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.


  1. Very interesting, Alan. But I'm afraid I can't help apart from providing a link in one of my postings. (A few people do still read my blog!)

    1. Worth a try Martin. More readers the better. Thanks


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