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Suckthumb Quarry

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The curiously named Suckthumb Quarry is a depleted inland quarry which has been infilled with unwanted stone from other quarries; in particular the adjacent Coombefield Quarry

The area was recorded as ‘Sutcombe’ in 1608 and ‘Suckthumb’ in 1806. No definitive meaning of the name has been found other than the obvious; that someone sucked their thumb here?

The area on the east of Avalanche Road was a deep quarry well into the 1980s when I first explored this area.

At this time I found a complete and working hand operated crane. Over the following twenty years this was vandalised with the last of the wooden spars being destroyed by fire in about 2007.

However the iron work was used in the reconstructed crane which stands on the hairpin bend of the main road up to the top of Portland.

To the northern edge of the above map are a line of house which cover the site of the Prince Alfred pub. Nearby was Weston duck pond.

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SUCKTHUMB QUARRY [1]

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DEMISE OF A HAND OPERATED CRANE

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THE PRINCE ALFRED PUB [3]

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ANOTHER OF MY HOBBIES

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SUCKTHUMB QUARRY

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Suckthumb Quarry was first quarried in late Victorian times after the coastal quarries became depleted and uneconomic. By the 1980s quarrying in Suckthumb had ceased and, over the next decade, the quarry was filled with rubble leaving a jumble of mounds and dips covered with scrub as seen above and below.

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There is little of interest in Suckthumb Quarry except for the Pampas Grass which is spreading from the main crop east of Avalanche Road. This is now spreading to most parts of Portland. 

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A typical rough jumble of quarry debris.

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THE DEMISE OF A HAND OPERATED CRANE

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This small quarry crane which was operated by hand, was discovered and photographed by me in July 1989.

At this time I contacted the council, the quarry owner and Portland Museum to see if this crane could be saved but nobody responded with the result that vandals destroyed this crane over the next decade or so. This was such a shame as the crane appeared to be the last survivor of its type.

However some of the metalwork was salvaged to be used in the reconstructed crane which stands by the hairpin bend on the way up to Tophill as seen below.

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This part of Suckthumb Quarry was filled in soon afterwards and this quarry no longer exists.

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The pathetic remains of the crane by mid-1989.

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Then, in October 2002 I discovered the remains again - dumped nearby the edge of the in-filled quarry

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By 2007, the last remaining wooden spars of this crane had been burned by vandals.

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THE PRINCE ALFRED PUB

Weston Pond is seen below and was opposite the Prince Alfred pub, which closed in March 1973 and was demolished. The pond was by the junction of Weston Road and Weston Street.

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 Below we see the scene today. The pond was approximately in the middle of the present main road but I was not going to stand in the middle of a busy main road just to get a more accurate picture!

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The pond was filled in by 1906 after piped water supply arrived in the area in 1901. The pond was the scene of a tragedy when a small child fell in and was drowned.

Shown below on the west side of Avalanche Road are the culverted remains of a stream that ran to the pond.

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In October 2017 there was local consternation when Dorset County Council workmen started digging up the old stones for repair work. However, the work was carried out with sympathy and skill leaving the area improved and the old stonework intact.

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The modern buildings where the Prince Alfred pub once stood.

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ANOTHER OF MY HOBBIES

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In 2014 at the age of 75 I started a new hobby - writing books. These are available as paperbacks and free ebooks. 

Please click here for details. All have been very well received; so far gathering all ‘five star’ reviews apart from one ‘four star’ review.

I also have many other websites covering a wide range of interesting topics. These can be visited by clicking here.

 

Keywords Southwell Portland Suckthumb Coombefield prince alfred public house quarrying Portland Dorset