skip to main content

History

The History of Cliffe Hill

For the geologist the story of Cliffe Hill goes back 500 million years. Commercially the name granite applies to any hard stone, while geologists restrict the term to a rock consisting of three minerals Quartz, Feldspar and Mica. Cliffe Hill stone is a true Syenite, comprised of pinkish Felspar and green Hornblende.

Cliffe Hill is situated on the southern edge of Charnwood Forest and has played a part in the progress of the county, country and local community for many years. The decision to re-open the quarry in 1891 had an immediate effect on the economic scene. It provided regular employment for local men and the purchase and maintenance of plant and equipment provide work for engineering firms growing in nearby Coalville and Leicester.

Time Line


1870’s

Quarrying begins by Mr Jones and Mr Fitzmaurice of Birmingham

1881

Jones and Fitzmaurice stop working Cliffe

1891

J.R.Fitzmaurice acquired the quarry from his father and reopens Cliffe Hill.

1891

Mr P.Preston joins the company as manager on a salary of £3 per week.

J.R.Fitzmaurice

J.R.Fitzmaurice

Mr P.Preston

Mr P. Preston

First office

First Office

1891

10,000 tonnes per year produced

1892

The first major contract was secured for quarter inch clean chippings for the Patent Victoria Stone Company

1892

A steam traction engine was ordered and arrived in November at a cost of £469. This was used to facilitate the transportation of stone to Bagworth Station some 2.5 miles away.

steam traction engine

Steam Traction Engine

1893

Due to the success of the previous year another steam traction engine was ordered.

1893

The first large blast in excess of 1,000 tonnes of rock being brought down. Today (2011) we would expect a blast to bring down approx 20,000 tonnes

1894

The company gained its first railway contract for 5,000 tonnes.

1894

The Cliffe Hill Granite Company was formed.

1896

Construction of the Cliffe Hill Mineral Railway begins, with the first locomotive delivered and working by the end of the year. This was constructed due to the increased interest in the company’s products and the inadequacies of the traction engines.

Sidings

Cliffe Hill Sidings

Signal Box

Cliffe Hill Signal Box

1898

Office electrical plant installed to replace carbide and oil lamps.

Crushing Plant

Crushing Plant

Loading for crusher

Loading for crusher

Looking at quarry yard

Looking at quarry yard

Quarry Surveying

Quarry Surveying

1901

Book keeper and shorthand typist employed.

1902

Installation of a concrete slab making plant.

1911

Film unit makes a promotional film of the quarry.

1912

Rockside Stone Company formed to sell non premium products.

1913

Brick office building constructed to replace wooden shed.

Head Office

Head Office

1913

Mr P.L.Preston joins the company as Assistant Manager.

1914

Mineral railway track used for testing by Bagley Cars locomotive builders of Burton.

1914

First articulated lorry purchased able to carry 10 tonnes and travel at 8 miles per hour.

1914

Transport garage, weigh house and weighbridge built.

1923

Crushing plant installed.

Crushing Plant

Crushing Plant

1923

1924

Mr P. Preston retires and joins the board of directors. Mr P.L.Preston becomes quarry manager.

1924

New washed plant installed to speed up the method of producing the now in demand washed aggregate. The system doubled the output

1924

Electrification of the works takes place.

1926

Largest contract to date, 30,000 tonnes for, Leicester Corporation Sewage Works at Beaumont Leys.

1927

A new primary crusher was purchased and installed and after a seven month wait a new gyratory crusher was imported from America.

1929

Cliffe Hill sports club formed. By the summer 2 cricket and football teams existed.  The company gave 2 fields for use by the club and built a pavilion.

1931

Cliffe Hill wins local area quarry methods and practice competition.

1933

A new Venture as the production of garden ornaments began but ceased only 2 years later.

1934

Cliffe Hill sports club disbanded due to a more frequent bus service to Leicester.

1935

Cliffe Hill Granite Company purchase the freehold of the quarry and surrounding property from the original founder J R Fitzmaurice

1937

A new tarmacadam plant was erected in the quarry and the old tar plant at the sidings was dismantled

1938

First electrical shovel purchased

1939

Holiday pay introduced First paid holiday taken in August 1939

1939

Entire stock of slabs sold for use in military camps. Vast amounts of material supplied for runways and ammunition factories.

1941

The company obtained permission to use German and Italian prisoners of war their work enabled the company to continue on a reduced scale.

1942

Mr P.Preston the founder manager passed away in 1942. He served the company for 51 years, 33 as manager and 18 years on the Board of Directors.

1945

Mr Peter McHugh Preston returned from active service and took up the position of Quarry Manager, the third member of the family to serve in that capacity.

1946

Installation of a primary crusher on the quarry floor. The rail system was replaced using road transport. The ten inch gyratory crusher was replaced by a four and quarter inch Nordberg cone crusher. Two tarmacadam plants were removed and replaced by one tarmacadam plant with increased capacity.

