When the Quarry Guns Sounded

We have called the next Newlyn Archive Open Day on Saturday 18 July 2015, 10am-3.00pm in the Main Hall, Trinity Centre, Chywoone Hill, ‘When the Quarry Guns Sounded’. Local people remember the ‘Quarry Guns’ at I2 noon and 4.30pm signalling that blasting was about to begin at Penlee Quarry. The people on Skilly beach made a run to the shelter when the siren sounded and often saw stones fall into the sea.

Known originally as Gwavas Quarry, the quarry was opened in 1882 by James Runnalls (1837-1895) from Penzance and some of its stone would have been used for the new road from Tolcarne to Penzance for which Runnalls had the contract.

The photograph above was taken almost a hundred years later, on September 22, 1993 when Gerald Williams set out to record the final demolition of the old quarry buildings. The photo shows the end of one of the huge reinforced concrete silos, as the heavy hydraulic breaker smashes it to pieces.

In its day Penlee Quarry was a huge successful enterprise. Once the locomotive ‘Penlee’, known as ‘Janner’s Engine’ after her driver J Maddern (who wore a bowler hat to work) pulled the huge containers full of stone from the Quarry to the South Pier where it was loaded into stone boats that had fancy bird names like SS Stork, SS Albatross and SS Guillemot or were part of the fleet of ships whose name ended in ‘brook’ like Londonbrook or Leicesterbrook or Caernarvonbrook.

In the 1960s, when the ships were loaded by the diesel locos that had taken over from Janner’s engine, six locomotives were needed for operations, four higher powered ones on the main line and two lower powered ones shunting the empty tipper wagons through the two loading points. At this time the locos were named after people like TW Lewis and JW Jenkin shown in the poster.

In 1973, the railway ceased operations and was replaced by a belt conveyor system using the same route. Operations at the quarry then slowed throughout the late 1970s and the 1980s. By 1989 Penlee Quarry had closed down but the derelict buildings remained and although there was a petition to have the buildings along the Newlyn-Mousehole road removed, this did not happen until 1993.

If you would like to explore what the archive holds about Penlee Quarry you should click on Archive Catalogue, then on Places. You can download the PDF file on Places by opening the PDF file and saving it on your computer. Information about Penlee Quarry is at the end of the list in pages 55-60.

If you want to download the poster for the Open Day, click on the PDF file below and when it opens either save it or print it.

pdfNewlyn_Poster.pdf11/07/2015, 14:31