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The Devonian Sandstone quarries of Ruiton and Upper Gornal were used extensively to build local churches, houses and the like, this yellow sandstone is particularly hard and of a resilient quality for building work.
Smaller pieces of sandstone would be ground down and were equally useful for scouring, etc.
Most of the local nineteenth century Gornal and Sedgley churches and chapels were built using Gornal Stone, as was the Windmill and other dwellings, particularly around Ruiton, where many of these buildings and houses have survived.
"At Cotwell End and Gornall, excellent grinding stones are dug: those at the latter place possess a coarser grit, and are generally used for setting thick-edged tools."
Staffordshire General and Commecial Directory, 1818]
"In South Staffordshire is a white or yellowish stone known locally as 'Gornal Stone' which is worked at Upper Gornal, near Dudley. The stone is ground and used for 'cupola sand'.
The finest grades are sold as 'best white sand' for gasworks and for use as scouring sand.
At the base of the Gornal stone is a so-called ganister, which is ground and used for wall-plastering and for lining blast furnaces"
[Sands and Crushed Stone by Alfred B. Searle, 1923]
Quarrying at Ruiton looking from Hill Street.
John Price postcard c1905 (CDM Collection).
Many of the older buildings have been lost, but stone walling alongside roadways can still be found almost anywhere in the district.
Several sand and stone merchants were based around Ruiton, later some of the companies were also involved in road haulage.
All quarrying at Gornal and Ruiton has now ceased.
The Quarry off The Holloway.
This photograph was taken from the quarry just off Holloway Street looking towards Hermit Street and Ruiton Congregational Church in 1923.
In the foreground, the derelict crushing stone that was used to grind small fragments of sandstone into sand
The Church and school buildings can be seen in the background.
Bagleys Quarry, Gornal.
Primitive sand crushing at Bagleys Quarry c1910.
A group of Quarrymen at Bagley's c1910.
The above photos were taken from a 1950s magazine publication, accredited to George E. Underhill and accompanied with the following explanation.
Horse-drawn grinding wheels and quarrymen 50 years ago at Bagley's Quarry, Gornal, Staffordshire, where the golden sandstone, in thin beds. was quarried with pick and lever. The two wheels, about 5 ft 6 in. across, ground to sand the stones two small for other uses. The old cry "Gornal Sond, Gornal Sond, I'll gie thee a good 'arporth an' a bit in the 'ond", recalls the local practice of swilling the house through once a week from front to back and sprinkling the floors, when dry, with sand.
N.B. 'arporth' means 'ha'penny worth', halfpenny in pre-decimal currency.
"Stupidity was described as having "Gornal Ears" or "Gornal long-ears" The woman of Gornal used to travel long distances selling scouring sand, which was put up in bags like long bolster cases. There was a slit in the side like an old-fashioned purse. A twist was given to the middle of the bag to make it secure, and two sides hung down evenly on either side of the donkey.
A donkey was called a "Gornal Cuckoo."
Part of an article entitled "Black Country sayings" by J. Lees Taylor published in Birmingham Gazette, June 1930
All of the quarry workings in and around Gornal and Ruiton would have employed the same primitive methods as the pictures illustrate, stone that was considered too small for building, were crushed down using the large cast iron or stone wheels, drawn around a central pivot by horses.
The larger particles for road building, etc., and the fine sand was highly regarded and peddled around the district.
It is believed that the pictures of Bagley's quarry were taken around 1910, and the exact location is not known at this time, the Bagley family were landowners and yeoman farmers in the Dudley and Gornal area, and 'Bagley's Farm' was situated on the rise at the top of Milking Bank, the lane became part of Dibdale Road when that was renamed from Graveyard Road.
It is thought that the quarry was near to the Farm on the Milking Bank side of Bagley's Lane.
Stephen Bagley also quarried stone in 1940s Gornal, however his quarry may not have been connected with this spot.
A red Sandstone was quarried from the Straits, near Gordon's Place.
Hartlands Quarry, Ruiton.
