About

Mountsorrel Quarry

Where Is Mountsorrel Quarry?

Background

Mountsorrel Quarry is a granite quarry operated by Tarmac and located between the villages of Mountsorrel and Quorn in the Charnwood district of Leicestershire.

The quarry supplies granite to construction projects across Leicestershire, as well as the wider midlands and east of England. The quarry is an important to the local economy and currently employs 149 people, 90 per cent of whom live within a 10 mile radius of the site.

 

History

Granite quarrying has been at the heart of communities in Charnwood for at least 250 years and has been carried out in one form of another since Roman times. The first known site in Mountsorrel was located at the present day Castle Hill area in the village.

It was not until the second half of the 18th century, however, that quarrying began in earnest, meeting new demand for building materials during a construction and road-building boom.  The advent of the turnpike road system meant granite was in high demand to make cobblestone setts, kerbs and chippings.  In 1758 the quarries at Mountsorrel won a contract from the Harborough to Loughborough Turnpike to surface roads in the area.

Initially stone was transported by horse and cart but in 1794 the cutting of the Grand Union Canal allowed carriage by barge.  In the 1800s quarrying continued to flourish.  The Mountsorrel Granite Company, run by the local Martin family, was formed in 1854 and operated four sites – Broad Hill, Hawcliffe Hill, Nunckley Hill and Cocklow Wood.

Mountsorrel’s unique, pink granite was in great demand – so much so that it became clear a more efficient form of transport was necessary.  Following an act of Parliament in 1858 to build an extension to the Midland Counties Railway, Broad Hill Quarry became the first industrial operation to have its own branch line and sidings at Barrow-upon-Soar.  The famous 1860 bridge was constructed to carry the line over the River Soar. By 1863 the line was carrying 200 tonnes of granite per day.  A further branch line was opened in 1896 linking to the Great Central line.  Three distribution channels were now available: road, rail and canal, helping the company widen its market and significantly boost business.

The industry flourished and by the early 20th century around 600 workers were employed at the four sites producing up to 250,000 tonnes of aggregates a year, including setts, blocks and chippings.  The 1920s brought increased demand for bulk aggregates and with it, greater mechanisation and productivity.  By 1935 around 300,000 tonnes of materials were being produced every year but new methods of roadbuilding heralded the end for the granite sett and production ceased in 1936 while kerb production ended in 1940.

In the 1960s Redland Roadstone bought the Mountsorrel Granite Company hailing a new era of development and investment.  Broad Hill quarry ceased production in 1967 with operations then concentrated on the Cocklow Wood area adjoining Wood Lane ( the location of the present primary stone surge pile).  Then in the early 1970s larger scale quarrying began in a new area of Buddon Wood – the site of today’s Mountsorrel Quarry.  This major development included the installation of one of the world’s largest rock crushers which has stood the test of time and is still being used today.

As demand for construction materials rose throughout the 1970s and 80s production increased to reach a peak of 7.8 million tonnes in 1989, making Mountsorrel the largest granite production site in Europe at that time.

The site provides work for more than 149 local people, 90 per cent of whom live within 10 miles of the site.  It contributes millions of pounds into the local economy through wages and purchase of support services.

We operate the largest rail distribution network in Leicestershire, allowing fast, efficient and sustainable transport of material across the country, including important markets in the south and south east which have no hard rock reserves of their own.

Quarry Facts & Figures

Mountsorrel Quarry is operated by Tarmac, the UK’s leading building products and construction solutions company.

The entire Mountsorrel site extends over approximately 494 acres.  The quarry itself covers 167 acres and currently reaches a depth of around 120 metres below sea level.

Currently, annual production is just over four million tonnes, and the permitted end date for operations is 31 December 2033.

The site provides work for more than 149 local people, 90 per cent of whom live within 10 miles of the site.  It contributes millions of pounds into the local economy through wages and purchase of support services.

We operate the largest rail distribution network in Leicestershire, allowing fast, efficient and sustainable transport of material across the country, including important markets in the south and south east which have no hard rock reserves of their own.

In January 2014, we submitted a planning application to Leicestershire County Council to extend the site’s lifespan by seven years, to enable us to access additional reserves to meet national and local demand for granite – see the Our Plans section for more information.

Transport

Approximately 60 - 70 per cent of the aggregate produced at Mountsorrel – about three million tonnes – is supplied by rail through the sidings at Barrow upon Soar. This is more than any other quarry in the region. 

Mountsorrel Quarry is a vital facility for Network Rail for the supply of track ballast for the ongoing construction and maintenance of the national rail infrastructure. Around 1 million tonnes of granite is supplied to Network Rail each year for its purpose.

The rest of the quarry output is delivered by road to serve local demand via Granite Way, a dedicated road constructed in 1990 as part of the A6 Trunk Road bypass works. This enables traffic from the quarry to get onto the major highway network without passing through the village areas.

The quarry supplies several different sizes of stone suitable for all kinds of construction including use in coated roadstone and concrete.  The versatility and durability of Mountsorrel’s granite - its distinctive pink colour - adds to its appeal.  Our quarry also plays an active role promoting recycling by reprocessing  material recovered from highway maintenance repair contracts so that it can be re used in new coated road stone products. 

Landmark Projects

Mountsorrel produces a type of granite that is nationally important because of its versatility and durability. The stone has been used in major local projects, and recently including the construction and resurfacing of the A46 Trunk Road, the widening of the A453 from the M1 into Nottingham and the extension of the Nottingham tramway.  It also provides materials, including readymixed concrete and coated road stone for local housing and highway schemes.

The stone also continues to be used as a distinctive local building stone for the repair and maintenance of existing buildings in the surrounding local villages.

Nationally the stone is widely used in large scale infrastructure projects for roads, railways, airports and public building programmes. 

Planning

On Friday 13 March 2015, Leicestershire County Council’s Planning committee unanimously granted planning consent for our proposal to extend the quarry  The decision will enable the company to extend the life of the quarry for a further 25 years, accessing stone reserves and preserving local jobs.

We propose to expand Mountsorrel Quarry to the north, with a 8.36 hectare (20.6 acre) extension to the extraction area. Although there are around 85 million tonnes of permitted granite reserves at the quarry, only about 22 million tonnes (around four years’ worth) are readily available. This means we had to seek planning permission for the next phase to continue operations over the next two decades.

The proposal involves moving the primary crusher and stone pile from their current elevated position on the quarry rim, to below the lip of the quarry. We will replace the old equipment (which was built in the early 1970s) with new, modern versions that are quieter and better designed. A significant additional benefit is that the new crusher and stone pile will be enclosed, and the new linking conveyor belt will be covered. This, combined with relocating the equipment, will significantly reduce noise and dust levels. In addition, dumper trucks will no longer need to use the roadways around the quarry rim.

The new equipment will also be less visible for the majority of residents, reducing visual impact for homes close to the site. Our plans also include moving the quarry offices, workshops, lorry and car park.

More details can be found by visiting the Our Plans page