Tuesday 17th November 2015 – Purbeck Clay Mines

On the 17th November, The Trust held its November meeting at the Parkstone Yacht Club.
Dr. Clare Randall introduced us to the Purbeck Clay mines and the people and places involved in clay production. Ball clay is the main ingredient of fine bone china and has been much in demand since the 18th. Century.
The clay was deposited in the Poole Harbour Basin over millions of years by the great river that ran eastwards towards the Isle of Wight before turning south half way across Poole Bay.
Made of finely ground granite, the clay lies in seams, lying at many different angles. These seams can vary in depth and width and are followed where ever they may lead by the clay miners, who dug the clay by hand. The clay was brought to the surface where it was put into small railway trucks on a private narrow gauge railway and taken to the Harbour at Goathorn to be loaded onto barges for onward transport to Poole Quay and further destinations. The clay started to run out in the 1930s but the trade continued until the 1970s.
Clare gave us a wonderful insight into the hard lives of the miners and their families with well chosen pictures from the 19th.Century and good explanatory maps of the area, which were enjoyed by a good turn-out of members and their guests.
Clare Randall is a working archaeologist and is a member of our sister group, The Poole Harbour Heritage Project, which is involved in work and research into the history of Poole Harbour.

Leave a Comment