From Festival Hall to the M1: Dene Quarry
Dene Quarry was opened in 1942 to supply the lime needed to refine sugar beet, but was also found to be a source of excellent decorative stone which was used in many important buildings, including the Royal Festival Hall.
The construction of the M1 in 1966 saw the quarry concentrating on aggregates and the opening up of the two sides of the narrow Dene Hollow. With the closure of nearby Middlepeak Quarry in 1991, production at Dene rose to 1.7 million tonnes annually.
Stone from Dene was also used to neutralise acid waste waters from abandoned collieries and in the concrete linings for the Channel Tunnel.
In the quarry, holes are drilled on benches (rock shelves), to a predetermined pattern. The holes are charged with explosives which, when detonated, break up the stone. This is then carried to the processing plant in dumpers, where it is crushed and sorted into sizes ready for customers. Some of the stone is mixed with bitumen to make road asphalt and some with cement, to make concrete. The rest is sold unmixed.
The long term restoration plans of this large quarry site involve the creation of a ‘daleside' landscape when working is eventually completed.