
Jordans mine first opened in the 19th century as a quarry. Majority of the stone in the deposit is located under the local cricket club and school tennis courts. To prevent damaging the surface, today the stone is mined underground, which is also the only method of extraction permitted by the local geological authority.
The northern part of the deposit has been declared a nature conservation area, the so-called Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). That means that in order to protect the environment, pollution, noise and other potentially harmful effect must be eliminated in the mining process.
Bowers mine has been in operation since the 18th century. Today the mining takes place only below the surface. A new Bowers mine opened in 2015, making accessible vast stone reserves located under the school playgrounds south and east of the original Bowers quarry.
An interesting fact about the stone mining on the Isle of Portland is that the islanders do not use the word rabbit to refer to the animal, but prefer to call them bunnies. This is because in the past quarry workers believed that the mere utterance of the word rabbit can cause dangerous landslips in quarries.
Source: Kurier kamieniarski
Author: Dariusz Wawrzynkiewicz | Published: 24 September 2019