The minerals exploited within Bradford were ironstone, coal, fireclay and sandstone. At one time there was also a small lime industry, in Bingley and elsewhere, based on the excavation of glacial limestone deposits brought by the ice from the Dales. After the Shipley to Skipton section of the Leeds-Liverpool canal was opened in 1774 there was a more direct means of access to the Skipton limestone quarries. Ice movements would presumably have left substantial quantities of hard stone on the surface. This would need to be removed before ploughing in any case, but in regions where drystone walls were the traditional field boundaries there must have been a ready use for such material. Elsewhere resistant outcrops of rock protruded through the top soil from which potential wall stone could be removed with a hammer or crow bar. On some common land, or waste, local people may have had the right to remove such surface stone deposits. In Northcliffe Wood in Shipley there are a number of undated shallow excavations by means of which a band of sandstone called Stanningley Rock was accessed.
In many parts of Yorkshire it would have been possible to rob a Roman fort or the ruin of a dissolved monastery to obtain building stone, but not here. In Bradford ‘delvers’ could obtain a good quality, honey coloured, sandstone. Quarrying is thought to have begun in this area in the seventeenth century and continued until the twentieth. The need for stone was perhaps greatest in the period 1860-1900 although the walls of many stone buildings in that era would have had an inner skin made from locally produced brick, which was cheaper. Stone winning processes are illustrated in these two plans of Allerton from the LSL’s reserve map collection.
The first plan is of Allerton Grange Quarry. The dated workings are from 1875-76. Towards the bottom of the plan you can see an extraction track. On the full map the track leads to Grange Lane. This name has been crossed out and ‘Dog Lane’ substituted in pencil. Dog Lane it remained until the post-war housing development of the area. The quarry seems to be marked as Upper Grange in the second OS map of the area (surveyed 1891). In 1905 a cricket pavilion was sitting on the site but by the 1930s it was fields again.
The second plan shows an area south of Allerton village & Allerton Road, east of Hill Top Lane and north of Dog Lane. An extensive area of stone exploitation is indicated which not present on the first or second OS maps, but is present on the 1908 map. This plan was drawn by J Hindle, a well-known Bradford surveyor in partnership at various times with Charles Gott and Thomas Dixon. It is undated but is probably from the last decade of the nineteenth century. The important feature is that this is a stone mine, not a quarry. You may just be able to make out four ‘old shafts’ and a single ‘present shaft’. The pink areas represent stone already won or ‘got’, and evidently the land-owner has imposed a strict boundary to the exploitation. Good stone was not infrequently mined. Recently I was shown round some old mining sites in Shropshire where limestone was obtained in this way.
What rock was exploited in Allerton? The local geological guides record Elland Flags being mined there. This is a sandstone stratum consisted of several bands of varying thickness and quality which were located under the Better Bed coal seam, itself extensively mined in south Bradford. The maps include no evidence of ownership although nearby Allerton Grange Farm was on Atkinson-Jowett land. Contemporary trade directories list many stone merchants situated in Allerton any of whom could have been involved with these sites.
Derek Barker, Local Studies Library Volunteer