The Vault Regulars

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Rooley Moor, Ding Quarry Mystery.

 20th September 2023.

Going back many many moons into the depths of 2013, I did a walk which was a route on Rooley Moor, Hail Storm Hill and the abandoned Ding Quarry. Click HERE to take you there.

So it was more than a surprise when I received an email from Alan Parkinson.

Alan is a structural engineer and has more than a passing interest in the Ding Quarry area, with it's industrial architecture and wants to find out what the structures and marker posts were.

His email was very interesting and as you know I am a bit of a sucker for history of this nature, so I thought it might be beneficial to "everyone" if I used Alan's email and put his words into a blog post. Hopefully somebody who reads this can "shed" some light on the questions.

So here goes. (In Alan's words)

I recently came across an old demolished precast concrete building that lies on the eastern outskirts of Ding Quarry. The building is at grid ref 53.66466 N, -2.22244 E, or in OS speak SD 85399 18709. and is accessible from the old quarry access road off Rooley Moor Road at grid ref. 53.66228 N, -2.21769 E, SD 85712 18443.

Even though the building now lies demolished I have determined that it measured about 20ft x 10ft x 12ft 9 in high and probably dates from the 1940's. It is certainly not Victorian and therefore not associated with the quarry when it was working to full capacity. The building also had a pre-cast concrete roof with a heavily reinforced inset concrete topping and ash felt waterproofing. This was a substantial roof for such a small building, and it was clearly designed as a secure or blast-proof structure. See photos below.

Perhaps the building was associated with a Star Fish Decoy site during the WWII, but I cannot find any reference that Ding quarry was used as such a site although it cannot be ruled out considering it's proximity to Accrington Munitions Factory.

Ding Quarry ceased main operations in the 1920's but perhaps the quarry was operating during the war providing stone for airfield bases; was this building associated with a weigh bridge station? 

The building might have been used as an Orlit Post after the war, but it is not listed in the Royal Observer Corps database.

The height of the building at 12ft 9in puzzles me - it is unusually tall for a single story building; was it perhaps used for storage of tools or equipment or a generator house?
There are several dense concrete blocks strewn around in the vicinity of the building - these may have formed an external blast-proof wall or perhaps were simply used to "brick up" any openings after the building became redundant and before it was demolished.

One clue might be able to help is that there are a number of reinforced concrete marker posts close to the building (I have found 4 so far) that stand about 2 ft above the ground and are inscribed "BDWB", and there are also several pre-cast concrete planks (perhaps acting as trench covers) strewn on the ground locally; perhaps the posts marked the line of a service run which to to/from the quarry face about 100 metres from the building.

The posts appear to be simply marker posts - I have recorded several boundary posts up on the moors and all are either sandstone or cast iron. Perhaps "BDWB" stood for; -- Weighbridge Building; -- Water Board; -- Bomber Defence Warning Building; -- Builders Duct: -- etc. See photo of post.

BDWB Concrete Post

From my visual inspection, there is no evidence of any guttering or rainwater goods to the perimeter of the roof. This is not surprising for a building with such a small footprint - any surface water would simply be allowed to shed onto the surrounding ground, which is predominantly blanket bog. 

There are no openings in the pre-cast wall units - there is however a wide front opening, which is shown in the sketch above, and there are several pre-cast wall panels and RSJ's lying on the ground which possibly trimmed door and or window openings on the front elevation.

 There is no evidence that anything sat on top of the roof, nor fixings for racking or shelving on the inside of the pre-cast wall panels. 

There is no evidence of conduits or fixings for lighting or any other services on the underside of the roof slabs. I assume there was a concrete floor slab and that the wall units were built off some sort of foundation but this point is hidden by demolition debris. 

There is also no evidence of timber, brickwork, glass or asbestos amongst the debris. The fact that there are no roof openings probably disqualifies the building as an Orlit Post, but it certainly could be associated with a Star Fish Decoy site, perhaps as a fuel store. It certainly seems to shout out storage place, but for what?

I feel that the four marker posts etched with "BDWB" must hold the clue, if only we could figure out what they stood for.

