The Quarry
Before 1910
The Tithe Map of 1847 has a reference to two Chalk Pits in Lower Froyle which were a valuable source of lime for the fields around the village. One was at the top of Husseys Lane and is, today, known locally as The Dell; the other was near the top of Well Lane, on the left hand side, just below the modern day “Crest Hill Farm”.
The chalkiness of the soil was reflected in some of the field names, especially “White Croft” which would, in later years become The Quarry. We have no mention in the archives of payments for the chalk and it may have been paid for in kind by the farmers using it.
This is the first year we have a map (right) and photograph (bottom) to show the development of “White Croft”. At the top of the map, on the left hand side of Well Lane, you can see the “Old Chalk Pit”, while, just below field 154, you can see the start of the Quarry, labelled “Chalk Pit”. (The map is dated 1910)
Also, in the chalkpit you can see some lime kilns. The lump chalk (limestone) was burnt at temperatures around 1000°C to produce quicklime.
Around this time, with the coming of good road and rail transport, the practice of lime burning was in decline, and only very small amounts were produced for local use.
In the period up to the Second World War, the several chalk pits tended to be used for dumping the village’s rubbish.
The photograph, taken in 1912 from the slopes of Saintbury Hill, matches well with the map and shows the start of the quarry. Today it stretches up to the treeline on the top of the hill.
The Quarry 1910
The Quarry 1912
World War Two and beyond
On May 14th 1937 the quarry, originally owned by Francis Withers Westbrook, was sold to William Brownjohn, who, on October 22nd 1945 sold it to Daisy Rodway and Marfield Markham.
During the Second World War a radar controlled searchlight had been based in the quarry (see the full story here). This advanced technology required a fairly large contingent to operate and maintain it, and accommodation was built opposite the entrance to the quarry - although, due to the lack of a proper water supply, the troops were obliged to use the facilities at “Oak Cottage”, an event that has gone down in village history!
In the 1970s this accommodation was pulled down the the modern day “Searchlight Cottage” built in its place.
After the war, there was a great impetus to get the country working again, and, in 1947, an Interim Development Order (IDO) was issued by Alton Rural District Council to the Quarry Owners. This order would come back to haunt the village 43 years later.
Quarry LorryFrom then on the quarry was operated as per the IDO “.....for the winning of chalk” on a seasonal basis, with relatively small tipper lorries replacing the pre-war farm carts, delivering the chalk to local farmers. There were no washing facilities at the quarry and, in wet weather, Well Lane would become covered in chalk which would spread down the road. However, as there was relatively little activity, two or three lorry loads a day in the chalk spreading season, it was not a major problem.