This is Hoveringham

The Quarry

In 1939 gravel extraction from alongside the river Trent was begun by Hoveringham Gravel Limited. Soon they found that their operations were periodically halted by the discovery of the tusks and teeth of mammoths which had to be recorded by palaeontologists before digging could continue. Many of these remains are now in the Natural History Museum at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham. Perhaps as compensation for this disruption in production the company adopted the mammoth as its 'logo' and for many years its lorries with their mammoth symbols were a familiar sight in the district. The company had its headquarters near the village of Hoveringham in a building opened by Lord (R.A.B.) Butler, then Master of Trinity College, Cambridge who owned the land being used. They also commissioned the mammoth sculpture by Kim James and from 1966 this stood at Hoveringham.

In 1982 the Quarry Products Division of Tarmac took over the extraction of gravel and the administration building at Hoveringham was no longer used. Trent Polytechnic was delighted to be able to provide a new home for the Mammoth sculpture outside its Science Building and the Nottingham Trent University is most grateful to Tarmac for this generous gift.

The mammoth is still on familiar territory for long long ago mammoths roamed the Trent valley, passing both Clifton and Hoveringham, and far far beyond. Now this reminder of the natural history and the recent industrial past stands outside one of the most modern science buildings in the country alongside the busy A453 which links the city of Nottingham to the M1 motorway, the East Midlands airport and Birmingham.

Kim James - sculptor

Anthony Kim James was born in 1928 at Wollaston in Northamptonshire, where he still lives. He was trained at the Borough Polytechnic School of Art in London (now part of the South Bank Polytechnic) between 1948 and 1953.
On leaving art school he worked as a sculptor and carried out numerous commissions for architects. Among these were a number of works for churches, notably a large relief on the staircase wall in St. Matthew's church in Bethnal Green, London and decorated ceilings in the churches of St. Edmund and St. Nicholas in Hayes and Hillingdon, Middlesex. These works, together with the "Mammoth" sculpture for Hoveringham Gravels, he thinks constitute his key pieces for the period 1956 to 1966


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Dug by hand from small quarries near to the work-site stone has been our main building material for countless centuries. Indeed this primitive method continued right through to the middle of the nineteenth century, when the very first primitive crushers appeared with the advent of the Steam Age.

As the mechanics of crushing advanced, the vast number of private quarries were gradually replaced by small commercial quarries which prepared stone for sale to the end user. This continued until the mid 1950's , when the building boom arrived and motorways and dual carriageways began to link up the entire country.

Big business now started to develop an interest in quarrying. Large construction companies began to buy these small operations, often closing them down and transferring their work to other sites. Those they were unable to buy might have their prices undercut or not used to supply the large contracts. Many went to the wall. In 1960 there were in excess of 5,000 quarry companies but by 1970 this number had fallen to less than 3,000.

Today there are only some 200 private quarry companies left throughout mainland Britain! Five large companies, referred to as "majors," now claim almost 90% of total output. They have refined their techniques of market domination to a fine art form. Buying virtually all the concrete and asphalt plants was referred to as "vertical integration". These facilities often use in house buying policies to continue the process of freezing out the independents. On large contracts the majors will often package aggregate purchase along with concrete and asphalt which means the smaller operator is unable to compete. They have also extended their empire into the supply chain, buying out cement companies, thus forcing the independents to use imported cement or perhaps pay a premium price.

Still the remorseless quest for total market domination continues unabated. Now that they have almost run out of independent operators to buy out, the majors have begun to consolidate, with Pioneer being the most recent addition to the history book. They will join other, equally well known, names such as Tilcon, Wimpey, Redland, McAlpine, Hoveringham, Steetley, ECC Quarries, Bodfari, Greenhams, Hobbs and Hargreaves , to name but a few. There are also signs that the majors are becoming much more reliant on sub-contractors and mobile plant to carry out their crushing and screening operations. Although this may offer short term savings by reducing capital expenditure, the long term negative effects, on staff training and investment, will be profound. It will also prevent people gaining practical experience before climbing the corporate ladder to the boardroom. The end result might well be that the majors retain only mineral rights and a sales staff, with all quarry operations being contracted out.

When this process finally grinds to its inevitable conclusion and the dust settles, we wonder what little will remain of a once mighty industry. So far, the only part of Britain to escape this destruction has been Northern Ireland. Here the majors have yet to gain the upper hand and private enterprise still flourishes, with 120 independent quarries providing a high degree of customer service, as well as much needed employment.

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