Aerial Photo of Cliffe

Aerial photo of Cliffe Hill

Truck Crane Bucket

Truck Crane Bucket

1948

Cliffe Hill Mineral Railway Line abandoned in favour of road transport.

1949

The original founder Mr J.R. Fitzmaurice passed away

1949

The company embarked on a new product (Ready Mixed Concrete). The first plant was installed at Markfield and shortly after another site was acquired in Leicester.

1950

The company was a founder member of the British Ready Mixed Concrete Association.

1953

A large modern Asphalt plant was installed to meet increasing demand.

1954

Mr P.L. Preston passed away after serving the company for 42 years. His Son Mr Peter McHugh Preston was appointed as Managing Director

1959

First electronically controlled batching and loading system installed to further enhance company performance.

Mayor at Cliffe

Mayor at Cliffe Hill

Interior Weigh Bridge

Interior Weigh Bridge

1960

First employee annual family day. Typical jaunts were to Skegness and London.

Day out 1961

Annual Family Day

1961

Ready Mixed Concrete business sold.

1961

Mid Norfolk Gravel company purchased.

1961

Radio Telephone communication system installed.

1961

Longest serving employee Alf Swain retires after 63 years service.

Alf Swain

Alf Swain

1961

First edition of the “Markfieldite” issued. 14,000 copy monthly newspaper, for local villagers and employees

The Marketfieldite

The Marketfieldite

1961

Black Monday flu epidemic, 31 employees have the virus and fail to attend work.

1961

19 drivers win safe driving awards.

1961

Cliffe Hill Granite used in the construction of Leicester’s first multi-storey carpark at Lee circle.

Lee Circle

Lee Circle

1963

Worse winter in 16 years saw Cliffe Hill at a stand still for a month.

1963

Cliffe Hill Granite used in the construction of the local M1 section.

1963

Death of Mr P.Mc.Preston MBE at 42 years. Ending a 72 year association between Cliffe Hill Granite and the Preston Family.

1964

The company now consists of Cliffe Hill Granite and 7 subsidiaries.

1965

The Cliffe Hill Granite company was acquired by Tarmac Roadstone

1965

Major redevelopment work commences including installation of a new primary crusher. The largest in the UK at the time

1968

Installation of an additional coating plant.

1971

1,000,000 tonnes per annum produced.

1973

Third coating plant installed.

1974

Semi automatic loading point installed at the rail sidings allowed rapid loading of rail wagons.

1978

Further extension and landscaping of the quarry commenced.

1980

New Cliffe Hill (Stud Farm) planning application prepared.

1983

New Cliffe Hill (Stud Farm) planning application granted.

1988

New Cliffe Hill (Stud Farm) opens for business

1989

Cliffe Hill (Old) Quarry closes after 98 years.

1997

Cliffe Hill becomes part of a joint venture between Tarmac and Hanson under the banner of Midland Quarry Products.

2002

Primary Crusher re-sited in New Cliffe Hill and connecting conveyors installed. This exposed reserves under original Primary position and positioned for extraction at deeper levels.

2002

Permission is granted to build a tunnel between New Cliffe Hill and Old Cliffe Hill.

2002

Secondary Plant Quaternary crusher type changed to increase yield of smaller size chippings required in the changing Asphalt recipes.

2002

Additional Cone crusher (XC10) installed and secondary crusher bypass “Grizzly Feeder” installed to increase Secondary Plant feed rate.

2002

Cornish Miners commence work on the tunnel from Old Cliffe Hill.

2003

Australian miners commence work on the tunnel from New Cliffe Hill.

2003

Tunnel break through and official opening.

Tunnel engineers with plaque

Tunnel Engineers with Plaque

Tunnel with dumper

Tunnel with dumper

2003

M.O.T. (Type 1) production and stock out facility added to Primary Production Route.
Previously this product was blended from Secondary processed aggregate.

2004

Scalpings Wash Plant built in response to increasing Scalpings Stocks resulting from the 2002 introduction of the “Aggregates Levy.

2005

Resumption of production at old Cliffe Hill after lying dormant for 16 years.

2006

The Quarry’s dated ‘GEM 80’ hard wired control system completely replaced by a PC bases ‘Allen Bradley” Scada system and “Fibre-optic” network.

2006

Quarrying ceased at New Cliffe Hill.

2007 - 2009

Focus was on the construction of Wednesbury Asphalt Plant and the evacuation from Edwin Richards Quarry including the demolition.

2009

Demolition of Screening Plant and associated Conveyors at Whitwick Quarry.

2009

Complete replacement of aging control system on both the Marini and Quadratech Asphalt Plants.

2010

Installation of conveyors, associated hoppers and feeders along with storage sheds for the introduction of RAP to the Marini and Quadratech Asphalt Plants.

2010

Load & Haul Contract returns to an "In House" operation.

2011

Construction of Storage to provide the weather protection of imported sands to minimise moisture content thus maximise energy efficiency.

MQP Collect & Go.
MQP Collect & Go

Small Contractor & Home DIY Project services including delivery or collection of asphalt and aggregates for construction and driveways.

more