Some notes on the industries of Purbeck.

The title above suggests 'notes' and that is all these are. An extensive history of Purbeck industrial history would require several books - well beyond the scope of a few web pages! This then is a skeleton list of those which have interested me over the years.

The stone industry:

Purbeck stone is well known world-wide for its uses both in building and in structural decoration. When polished, it presents a beautiful and interesting finish. The types of stone from Purbeck are many - from differing beds and fit for differing uses, from headstones, table-tops, roof slabs and of course stone walling. Swanage, Langton and Acton are riddled with old passages from the time when most stone was won underground. In modern times, stone is almost exclusively worked from the top down by excavation.

ug quarry       Left:
       Friends explore an underground quarry at Swanage,
       near the caravan park.

       The remnants of a capstan used to haul stone from underground.

Other extractive industry includes Chalk and Marl from the hills and clay mining. Clay was
dug in various locations around Purbeck for many years. It's usage included not just the
usual pottery, but it can also appear in face-powder and toothpaste!
The clay industry was supported by a variety of narrow gauge railways. The pictures below
show clay trains which were also used for carrying people in the Rempstone area.

clay 1clay.2

Modern industry:

Whilst the industries mentioned above are still active and thereby also 'modern', I mention here a couple of newcomers; Nuclear and Oil. The nuclear industry was well represented on the Winfrith site of the Atomic Energy Authority. Now a minimal amount of nuclear work is carried out there, mainly de-commissioning work. Parts of the site have been demolished, whilst some buildings have been refurbished for non-nuclear work - QinetiQ formerly the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency being a major new tenant. Sadly, the vast amount of research work carried out at Winfrith would appear to have been wasted, since the British government now looks overseas for nuclear technology.

The later arrival in Purbeck was the oil & gas extraction carried out in an exemplary manner by BP Exploration. Although the major reserves of oil and gas are now reduced, walkers in the Rempstone area may still find themselves coming across the treatment plant and an assortment of 'nodding donkeys' around the heath and forestry.


'Nodding Donkeys' in operation on the Wytch Farm field.

Note the extensive channeling to catch any oil spillage. BP are notable in their care for the landscape, archeology and environment.