Swanworth Quarry Celebrates a Centenary

Swanworth Quarry in Worth Matravers, owned by Suttle Stone Quarries, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The quarry currently supplies approximately 50% of Dorset’s required crushed stone to the area, which is used as a sub-base for construction schemes, rock armour on sea defence works, gabions and decorative chippings.

Originally, Swanworth Quarry was a two-man underground quarry called ‘Sheepsleights’, operating around the early 1920s. According to a book entitled Swanworth by David Pushman, it was ‘quarried by Billy Brown, and, when the mood took him, Buff Bower!’ The quarry later became ‘Worth Quarries Limited’ in 1923, with its head office in Bournemouth, producing road stone: broken blocks for foundation, crushed and graded chippings, and tarmacadam. One large contract in 1924 was to supply material for the foundation of the lower valley road between Corfe Castle and Coombe Junction, replacing the cart track that was there previously.  From 1933, Swanworth Quarries Limited took over the site, at its peak producing 600 tons per day. The quarry changed hands again in 1980 to Tarmac Roadstone Limited, increasing to a peak of 450,000 tonnes per year in 1985. Today, the quarry is run by us, Suttle Stone Quarries, who took it over in 2011, supplying around 50% of Dorset’s crushed stone.

Workers at Swanworth Quarry in the 1920s.

Although the quarry has changed hands over the years, four generations of the Samways family have been a permanent working fixture at the quarry since 1921. Thomas Samways was the first to work at the site in the early 1920s as a digger; Thomas’s son Pete Samways worked at the quarry for over 40 years as a shovel driver, along with his brothers. Carly (3rd generation) and her daughter Lauren (4th generation) currently work in the quarry’s weighbridge office, selling crushed stone from the quarry to both trade and residential customers for a range of end uses from housing and civil engineering to private garden and driveway projects.


A driller at Swanworth Quarry.


Carly said “My family has worked at the quarry for 100 years – the quarry is in our family’s blood! I love working here. It has seen a few changes over the years, although when Suttles took it over in 2011, they woke it up again. It is a real privilege to work here.”

The Suttle family has worked in the natural stone and quarrying business on the Isle of Purbeck since the 1920s, before purchasing the Swanworth Quarry in 2011. Suttles is a family-run ethical business with sustainability at the core of its values.

Lauren and Carly, 3rd and 4th generation of the Samways family, who have worked at Swanworth quarry for 100 years.

Suttles is working towards becoming carbon neutral and has already made many investments in the business that reduce its CO2 emissions by around 60 tonnes per year. This includes investing in a growing fleet of 19 electric and hybrid vehicles and plant; upgrading the quarry’s crusher from diesel to an electric-powered engine; and installing a solar panel system that powers the quarry’s workshop and crusher.

Lauren and Carly, 3rd and 4th generation of the Samways family, who have worked at Swanworth quarry for 100 years.
The Suttles Group is comprised of two modern family businesses, operating across four areas, united by a common purpose to serve the construction and infrastructure sector. Suttle Projects offer tier one and tier two civil engineering contracting. With an extensive plant fleet, in-house piling capability, our own design department backed by chartered engineers plus an ICE graduate training scheme. An abundance of experience in general civil engineering, specialising in rail, coastal engineering, earthworks, and inshore marine projects. .Suttle Piling can provide sheet piling for retaining walls, and other types of driven pile. We compliment this with replacement systems, from difficult access segmental flight auger, to economic and rapidly installed continuous flight auger piling. For larger scale infrastructure, or more thorny geotechnical problems we have rotary piling capability within our teams and fleet. Suttle Stone Quarries work from our base on the Dorset Hampshire border to quarry, process and supply primary and recycled aggregates to the trade and public. Plus tipping facilities, we can also provide disposal of inert waste from infrastructure and domestic projects, on any scale. Our modern fleet of FORS compliant tipper and self-unloading trucks ensures the most reliable service available in our operating area. Suttle Purbeck Stone traces its route back to the 1930’s when our family first became involved in the Purbeck stone industry. We are proud to carry this heritage forward as modern producers of Purbeck stone products for all types of building and landscaping projects. Purbeck stone is quarried and processed by local craftsmen at our California Quarry site.