Friday, 31 October 2014

Stoneway Manor

The old Green Moor Quarry RIGS

Having given my best advice to Hunshelf Parish Council, in respect of Green Moor Quarry, there were no further enquiries until, in 2011, I received a telephone call from Shepherd Homes, requesting contact details for the Sheffield Area Geology Trust (SAGT), which had incorporated the now defunct South Yorkshire RIGS Group into their organisation.

The notional bill for the professional work that I had undertaken to develop this group must have run into very many thousands of pounds, with very little personal financial gain and, by this time, I had made the decision to concentrate on my English Language Services instead.

However, once the developer knew about my work at Green Moor Quarry, I was commissioned to provide a geological report, in support of a detailed planning application to build Stoneway Manor, and my interest in geological conservation was once more revived. 

Excavations and Trial Pits

By the time I arrived to survey this site once again, the old Rock Inn had been demolished and various trial pits had been excavated, to determine both the nature of the substrate beneath the car park and next to the old quarry face.

A Boundary Fence
Although the old quarry face was still predominantly overgrown, a close examination of the rock exposures visible showed the Greenmoor Rock to be pervaded with fractures and, in the uppermost sections, the thin beds had been opened up by the physical and biological weathering processes that are associated with the formation of the soil horizon.

The spur of rock that had formed the main part of the exposure seen in 1996 had partly disintegrated.

Where accessible from the mound of quarry waste that lay beneath the quarry face at its lowest part, the line of the site boundary – along which the fences of overlooking houses were set – appeared to comprise unconsolidated rock waste and soil. On the whole, the quarry face did not seem to be very stable.

The Green Moor RIGS
Having taking into account the requirements of the planning legislation to develop a site containing a RIGS, the developer was keen to carry out essential work to enhance the geological features of the site.

With the agreement of the planning authority and SAGT, it was considered only necessary to undertake cleaning work to a 14m long section of the old quarry face, which nominally constituted the Green Moor Quarry RIGS.

I have always had doubts about this particular site being conserved for its geological value, especially since I had seen a much better example of the Greenmoor Rock in the village 5 years earlier, and I strongly defended the position of the developer when it was suggested that a viewing point should be specifically made, for the general public to see this site.

A compromise was made, in respect of the position of the detached garage that was laid out on the original site plan, and which partially obscured the RIGS. It was agreed that the garage should be incorporated into the house instead.

Stoneway Manor

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Short Walk Around Green Moor

Green Moor

Although there is no longer a public house in Green Moor, which was always a good reason to stop in the village, whilst exploring this part of South Yorkshire, there are very many other interesting things to see. Several guided walks have been published online, but here are just a few of my observations – as a geologist.

The Village Stocks in Green Moor
The village stocks, along with the dry stone wall behind it, are good examples of the use of Greenmoor Rock, for which this place is very well known - there are several old quarries, mostly infilled, dotted around the village.

The stocks are set outside Ivy Millennium Green, where there are views across the River Don – a mere trickle compared to its flow further downstream, where it once powered the heavy industries of Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster and took the Greenmoor Rock down to London. 

Ivy Millennium Green

The various dips and scarps, as seen in the skyline, outline the Carboniferous geology found in this part of South Yorkshire - and there is also a small war memorial plaque.

Across the road, in the village garden, there are two well produced information boards which describe the old industries that have made this area prosperous - quarrying stone, making iron, steel and other related products - and there are also good views of the Upper Don Valley.

The old pump house, which supplied the village with its water until 1951, forms part of the Stoneway manor development; however, it is still worth seeing, before following the footpath to Green Moor Delph.

A direction finder at the Isle of Skye Quarry
It is owned by Hunshelf Parish Council, with playing fields, seating areas, established paths and solid, well constructed steps that lead you towards the Isle of Skye Quarry - now a nature reserve.

Along the way, you can see a lot of heather, which gives such a strong character to this area, when it is entwined with the underlying rocks. Here, I saw my first ever wild snake in England, as it slithered through the long grass and disappeared into the dry stone wall - in a blink of the eye.

