During the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods between about 200 and 65 million years ago, Oxfordshire lay under a relatively shallow and warm sea full of coral growth and other animal life. Sea levels rose and fell during this time and about 110 million years ago the area was flooded with sandy sediments known as Greensand. The deep sedimentary deposits of limestone, sands and gravels left behind as the continent rose and drifted northwards are highly sort after by the building, construction, landscaping, decorative and leisure markets.
Quarries to extract these materials have been and still are plentiful in the area, particularly between Faringdon and Stanford-in-the-Vale. There are a number of small ancient quarry sites, now absorbed within the expanding town such as the ‘Old Clay Pit’ that is now a pond in Faringdon Country Park, shown here on a section of a map from 1910 and in the photo
There were also two ‘Gravel Pits’ in the area just beyond where the school is now up Fernham Road. One of them was used as a land-fill site for a while and is now part of the Fernham Gate housing development, with some houses actually in the steep-sided hole. Another up Sandhill Lane called ‘Faringdon Pit’ was still in use until recently by Rogers Concrete Ltd. A small ‘Gravel Pit’ off Coxwell Road has now disappeared under the Coleshill Drive housing estate. Among others, shown on a larger map, are an ‘Old Sand Pit’ before the bypass up the Stanford Road and an ‘Old Quarry’ off the London Road opposite Sudbury House. There are also three large working quarries on the Stanford Road towards Stanford-in-the-Vale.
Roger’s Concrete used to occupy an old quarry situated on Sandhill Lane on the town side of the new A420 bypass. In 1958 the company was started by Brian Rogers, who realised there was a demand for reconstituted paving slabs. As well as the sale of general sand, gravel, stone and cement; slabs and other products were quarried and hand-crafted on-site. They ceased to operate on this site in 2018 and moved to Pioneer Road, off Park Road as a retail only company. Originally intended for industry, the site is now currently awaiting housing development.
Wicklesham Quarry, a large commercial quarry lying on the southern side of the A420 bypass and accessed from the new Wicklesham Farm exit has been active since the 1950s on the original site of a small gravel pit that has been there for much longer. The site grew a lot bigger but by 2015 had become exhausted and left largely to nature. Enforcement action was taken against Grundon Sand & Gravel Ltd in 2016 when they repeatedly failed to comply with planning conditions to restore the site to its original agricultural use. The restoration required recreating a fertile soil bed in the quarry base using the original topsoil, and preserving the fossil-rich walls and naturalised plant and wildlife. The site Is designated as a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ for its unique fossil records. It is known to contain a very rich and unusual assemblage of over 150 species of fossils, including rare sponges, many of which are known to occur only at Faringdon. It also has fossil reptiles – turtles, ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and crocodiles. The mature ponds at the base of the quarry, rare habitats known to contain great crested newts, have since been filled in, and vegetation stripped. The base of the quarry has now been completely levelled and grassed over, with one small pond at the side. Faringdon Town Council’s neighbourhood plan has earmarked the area for industrial use as a business park.
Faringdon Quarry. In 2015, Grundon Sand & Gravel Ltd opened a new quarry a little to the west of the old Wicklesham Quarry with access from Fernham Road. It includes a concrete batching plant, which is a set of equipment used to make concrete on a large scale.
Bowling Green Quarry is located on the A417 Stanford Road a few miles south of Faringdon and has a range of operations and products. The quarry produces a dry-screened sand plus several grades of crushed or screened rock. The quarry also offers a tipping operation for inert materials.
Hatford Quarry produces a comprehensive range of limestone products, including clean stone and sub-bases. It also produces a high quality building sand and screened topsoil.
Shellingford Quarry (photo top of page) is situated further down Stanford Road just before the village of Stanford-in-the-Vale. A large site producing a full range of both primary and recycled aggregate and building sand. Also available is quality screened topsoil. On the opposite side of the road is the local land-fill and recycling site.