industry, and associated other transport and related service industries
have had an important role in the local economy for many years.
On a national basis quarrying has traditionally been probably second
only to agriculture as a source of rural employment. The industry
has been particularly important in the Mendip area since at least
1900. Just after World War I it was seen as an important means
of getting ex-servicemen back into work – this being a major factor
in the establishment of both Callow Rock Quarry by the Tiark family
and the expansion of Dulcote Quarry near Wells by Foster Yeoman.
In 1924, some 1824 people were employed in all quarries (plus
people working on the surface at mines) in the whole of Somerset.
This figure fell in the depression to 1268 in 1934, only to rise
rapidly to over 2000 by the onset of the Second World War. The
figure fluctuated throughout the 1940s topping 2000 again in the
early 1950s. Despite the growing number of operations, mechanisation
removed a large proportion of heavy manual tasks so that by the
late 1960s even with the considerable increase in output, about
1400 people were employed. Of these over 600 people were actually
engaged directly in quarrying, plus 350 in transport and 200 in
marketing and administration work. It was estimated that a further
1500 people were involved in other transport and related service
Detailed studies carried
out in 1993 (mainly focussing on the new county of Somerset) calculated
that there were 1846 directly and 734 indirectly related jobs dependent
upon the industry. At this time, output was 15.3 million tonnes,
providing 20% of the areas semi-skilled and unskilled local workforce.
This represented 6% of the total employment in Mendip District
Council area. Other research at this time put this figure at 2500
– but this probably includes 'downstream' industries such as concrete
works. However, the total range of skills is considerable and in
2003 one large employer identified 68 types of jobs associated
with the quarry ranging from farm manager to pilot and train drivers.
Although the industry is still male dominated, the number of women
in senior positions is growing.
The total economic value generated was estimated in the mid 1990s
at £150 million of which £40 million went directly into the local economy.