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Herm Granite Quarry

Some years ago I assisted the late Reverend Roy Fenn in writing the history of Ronez quarry for a Parish magazine article this turned into a booklet, and a follow on “Quarrying in the Channel Islands” It is a vast subject and has not been that well recorded apart from magazine articles and limited mentions in some  larger works. When undertaking research I came across the accounts of quarrying in Herm which is a fascinating account. The major works on Herm were started by Colonel John Lindsay he supplied 300,000 tonnes of stone for London some was said to be used in the building and maintenance of the following places: The Embankment (a claim every Channel Island seems to have, including Chausey), the steps to St Paul’s Cathedral (Guernsey?), and King William’s Steps, Cheapside. Colonel Lindsay also lobbied to be allowed and financed to employ a 1,000 convicts, and build a breakwater on the east side of the island a mile and a quarter in length, this he did not manage as he died around 1826. I think it was him that lived on the island with his wife whilst his mistress managed the quarry works. In 1830 Jonathan Duncan formed a partnership with Geoffrey Martin, and Ebenezer Fernie under the trading name “The Herm Granite Company”.

In Alderney amongst others there was the quarry at Cachaliere managed by Matthew Rowe and Thomas Mitchell (his son Godfrey Way Mitchell 1891-1982 went on to  acquire and develope the firm of George Wimpey). The quarry is also commonly known as Chicago due to the owner making his wealth in that American City. There is little information or history of this site that I am aware of, there are pictures of it as a working quarry and notes of an accident there that killed three of the workers, a common occurrence in Channel Island quarries in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Back to Jersey I have come across a number of places where quarrying has taken place, I am not aware of why or for where these areas were used, they may have been for local Napoleonic towers, local piers, or even exported especially as Jersey vessels often struggled to find ballast when leaving the island and is one of the reasons there was such a large cider industry in the island as this served as an export product.

If one follows the coast from Belcroute in St Aubin’s Bay there are signs all the way along the coast including Noirmont, Portelet, Le Fret, Ouasnie, Beauport, La Rosiere, and Petit Port. The following are photographs of the quarried stone:

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Noirmont stone that has been drilled and split

 

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Quarried stone Beauport (by Gros Tete)

Pictured above marked stone: these niches would have wooden wedges inserted into them and when they became covered by the tide the wood would expand and the stone would hopefully pop apart in a clean break.

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Beauport stone with drill holes

I am not sure why some stones had splits and others were drilled, I presume it may have been the way a stone could be predictably split, this drilled stone having some seams with the holes through them. Modern day a hole would have a feather and wedges inserted in each hole and these would be worked with a heavy hammer.

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Wedged stone at Le Fret

There is little evidence of quarrying at Le Fret, but once one gets to the beach at Ouasnie there is considerable evidence of quarry works including cobbled tracks, I presume stone from here would have been transported by boats to the building

You tube clip of splitting stone:

 

Island wiki Quarrying in Jersey:  http://www.theislandwiki.org/index.php/A_history_of_quarrying_in_Jersey

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