All very intriguing.

When you consider everything above is within the last 100yrs when documentation had to be done, you would think it wouldn't be too difficult to find out the history. Alan and I would be very grateful if anyone reading this has any knowledge of the site and knows any more information that could clear up the mystery for us. It would be fantastic to get to the bottom of it.

For the record, previous contact has been made with Rooley Moor Neighbourhood Forum, The Valley of Stone, Greater Manchester Archeological Advisory Service and Rochdale MBC, but alas so far nothing is forthcoming from them.

So please don't be shy, if you just have a thought, an idea, anything at all, just leave a comment below.

Thank You.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

A bit of trivia fun.

 Wednesday 13th September. 

While I have been away I came across this old piece of equipment. Can you guess what it is? I have blurred out the manufacturer’s name so that it’s not too easy. 

Let’s see who gets it first. 

Friday, September 8, 2023

High Haume trig and Beacon circular.

 8th September 2023

On this humid and overcast day I thought we would do a bit of a hill. I hadn’t picked a complete days route before we set off but I had looked at the map for a way up to the trig point and Haume Beacon. High Haume has quite a bit of history that isn’t particularly obvious. It was a hill fort with a fosse no less, it was a medieval beacon and later it had lime kilns. It lies to the south of Cumbria in the outlying hills, north of Barrow in Furness. Probably one of the "fells" frequently overlooked except for the locals and the trig point baggers.

A quick walk along Askam’s Lots Rd brought us to the A595. This is the main road into Barrow and is a fast and busy road to cross. We waited for our chance then dashed across to the cycle way/walkway where we nearly got knocked down by a bike. That would have been ironic, but we survived. 

Not far down the trail we came across an old high brick wall. Standing back it looked very much like an old railway bridge and in fact the cycle way looked as though it could have been a railway also, but it was narrow, so maybe an old tramway. Something to investigate later. **

The curious brick wall.

**Within the red circle, the blue dotted line is the footpath we are on and not a tramway as I had thought, and the purple line is the old railway line which went from the numerous iron works just north of Dalton, to the furnaces in Askam and then through to Askam Pier. The bridge parapet is a remnant of that old line and would have closed in the 1930's..

My route left the track as we reached the old main road and we took a left passing Greenscoe farm. We were greeted by two goats, a dead rat and a lovely grey cat who wanted to walk the route with us. A gent sitting in a large window with views looking over the Duddon Estuary gave us a friendly wave as we passed.

The metalled lane soon became a land rover track and then as we gained height into what must have been a very old green lane. A footpath on the left had a fine gate and this would have been the main path  for the workers coming from Ireleth many years ago.


Our view today would be very different to what those workers would have seen a hundred yrs ago. It is very hard to even imagine. Surrounded by industry and chimneys, quarries, iron works, railways everywhere, blast furness's, lime kilns, brick works, smoke and noise.
The end of the metalled track and start of the green lane.
The view from the green lane today. (I wish I could find one from 100yrs ago as comparison)

At the end of the green lane we exit onto a fairly quiet fell road, no footpaths but we only had to walk 100 metres or so before a stile is reached back into farm land. Sticking to the right fence line and following a narrow path we had to seek out a couple of hidden stiles which brought us adjacent to the trig point. The trig point is on private land, there is no public right of way shown on the map. However it is close to the footpath and I think many locals use this route. We headed up to the trig point and then along the short ridge line to the "Beacon".

There isn't much to see today, an obvious hollow with surrounding mound. 
Then it started to rain and we didn't bring waterproofs as rain was not forecast. But it didn't matter as it only lasted 5 minutes.

One of the stiles we had to search out.
Askam Brick works, still in use today.
Almost at the trig point.
Flush bracket S5373. Bagged!

Some of the heavyweight watchers as we headed for the Beacon.

Stood on the remains of the hill fort, beacon and lime kiln!

To rejoin the right of way we headed off diagonally towards the telecoms mast where a gate was. In the way was another couple of heavyweights. One with no head so it seemed.

