Town Quarry has its origins in the early 1800s when it was known as Burton Dean Quarry. It was earmarked to provide materials to make and repair the roads in the township. Other quarries were already being opened along Burton Dean to supply building stone for the rapidly expanding community.
Between 1801 and 1861 the number of people living in Kirkburton increased from 1,400 to 3,600 and there was a corresponding increase in the number of houses, as well as the construction of three mills and two Methodist chapels.
The stone in the quarry is recorded by the British Geological Survey as Kirkburton Sandstone and can be viewed from the Geology Information Board.
Burton Environment Group (BEG) is a local community group formed in 2004. It completed the work initiated by Kirkburton and District Civic Society and Kirklees MC in the 1980s to create a small park on the site of Carter Mill in Burton Dean, on the other side of North Road, where an information board can be viewed. BEG’s volunteers now maintain and improve greenspaces and public spaces throughout Kirkburton and Highburton.
The quarry and the village
The quarry has probably not been worked for over 150 years but it has had a number of uses since then. In 1855, to celebrate the fall of Sevastopol after a long siege during the Crimean War, an effigy of the great Russian Bear or possibly Czar Alexander II himself, was stuffed with fireworks, paraded through Kirkburton and Highburton on the back of a donkey, brought to the quarry and burned with great rejoicing. Later in the century, the quarry was proposed as a site for a Liberal Club and, for a few years in the 1890s, it was used for the Kirkburton Musical Festival – the “Gre’t Sing”- before the festival moved to the Cricket Field. In 1897, a “pleasure or recreation ground” was suggested to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
In more recent times, an attempt was made to develop a BMX track and the Parish Council Environment Committee initiated a planting scheme. The quarry has long been used as an informal playground by the children of the village. Burton Dean BMX Riders 1982 “The Northern Bear, the most disagreeable of all the known bears”.
The Track originally gave access to the quarry but is now an important link between the villages. Climb the path to the fork. Turn right for Dene Park, once the site of the Isolation Hospital, built in 1908, or left, passing the Geology Information Board, then up the steps to Savile Park, previously the site of Moxon’s Mill, built in 1950.
Kirkburton Sandstone – Burton Dean Quarry
The rocks in Burton Dean Quarry, which is known locally as Town Quarry, are sandstones. They are excellent materials for building and roadstone. The cliff faces were formerly a line of quarries.
In the Carboniferous period, Britain was covered in equatorial rainforest like the modern day Amazon Basin in Brazil. Branch and root fossils are sometimes found in boulders of local sandstone.
The stone in this quarry is called Kirkburton Sandstone and was formed 310 million years ago in the Carboniferous period by one or more large rivers coming from mountains to the north-east. Massive deltas formed when sand and mud, washed along by the rivers, was laid down in the shallow sea between mountain ranges. In time, the sediments were compacted into sandstones by the weight above them. This compaction caused the quartz sand grains to interlock, producing a very strong rock which is ideal for road stone and building stone.
The cracks in the rocks are called joints. They formed after the rocks were rigid. Movements in the Earth’s crust have created stresses which have broken the rock into blocks. The natural joints in the rock made it easier for quarrymen to extract the blocks of sandstone using crowbars.
Sand that has been washed by currents develops a distinctive curve shape. Fast-moving water channels cut into the sands of the river bed, causing scouring.