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Scotch Derrick crane

Background
The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, England, has had its own mining laws since the fourteenth century and these "rights of free miners" were extended to the extraction of stone in the 1830's.

Bixhead quarry has supplied Pennant sandstone for at least 500 years. Many prominent buildings in Britain have been built with this stone, reputedly including London Bridge. The quarry is now registered as an important geological and archaeological site. A Scotch Derrick crane lifts stone blocks of up to 10 tonnes after they have been split from the face with wedges.

Deeper in the forest 1km to the east is the stoneworks of Forest of Dean Stone Firms Ltd., where the stone is cut and dressed.

Belt-driven horizontal saw frames, a modern horizontal saw and a circular saw cut the stone to size with diamond-tipped blades.

5 tonne rock
Reciprocating stone saw

Blocks are then dressed by hand by masons using pneumatic tools as well as the traditional mallet and chisel.

Many ornamental features such as chamfers or bevels can be shaped on the stone planing machine.

Mason dressing stone

A 48 minute 'enhanced' compilation, No.31: "Forest of Dean Stone Firms" shows work at the quarry and all the stone-cutting machines in action.

Since this recording was made in 1992, the Dean Stone Firms have been modernised, many of the old stone saws have been removed and replaced by modern wire-cutting machines.

Stone planing machine

The images on this page are taken from the video.