Big lad. Gave us no trouble.
The view from the telecoms mast and our route down towards a road in the centre of the photo.
A stile no longer in use. 
A stile which was passable today because of the fine weather but it would be a sinking feeling in wet weather. The cows had made a good impression.

The stile led to the A595 road which we crossed quickly again and walked through the pleasant village of Greenhaume. At a bench on the cycle/walkway we stopped for lunch adjacent to a bike fixing station. I had to have a look at what tools had been provided which inadvertently caused me to have a sore head as I bashed it on the 2 bars protruding from the top of the post. The bike pump was sadly missing, presumed stolen.

The bench badge which I assume to be Furness Abbey and a way mark of some route.

From the Bench and through a gate we headed towards the lake in view. At this point I hadn't the slightest idea where I was going or which route we were going to take. We had gone as far as I had "Planned" yesterday.

Through a very strange gate led us into farmland above the ponds of Park Farm. We stopped at the fence and pondered about where to go now. I knew we had to head off towards Black Combe but getting there took a bit of studying.

We took some time studying the map. A path went in front of Park farm then through he brick company which led to the A595. I didn't fancy that route but I wouldn't have minded having a look at Park Farm which looked very interesting from our high perch.

We decided to head south, follow the railway line towards "Thwaite" and the Dunes Hotel, then head towards Roanhead where I knew a path to get us back to Askam. 
A good track through sheep territory brought us out onto Park Farm road where Postman Pat passed us as he was to do numerous times over the next 45 minutes. The road is very quiet and we only saw one car. Then the noise grew louder as we passed under the A595 road bringing us to a level crossing. The signal box says South Park or was it Park South?

The lovely signal box was built in 1883 and all the interior mechanism, 17 levers, came from the Coniston signal box in 1962 when the Coniston line shut.
We crossed the level crossing and then had a pleasant country lane walk passed the unaptly named Dunes Hotel, neither in the dunes or on the coast. The hedgerows provided lots to look at and berries to eat. 
A short distance from the level crossing we had to cross the A590 which we timed just right as it wasn't busy. 

The Dunes Hotel.
A Matbro teleram 40 handler. Pivot steer and dates from around 1983. Looked like it had a Ford engine in it. 
A stile I wasn't going to try and get through.
No description required. 

A Grizzled Skipper.

We were now back to a track I knew. It is a permitted path and leads through the working farm of Roanhead. Thanks to the owners for allowing walkers to use this lovely route.

The path to Roanhead Farm
If only cameras could smell how wonderful this log store was.
I saw a tractor I had never heard of, but there again Chinese tractors are not popular in UK. Most are auctioned in Europe.
This one is a Luzhong 404. Hands up all those that have heard of it?
The path through to Askam is a fine route and it used to be the old Mineral Railway. Below can be seen how farmers used the remains.
A much longer day and post than I originally thought. I hope it isn't boring.

Here is the route we eventually trod. 12km.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Askam to Kirkby on the Cumbrian coastal way.

5th September 2023.

 Askam was quiet as the kids are not back in school until tomorrow. I started out with an aching ankle, not achilles problems, more like a slight sprain. 

Passing locals wished us good morning, all very pleasant as we headed down to the beach passed the local football ground, well manicured and neat.

The tide was well out, we checked the tables before we left to make sure. The Duddon estuary is huge, so big the camera struggles to represent just how big it is.

Numerous flocks of birds followed us down the beach, mainly Oyster catchers and Sanderlings with a few Skylarks and Pipits. Noisy gulls broke the silence as they vied for the scraps on the marsh.

The edge of the land has been eroded over the years but the council has tipped lots of demolition waste, bricks concrete, slag from the old iron works, most of it is now covered in sand but it's interesting seeing what you can identify. Recently I hear that an old iron ingot was found which is quite remarkable as the foundry here closed in 1918 but not demolished until 1938.

Lots of worked sandstone can be found which I would have thought to be rather an expensive waste product. I spotted a brick with the name AB Co. on it. This is from the Askam brick works whereas the majority of old stock brick came from Furness brickworks.

Setting off from Askam

AB Co. Askam brick company.