1884 trade advert
Henry Hartland lived at 8 Hermit Street in the Census records for 1861-1891, in the 1861 Census his address is given as the 'Three Furnaces Inn', Hermit Street, Upper Gornal.
Harpers Quarry, Upper Gornal.
Harper's quarry was located on the western slopes of Vale Street, towards the Ellowes Hall coach road. Quarrying ended some time in the 1960s.
The entire quarry has now been infilled and built over with modern housing along a new street 'Old Quarry Drive'.
"Garden Stone supplied, £3 per two tons. C.O.D.-Joseph Harper, Upper Gornal Quarries"
The following report from the Staffordshire Advertiser, 19 February 1870.
"FATAL ACCIDENT AT QUARRY-On Thursday evening week four men were at work at Messrs. Burton and Waterfords [Waterfields] quarry, Upper Gornal, in removing the "Bearing"-the loose rubbish-on the top of some rock, when a large quantity unexpectedly fell and precipitated them to the bottom of the quarry, a distance of ten feet. A man named William Walker was killed on the spot. Three other men were seriously injured."
In 1880, Joseph Horton Waterfield, William Henry Waterfield and Benjamin Waterfield of Upper Gornal were trading as Waterfield Brothers, Stone and Sand Merchants.
A view of the Clent Hills across the overgrown quarries off Holloway Street.
W. Rollason, Ruiton Street, Lower Gornal, closed in 1971.
They quarried the lower part off Holloway and Ruiton Street extending down to near the The Chapel House pub.
William H. Rollason, living at 65 & 66 Ruiton Street, was descibed as a Sand Seller. [1901 Census]
1924, William Rollason, sand merchant, Ruiton St. [Kelly's Trade Directory]
1940, W. Rollason (Gornal) Ltd., Sand Merchants, Ruiton Street. [Kelly's Directory]
David Hyde, Ruiton, quarrying took place south of Hermit Street/Rock Street before the 1880s and appears to have been depleted by the 1950s.
The family also ran a sucessful haulage business, the company David Hyde Limited was wound up in 1959.
A Country wide Geological survey report of 1920 gives an account of the Upper Gornal quarries, particularily that of David Hyde.
Mr. David Hyde, Pale Street, Upper Gornal.
Quarries: Cricket Meadow Quarry situated about 1/4 mile south-east of Ellowes Hall.
Holloway Quarry, about 400 yards west of the above and adjacent to Ellowes Hall.
The rock is sandstone near the base of the Middle Coal Measures and is known locally as 'Gornal Stone'. The quarry shows the following sections:-
Overburden of sandstone rubble about 6ft.
Sandstone, light-yellow, thick bedded 18-20ft
'Ganister'; a grey thin-bedded soft clayey sandstone seen to 3ft.
The rock is quarried in several lifts, and steam drills and explosives are employed. The quarry yields several products, the overburden is ground under edge-runners and sold to some of the firebrick makers.
The Sandstone itself is similarly ground for the production of 'cupola-sand' of two grades.
Fine sand is sold as best white sand for use in gas-works, a small quantity of ground sandstone is sold for 'scouring sand', which is hawked about the neighbourhood.
Large blocks of the stone are dressed for use a furnace hearths.
The so called 'ganister' is ground for wall plastering, and some of it for lining furnaces
At the Holloway quarry, the section is similar but shallower, the sandstone is somewhat yellower and the 'ganister' being inferior in quality is not worked.
In 1951, Grainger & Worral, casting and pattern makers, moved from Clarence Street, Upper Gornal to Hydes Quarry, Rock Street where they continued their expansion.
The 1911 Census indicates that William R. Mason was a Sand Merchant with own quarry in Ruiton Street.
Pigots Directory of 1835 list the following quarry owners of Upper Gornal.
William Turton Fereday.
Joseph Saunders & Son.
Melville's Directory of 1851 lists, Upper Gornal.
Samuel Saunders, Stone Quarry owner, Upper Gornal.
In Robson's 1839 directory he is listed as a Quarry Master, Ruiton.
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