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’sQuarrying begins by Mr Jones and Mr Fitzmaurice of Birmingham
1881Jones and Fitzmaurice stop working Cliffe
1891 - J.R.Fitzmaurice acquired the quarry from his father and reopens Cliffe Hill..

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..

Mr P.Preston joins the company as manager on a salary of £3 per week.
1891 - First office.

First office

10,000 tonnes per year produced
1892The 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..

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.
1893Due to the success of the previous year another steam traction engine was ordered.
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
1894The company gained its first railway contract for 5,000 tonnes.
The Cliffe Hill Granite Company was formed.

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.

1896 - Construction of the Cliffe Hill Mineral Railway begins..

Cliffe Hill Sidings

1896 - Cliffe Hill Signal Box.

Cliffe Hill Signal Box


Office electrical plant installed to replace carbide and oil lamps.

1898 - Crushing Plant.

Crushing Plant

1898 - Loading for crusher.

Loading for crusher

1898 - Looking at quarry yard.

Looking at quarry yard

1898 - Quarry surveying.

Quarry surveying

1901Book keeper and shorthand typist employed.
1902Installation of a concrete slab making plant.
1911Film unit makes a promotional film of the quarry.
1912Rockside Stone Company formed to sell non premium products.
1913 - Brick office building constructed to replace wooden shed..

Brick office building constructed to replace wooden shed.
Mr P.L.Preston joins the company as Assistant Manager.
1914Mineral railway track used for testing by Bagley Cars locomotive builders of Burton.
First articulated lorry purchased able to carry 10 tonnes and travel at 8 miles per hour.
Transport garage, weigh house and weighbridge built.
1923 - Crushing plant installed..

Crushing plant installed

1923 -Crushing plant being installed.

Crushing plant

1924Mr P. Preston retires and joins the board of directors. Mr P.L.Preston becomes quarry manager.
New washed plant installed to speed up the method of producing the now in demand washed aggregate. The system doubled the output
Electrification of the works takes place.
1926Largest contract to date, 30,000 tonnes for, Leicester Corporation Sewage Works at Beaumont Leys.
1927A new primary crusher was purchased and installed and after a seven month wait a new gyratory crusher was imported from America.
1929Cliffe 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.
1931Cliffe Hill wins local area quarry methods and practice competition.
1933A new Venture as the production of garden ornaments began but ceased only 2 years later.
1934Cliffe Hill sports club disbanded due to a more frequent bus service to Leicester.
1935Cliffe Hill Granite Company purchase the freehold of the quarry and surrounding property from the original founder J R Fitzmaurice
1937A new tarmacadam plant was erected in the quarry and the old tar plant at the sidings was dismantled
1938First electrical shovel purchased
1939Holiday pay introduced First paid holiday taken in August 1939
Entire stock of slabs sold for use in military camps. Vast amounts of material supplied for runways and ammunition factories.
1941The company obtained permission to use German and Italian prisoners of war their work enabled the company to continue on a reduced scale.
1942Mr 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.
1945Mr 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.

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.

1946 - Aerial photo of Cliffe Hill.

Aerial photo of Cliffe Hill

1946 - Truck Crane Bucket.

Truck Crane Bucket

1948Cliffe Hill Mineral Railway Line abandoned in favour of road transport.
1949The original founder Mr J.R. Fitzmaurice passed away
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.
1950The company was a founder member of the British Ready Mixed Concrete Association.
1953A large modern Asphalt plant was installed to meet increasing demand.
1954Mr P.L. Preston passed away after serving the company for 42 years. His Son Mr Peter McHugh Preston was appointed as Managing Director

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

1959 - Mayor at Cliffe Hill.

Mayor at Cliffe Hill

Interior Weigh Bridge.

Interior weigh bridge


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

1960 -  First employee annual family day..

Annual Family Day

1961Ready Mixed Concrete business sold.
Mid Norfolk Gravel company purchased.
Radio Telephone communication system installed.
1961 Alf Swain.

Longest serving employee Alf Swain retires after 63 years service.
1961 - First edition of the “Markfieldite” issued. 14,000 copy monthly newspaper, for local villagers and employees.

