Tarmac’s Mountsorrel Quarry has discovered that national treasure Sir David Attenborough is a fan of the Charnwood region’s unique pink granite.
The team at the quarry heard of the connection via BBC Radio Leicester presenter Ben Jackson, who had recently interviewed the Leicestershire-born broadcaster for his mid-morning show. During the discussion, Sir David credited his study of the rock with helping him earn a scholarship to Cambridge University. He also spoke of a prized collection of Mountsorrel granite samples he used to own +before donating them to the University of Leicester’s geology department when it was founded in 1951.
On learning that Sir David no longer had a sample in his possession, Ben contacted Tarmac to ask if a piece of pink Mountsorrel granite could be sent to him.
“It was definitely one of the most unusual and exciting requests we’ve received at the quarry,” says Trevor Warren, works manager.
“We were thrilled to hear of Sir David’s interest in Mountsorrel granite and jumped at the opportunity to send him a sample.”
A large piece of granite was carefully selected and polished to allow Sir David to see its special geological features. Tarmac then invited Ben to the quarry to collect the sample and find out more about its work on site.
“The sample was much larger than Ben was expecting,” says Trevor, “but we wanted to make sure Sir David could appreciate the rock properly, given his obvious passion and enthusiasm for the region’s geology.”
While on site, Ben had the opportunity to visit different areas of the quarry, including the primary crusher, asphalt plant and railhead at Barrow-upon-Soar. An account of the visit was aired on his radio programme shortly afterwards.
“After Ben’s visit, we sent the sample to Sir David the next day with some information about the history of Mountsorrel Quarry,” Trevor explains.
This week, the team received a letter from Sir David thanking them for the granite, which he described as “magnificent” and “superb”. The letter also included more about his experience studying the local geology, including details of where he discovered garnets in the region – the crystals often found in metamorphic rocks, such as Mountsorrel granite.
“I’ve been a keen geologist all my life and, like many people, have enjoyed Sir David’s work,” says Trevor.
“I never thought I would have the opportunity to correspond with him directly, especially over something as close to me as Mountsorrel. It’s a real privilege to know that despite travelling the world far and wide and seeing some amazing sights, Sir David still remembers the unique and special qualities of our Mountsorrel granite.”
Tarmac’s Mountsorrel Quarry supplies granite to major construction projects across the UK. The quarry lies at the heart of Charnwood’s historic granite-quarrying communities and employs over 100 people from the surrounding local towns and villages.