Loftus Alum Quarries

The last remains of one of last ruins of the Loftus Alum Quarries. Probably a seeping pit. Soon this will go the way of other buildings and tumble the 300 foot into the North Sea. All that will be left is a sterile moonscape, mostly devoid of vegetation.

Just along the coast is the alum quarries of Boulby, together almost two miles of excavation 200 feet deep. A phenomenal amount of material removed. It took the best part  of a hundred tons to produce one ton of alum crystals. Alum was an important chemical used in the fixing of dyes and in the tanning industry. It was a cure all for almost all types of illnesses and ailments. The process was complex, and full of intrigue and secrecy, involving eggs and urine. There was a Papal monopoly in the chemical until Henry VIII fell out with the Pope. Then the race was on to find a home source. Lingberry quarry, as it was known at the time, operated for about two centuries opening in the mid 1650s. Later the quarry took the name of the village of Lofthouse which was shortened to the present Loftus in late Victorian times.

The history is without doubt fascinating. The area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest on account of the fossils found in the shales, particularly ammonites. But, although heather and a few shrubs have found a footing higher up below the sandstone cap, the barren shale wasteland is just another fine example of the way man has and is still desecrating the planet.

 

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