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Quarrying
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 and widely used by local brick-works where it's particular qualities in making fire-bricks was renown.
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]
"ANCIENT CRUSHER STILL IN USE - The ancient sand wheel is still being used daily at Gornal near Dudley, A woman is shown placing the sandstone on the bed, after which the huge stone wheel is drawn over it by a horse."
A press cutting from 1928.
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 and some had their own stone quarries which are detailed in their own pages (see menu), later some of the companies were also involved in road haulage.
All quarrying at Gornal and Ruiton has now ceased.
The following light-hearted article from the Dudley Chronical of August 1933 affirms how 'Gornal Sond' was acclaimed worldwide.
GORNAL SAND. Hitherto Gornal's claim to fame has been based solely on its inimitable dialect, but now it is once again basking in the limelight because it has just been revealed that considerable quantities of sand are annually exported from the village to the farthest flung outposts of the Empire. To send sand to India would be just as strange a procedure as sending coals to Newcastle, but nevertheless it is fairly frequently done.
And it is done because Gornal's sand has a special quality and makes it suitable for furnace work. It contains about 90 per cent of silica, and makes it capable of withstanding furnace heat. There is a popular story abroad in the village that on one occasion sand was sent the Egyptian desert. No proof of this can be found, but the story loses none of its interest or comedy as a result. It happened during the war when a balloon section of the old R.r.C. ran short of sand in Italy, and an indent was put in for a supply. Days went by without the request being fulfilled, and the squadron was ordered elsewhere, finally landing at a post in the Lybian desert. Meanwhile the sand was delivered to the Italian base, and was sent after the squadron, eventually to arrive at the Egyptian desert camp. It is a definite fact that Gornal still exports sand to places as far away as New Zealand and Australia, and before the war a lot was sent to France.
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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.
"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

A view of the Clent Hills across the overgrown quarries off Holloway Street.
Photo 2015.
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.
In the 19th and early 20th Century, Gornal was well know for it's Stone and Sand from the quarries at Ruiton.
Sand was a by-product from the stone quarries, where the remanent fragments of sandstone could be ground to produce a fine hard white sand which was widely used for scouring.
The grinding of sand was accomplished either by a wind powered mill or with huge grinding wheels which were pulled by donkeys.
Frederick William Hackwood, author of several Black Country books of the time..
In 1906 he wrote in the Sunday Mercury ....
..Gornal, once famous all over the country-side for its "lily white sand" wherewith the housewives of an older generation were wont to scour their pots and pans, their tables, dressers, and other kitchen utensils. It was in the distribution of this native product—obtained from the Ruiton quarries—that so many asses were employed.
Every day the donkey girls of Gornal used to set out to hawk this useful household commodity which they stuffed into long narrow bags that could be slung across the backs of their patient, unharnessed beasts, making each town and village through which they passed ring with the once familair cry of "Lily white sond, O!"
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A red Sandstone was quarried from the Straits, near Gordon's Place.
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