Business News

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.


Image caption: 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.


Image Caption: 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.”


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


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. 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.


Image caption: Some of the Suttles team at Swanworth Quarry today.


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