As part of the environmental improvements to the village, the dry stone walls have now been restored and, using the direction finder, the spectacular views from the edge of the escarpment - looking over Stocksbridge and to the Peak District National Park  - can be fully appreciated.

A view along the escarpment at Hunshelf Bank

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Green Moor Quarry

The Green Moor RIGS on the Hunshelf Heritage Trail

As part of their activities, the South Yorkshire RIGS Group highlighted the best geology in the county and linked to other environmental and educational initiatives but, as often happens with voluntary organisations, their continuing development is dependent on the passion and hard work of a few individuals. Once the support of key members from the local authorities had been withdrawn, the impetus of the group was lost and, by 2001, it was effectively inactive.

In 2006, still being nominally the Chairman of the group and the sole point of contact for the very occasional enquiries, mainly from large companies who wanted information for free, I was very surprised to receive a phone call from the parish council in respect of Green Moor Quarry.

The Green Moor Quarry RIGS - 1996

The Rock Inn public house had closed and, having been purchased and with a planning application made to build houses on the site, I was asked to offer some advice on the protection of the RIGS. Having just received copies of “Geological Conservation – A Guide to Good Practice", “Local Sites – Guidance on their Identification, Selection and Management” and Planning Policy Guidance 9 through the post, which address biodiversity and geological conservation in the planning system of the UK, I was intrigued and thought that it might lead to some work.

Green Moor Quarry - 2006

It had been ten years since I had visited this site, which at the time was mostly overgrown, except for a large projecting spur of rock that formed the only example of Greenmoor Rock that had been identified in the village. On a sunny August day, the old quarry face appeared even more overgrown than before but, now that the current legislation required some enhancement of the geological features - as part of any redevelopment - I thought that it might be possible to clear the area around the rock spur and provide public access along the rock face, behind the estate.

Green Moor Delph

Unknown to me, the parish council had taken the initiative to mark some of the points of interest around the village with bronze plaques - as part of the Hunshelf Heritage Trail. When walking around the village, I discovered Green Moor Delph, another old quarry that was owned by the parish, with playing fields, well established paths and seating areas. It also has an old quarry face that provides a much better example of the Greenmoor Rock than the Green Moor Quarry RIGS.

Thursday, 16 October 2014


A View of North Cliff Quarry

On Day 2 of the XP School “Rock On!” project - having decided that we would visit North Cliff Quarry instead of Barnburgh Crags - the first task of our group was to choose the best approach.

The easiest way is to park and then walk along the path next to the school playing fields; however, Marc decided that it would be good exercise to take the students on a much longer route that was previously unknown to me.

Arriving at the edge of the quarry face, and seeing only long wild grass, I made my way around and down to a place where Marc then directed the students down a much steeper path.

Looking up to a height of several metres, I walked halfway up to demonstrate that it was safe and, taking great care, they proceeded down the path one by one and then found a place to sit down and listen to further instructions. 

Making our way to the base of the Permian reef, walking on a large rocking stone, we found a place where we could all get comfortable and I then explained the various geological features at this site – before they started drawing. One boy wanted to know why he couldn’t just take a photo with his mobile phone and one or two weren't too keen but, in general, everyone was very enthusiastic with this task.

A plant spray
The uneven and sloping ground didn’t provide enough space for the students to undertake the measuring tasks themselves, so this was undertaken by Marc and me. Standing at the bottom of the outcrop, I spoke too loudly with my measurement and, quite remarkably, my very accurate figure of 5.7 metres appeared on many drawings that I saw – despite instructions that they should be estimated with a ranging rod.

When they had finished their annotated drawings, we explored the rock face, looking at variations in the lithology and beds that are packed full of tiny fossil shells. Here, I used a water spray to highlight the details of the rock, when looking at it with the naked eye or hand lens, but some students seemed more interested in the crickets and spiders' webs.

A geological map of Conisbrough
After finishing the tasks in the quarry, we stopped briefly to look at the surrounding topography and the limestone escarpment that stretches to the north.  With the aid of a 1:50,000 geological map, which none of the group had seen before, I pointed out our position in Conisbrough and briefly explained that, here, the Rivers Dearne and Don converge - before cutting through the limestone escarpment to form the Don Gorge.

The Permian reef at North Cliff Quarry