First edition of the “Markfieldite” issued. 14,000 copy monthly newspaper, for local villagers and employees
Black Monday flu epidemic, 31 employees have the virus and fail to attend work.
19 drivers win safe driving awards.
1961 - Cliffe Hill Granite used in the construction of Leicester’s first multi-storey carpark at Lee circle..

Cliffe Hill Granite used in the construction of Leicester’s first multi-storey carpark at Lee circle.
1963Worse winter in 16 years saw Cliffe Hill at a stand still for a month.
Cliffe Hill Granite used in the construction of the local M1 section.
Death of Mr P.Mc.Preston MBE at 42 years. Ending a 72 year association between Cliffe Hill Granite and the Preston Family.
1964The company now consists of Cliffe Hill Granite and 7 subsidiaries.
1965The Cliffe Hill Granite company was acquired by Tarmac Roadstone
Major redevelopment work commences including installation of a new primary crusher. The largest in the UK at the time
1968Installation of an additional coating plant.
19711,000,000 tonnes per annum produced.
1973Third coating plant installed.
1974Semi automatic loading point installed at the rail sidings allowed rapid loading of rail wagons.
1978Further extension and landscaping of the quarry commenced.
1980New Cliffe Hill (Stud Farm) planning application prepared.
1983New Cliffe Hill (Stud Farm) planning application granted.
1988New Cliffe Hill (Stud Farm) opens for business
1989Cliffe Hill (Old) Quarry closes after 98 years.
1997Cliffe Hill becomes part of a joint venture between Tarmac and Hanson under the banner of MQP.
2002Primary 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.
Permission is granted to build a tunnel between New Cliffe Hill and Old Cliffe Hill.
Secondary Plant Quaternary crusher type changed to increase yield of smaller size chippings required in the changing Asphalt recipes.
Additional Cone crusher (XC10) installed and secondary crusher bypass “Grizzly Feeder” installed to increase Secondary Plant feed rate.
Cornish Miners commence work on the tunnel from Old Cliffe Hill.
2003Australian miners commence work on the tunnel from New Cliffe Hill.

Tunnel break through and official opening.

Tunnel break through and official opening.

Tunnel Engineers with Plaque

2003 - Tunnel with dumper.

Tunnel with dumper

M.O.T. (Type 1) production and stock out facility added to Primary Production Route. Previously this product was blended from Secondary processed aggregate.
2004Scalpings Wash Plant built in response to increasing Scalpings Stocks resulting from the 2002 introduction of the “Aggregates Levy.
2005Resumption of production at old Cliffe Hill after lying dormant for 16 years.
2006The Quarry’s dated ‘GEM 80’ hard wired control system completely replaced by a PC based ‘Allen Bradley” Scada system and “Fibre-optic” network.
Quarrying ceased at New Cliffe Hill.
2007 - 2009Focus was on the construction of Wednesbury Asphalt Plant and the evacuation from Edwin Richards Quarry including the demolition.
2009Demolition of Screening Plant and associated Conveyors at Whitwick Quarry.
Complete replacement of aging control system on both the Marini and Quadratech Asphalt Plants.
2010Installation of conveyors, associated hoppers and feeders along with storage sheds for the introduction of RAP to the Marini and Quadratech Asphalt Plants.
Load & Haul Contract returns to an "In House" operation.
2011Construction of Storage to provide the weather protection of imported sands to minimise moisture content thus maximise energy efficiency.
2012MQP pass 2 million man hours without a lost-time incident (LTI) at Cliffe Hill Quarry.
The Competition Commission (CC) stipulates that Tarmac must sell its share in MQP because of the proposed JV between Anglo American/Tarmac and Lafarge.
2013Hanson takes full ownership of MQP.
2014In June Clee Hill Quarry and Asphalt Plant, Shropshire is added to the MQP network of units.
In October Baston Fen, Lincs and Northampton Asphalt plants become part of MQP.
2015 - The primary Crusher was moved 700m, after 2 years of planning, to a new location within Old Cliffe Hill Quarry..

The primary Crusher was moved 700m, after 2 years of planning, to a new location within Old Cliffe Hill Quarry.
St Ives, Cambs Asphalt Plant is reopened to become part of MQP.

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