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Miscellaneous

LMS Route: The Shakespeare Route

Warwickshire's Industrial Railways

Ettington Limestone Company

Very little information exists on the Ettington Limestone Company. What we can deduce is that the quarry was an opportunistic enterprise taking advantage of the railway's Goldicote cutting and the railway's desperate need to generate revenue. John Jennings, archivist of the SMJ Association, states the Ettington Limestone Company traded between 1905 and 1916 generating 'useful revenues' for the East & West Junction Railway'. The quarry and limestone works were situated on the north side of the East & West Junction Railway's single line track approximately three-quarters of a mile from Ettington station. From the photographs seen below we can ascertain that the quarry was designed to be accessed from the eastern end of Goldicote Cutting. At this point, as can be seen in image 'smjel100', the ground immediately adjacent to the railway is ten to twelve feet above rail level which meant once the overburden was removed the narrow gauge line used to transport the limestone was of a height sufficient for the narrow gauge wagons to be tipped into the standard gauge wagons positioned alongside.

The quarry was formed by the simple process of the cutting being widened to one side of the E&WJR line. Because the strata of limestone followed the natural contour of the surrounding area it rose up towards the track bed within the cutting. The further into the cutting the deeper the cutting and therefore the limestone became more accessible without the need to dig deep holes. Because this method of excavating the quarry meant there was no physical barrier between the two enterprises, the E&WJR was compelled to produce boundary markers (see image 'smjel220'). These were required to clearly mark the boundaries between the two companies. Such demarkation was important not just because of the need to ascertain which company was responsible for the maintenance of its section of the line and siding, but because each enterprise was subject to different parliamentary legislation which was overseen by different government departments with different rules, regulations, responsibilities and possible penalties. The available evidence strongly suggests the quarry was not a large enterprise being limited to only a fairly short section of land on one side of the cutting.

It has been suggested the quarry was much larger, extending into the surrounding fields and subsequently backfilled to the original agricultural profile. This is extremely unlikely for a number of reasons not least because the cost of such an operation would have significantly outweighed the value of the land reclaimed. In addition, the volume of material needed would have been enormous and unlikely to have been available locally. When comparing the configuration of the two stone quarry buildings seen one behind the other in image 'smjel99', with that seen in image 'smjel192' it is quite apparent that the two buildings were parallel with the railway. As the photographs were taken very early on in the enterprise it can be seen the material behind the two buildings had yet to be quarried. Examination of the 1921 Ordnance Survey map (published 1924) which records the quarry after closure, shows the final size of the quarry is indeed not very large nor did it encroach into the fields to any great extent. This is also supported by examining the satellite image taken in 2014 which shows the location of the stone buildings in relation to the quarry at closure. The excavation is now overgrown, as is the cutting, and is clearly not a massive undertaking.

The facilities at the quarry comprised an exchange dock at the eastern end of the cutting, where the stone was transferred between the narrow gauge track to the E&WJR, and sidings. This consisted of a single siding running more or less parallel with the E&WJR's line as it proceeded towards Clifford Chambers, whilst in the opposite direction and at 90° to the E&WJR's line were two short sidings, both fitted with buffer stops, and located in a field behind a gated entrance. Image 'smjel100' shows the exchange sidings and 'smjel189' the siding running parallel to the E&WJR line. The crushing plant was located approximately half way along the cutting as it exists today. Goldicote cutting was some sixty feet deep and presumably it was when it was being originally excavated that the limestone was first exposed although it was decades later before any effort to extract it was to occur. The benefit of the quarry to the E&WJR would appear in all reality to be marginal but such was the state of the railway's finances, anything was obviously considered to be better than nothing. In essence the extraction of the limestone was only economic because it was effectively subsidised by the railway company. Mike Christensen in his booklet Signalling of the SMJ states that the siding was closed after the SMJ withdrew the preferential rate which the quarry owners had previously enjoyed. Clearly it couldn't stand on its own two feet otherwise. John Jennings notes 'the LMS had removed the connection by 1928 in their general tidy up of the line in the late 1920s'. It's interesting to note that on all photographs there is no evidence of branding, either as the Ettington Limestone Company or as the Goldicote Quarry.

The quarry was worked throughout its working life by horse rather than by steam traction, not only because the quarry was small and its output very low, but as the photographs show, the narrow gauge track around the buildings was too lightweight to have carried the weight of even the smallest 0-4-0 locomotive. A reference in Arthur Jordan's book on the SMJ supports this view as he describes that 'in 1910 a horse wandering on the line through an open gate caused the derailment of a cattle truck' the damage costing £70. The use of a horse would also provide the necessary motive power for both narrow and standard gauge traffic. The siding running adjacent to the E&WR's single line appears to be laid with light weight short section flat bottom rail which are fixed by spikes to unballasted timber sleepers. The two short sidings behind the gated entrance would appear to be at a higher level than the siding running adjacent to the E&WJR's single line. It would therefore be possible for empty standard gauge wagons to be stored on the two short sidings (wheels suitably chocked) and when required, released to run under gravity into the exchange landing dock to be loaded. John Jennings also notes that 'there were special arrangements for collecting loaded trains from the sidings so as to eliminate the risk of run away unbraked trucks down the nearby Godicote cutting'.

View of the exchange facilities between the limeworks and the E&WJR located at the east end of Goldicote cutting
Ref: smjel100
G Freeston
View of the exchange facilities between the limeworks and the E&WJR located at the east end of Goldicote cutting
Close up showing four of the side-tipping wagons standing on the loading bank siding in Goldicote Cutting
Ref: smjel100a
G Freeston
Close up showing four of the side-tipping wagons standing on the loading bank siding in Goldicote Cutting
Close up showing the gated entrance protecting the two short sidings, both of which are fitted with buffer stops
Ref: smjel100b
G Freeston
Close up showing the gated entrance protecting the two short sidings, both of which are fitted with buffer stops
Looking along the E&WJR's line to Ettington station with the limestone exchange facilities in the distance
Ref: smjel189
G Freeston
Looking along the E&WJR's line to Ettington station with the limestone exchange facilities in the distance
Close up of the limeworks' exchange facilities and the undulating unballasted trackwork of the siding
Ref: smjel189a
G Freeston
Close up of the quarry's exchange facilities and the undulating unballasted trackwork of the siding

Men from the crushing plant pose with their bicycles with the E&WJR main line in the foreground
Ref: smjel192
G Freeston
Men from the crushing plant pose with their bicycles with the E&WJR main line in the foreground
Close up of some of the narrow gauge side tipping wagons as some of the workmen prepare to go home
Ref: smjel192a
G Freeston
Close up of some of the narrow gauge side tipping wagons as some of the workmen prepare to go home
G Freeston<BR>The brick built crushing plant and the narrow gauge tramway provided to move the limestone
Ref: smjel99
G Freeston
The brick built crushing plant and the narrow gauge tramway provided to move the limestone
Close up showing the three side tipping narrow gauge trucks and the narrow gauge flat wagon
Ref: smjel99a
G Freeston
Close up showing the three side tipping narrow gauge trucks and the narrow gauge flat wagon
An East & West Junction Boundary Marker used by the company at Ettington Limestone Quarry
Ref: smjel220
J Jennings
An East & West Junction Boundary Marker used by the company at Ettington Limestone Quarry

A six inch to the mile 1921 OS map showing Ettington Limestone Quarry sited immediately adjacent to the railway
Ref: smjel221
National Library of Scotland
A six inch to the mile 1921 OS map showing Ettington Limestone Quarry sited adjacent to the railway