Good views North towards the Coniston range of mountains was had, but because of the unusual temperature, 25 deg C and the time of day the hills were quite hazy and didn't make for good photography. 

Approaching Dunnerholme rock I could see a good grassy path heading up to the top and so decided to get up there for the view. On the way up an old Limestone quarry is passed on the left which has now grassed over. It makes an ideal camp site for anyone backpacking the coast path although you would need to carry water.
To the right on a lofty perch, believe it or not is part of the golf coarse with well cut greens. A sign saying no public right of way meant we headed left towards the sea. The views are worth the little extra effort getting up here.

Dunnerholme rock.

View north towards the Coniston Hills from top of Dunnerholme rock.

View west towards Millom and Black Combe 

Hare bells still out.

Dropping down to Quarrymens cottages.

 A right of way heads east from the top of the rock and leads down to three small old cottages tucked away against the crags. As we approached a dog barked loudly, warning the occupier of our approach.
A chap called Graham lives in the middle one, a very friendly Canadian who we found out had worked in Papua New Guinea and was a big fan of the Tilley Hats that I was sporting. 
Graham is an effervescent sort and invited us into his cottage for a look round. They are old quarrymen cottages that have had very little done to them over the years. I didn't take any photographs inside as I thought it would be rude to ask. Grahams Tilley's had seen much wear and had been replaced as is the norm from the Tilley Company. He also had a winter Tilley, the likes of which I had never seen before. He also told us Tilley is now owned by the Chinese! Is nothing sacred?

After a pleasant 1/2 hr chat we bade farewell to Graham and Sally the dog and set off again across the fairway towards a marker fence and following a narrow grassy track to a stile and into the marshes proper. Graham had mentioned that there was 14 white topped marker posts which guide the walker through. We followed these until the route ran parallel with the Cumbria coast railway. 

A good path handrails the railway for the majority of the way from here to Kirkby although care has to be taken on a couple of short sections where large boulders have to be negotiated. The alternative to the boulders would result in very muddy boots and possibly legs too. I don't recommend the muddy option as we tried it on the return journey.

Mainly Canada geese with the odd stranger.

Kirkby station is a clean and tidy place with a pedestrian footbridge. It is a "request" train stop station. One of nine along the line from Barrow to Carlisle. You put your hand out just like you do when flagging a bus to stop.

On the east side of the station is the wonderful "Pams cafe". It isn't open everyday so if you fancy going there you will have to make it Sunday, Monday or Tuesday between 10.30am and 4.00pm. It's worth going.

Kirkby in Furness station, Sandside.

We were asked by two other walkers if we were going to cheat getting back to Askam by train! Absolutely not, even though after 7.5km my ankle was no better. After we finished our coffee and scones with butter, jam and real clotted cream we had to make a move.(So the 400 calories we had just burnt off was nicely put back on at Pams.) Thanks.

Our return journey was more or less the same as the outgoing journey except for a detour around the rock rather than up and over it. It turned out a surprisingly interesting route.

Along the railway line path I found a drilled piece of rock with copper mineral ore. 

Then I found what I think is a piece of Obsidian.

And to cap it all a fossil in the limestone rock of Dunnerholme. (Looks like a snail to me)

We came upon 2 lime kilns which had their flues filled in. There was not much to see and I haven't managed to find out much on the internet about the history of Dunnerholme limestone working. I would guess it had something to do with the local iron industry.

Lime Kilns at Dunnerholme. I wonder why they were shaped differently.

In the shade of the rock we stopped for lunch. A fine viewpoint looking straight up the Duddon towards Broughton In Furness. With the tide being right out locals made good use of the water and also to train their horses. A young girl with lots of patience and encouragement managed to get two horses into the deep sections of the river when at first they didn't want to go in. It was great to watch.

So apart from a walk back along the beach to Askam pier and spotting this huge jelly fish, that was our walk done. My ankle was still aching and we were both looking forward to a dip in the cold tub. It is a lovely walk, as most of the Cumbria coastal path is.

A 600ml water bottle to compare size.

Our route 15km. 5hrs including many stops.

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