Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Brincliffe Edge Rock

An extensive exposure of Brincliffe Edge Rock

When exploring the Porter Valley leg of the Sheffield Round Walk in the spring of 2017, it had originally been my intention to take advantage of one of the leaflets available through the Sheffield Area Geology Trust and visit the old quarries on Brincliffe Edge in Sheffield; however, due to problems with the buses on the day, my plans had to be shelved. 

Brincliffe Edge Rock and dry stone walling on Psalter Lane

As the Chairman and the principal surveyor for the South Yorkshire RIGS Group, I spent a considerable amount of time as a volunteer – with the occasional paid contract – raising the profile of geology in the county. The survey work that I undertook enabled me to get to know the principal building stones in the region much better, which was of benefit to the professional work that I undertake as a stone identification and matching’ specialist – a skill that I first developed when establishing Triton Building Restoration Ltd. in London. 

An exposure of Brincliffe Edge Rock in the Omega Restaurant car park

In August 2005, Planning Policy Statement 9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation came into force and placed a legal obligation on local authorities to take into account geological sites during the planning process. 

The old quarry face in the Omega Restaurant car park

Doncaster MBC took the bull by the horns and paid for the British Geological Survey to undertake a resurvey of their RIGS for the Local Development Framework, with myself being temporarily employed  to do the survey work and relevant report writing, but the other authorities have never shown any desire to follow suit and, at best, continue to ask volunteers to do their work. 

A sculpture in Quarry Head Lodge

Although still available to advise on such matters if the need arises, I have since taken a backward step with respect to geological conservation in South Yorkshire and my visit to Brincliffe Edge, in the first week of April this year, was undertaken purely for my own continuing professional development and personal pleasure. 

Rock bolts in the quarry face at Quarry Head Lodge

In the same way that “Rotherham Red” sandstone is the local name given to the locally distinctive variety of Mexborough Rock, Brincliffe Edge Rock, which was once called “Brincliffe Blue”, is a variation of the Greenmoor Rock - whose type locality is in the village of Green Moor, which is found approximately 15 km to the north-west of the Sheffield suburb of Banner Cross. 

A detail of the Brincliffe Edge Rock at Quarry Head Lodge

The old quarries around Brincliffe Hill once produced thousands of tons of grindstones, building stone and gravestones, but they have long since been closed and, except for the car park to the Omega restaurant – now largely overgrown with ivy – have been redeveloped for housing. 

The redeveloped John Gregory Brick Pit on Ecclesall Road

The measures beneath the Brincliffe Edge Rock/Greenmoor Rock – as also seen at Neepsend to the north of Sheffield city centre – were also once widely exploited to make bricks and, when I finished my brief exploration of the old sandstone quarries, I followed the distinct escarpment down to Hunters Bar, where the scar left by the John Gregory Brickworks can still be seen.

A view of a back garden on Ecclesall Road

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