By: Arthur J Price
Cheltenham Stone unravels a fascinating facet of Cheltenham’s architectural record and explores the history of all but forgotten but intriguing aspects of an underground industrial past. The received wisdom is that the superb Regency and Victorian stone fronted building heritage that makes any visit to Cheltenham such a pleasure was constructed entirely from freestone from the Leckhampton quarries. This view is corrected, putting into perspective the major part played by other nearby quarries, quarrymen, stonemasons, architects and builders. Documentary evidence has been discovered that records for the first time, sometimes in their own words, how Georgian and Victorian people quarried, transported, and prepared the fine white limestone of the district. Finally, studies of archive records and the stone itself links quarries and builders with the many prestigious public and private buildings they erected or were concerned with in Cheltenham and the surrounding countryside. In particular the book concentrates on a previously unknown and to most people surprising aspect of the quarry industry - underground quarrying. At Whittington, a small quiet village just east of Cheltenham, beneath wooded green hillsides are the extensive remains of the Dodwell Hill and Syreford Stone Quarries - hidden from view for nearly 140 years. Personal reminiscences, archive documents and census returns have been collected or examined and this wealth of original material has been used to disclose the pivotal role these quarries had in supplying freestone. The results of many years fieldwork, both above and below ground, are presented with detailed maps, surveys, drawings and photographs.