grit has been quarried out of Mow Cop for many years, it was first used to make
querns (hand mills), evidence of these locally manufactured querns was discovered
during the 1930’s, when Joe Lovatt’s quarry men were clearing away old piles
of rubble. Ironically these, the last of the quarrymen on Mow Cop, had discovered
evidence of the first. These querns dated back to at least the Iron Age, which
is a good indication of just how long Mow Cop has been worked.
The original quarrying of stone would have been a simple affair, individuals who required a quern or stone for some other reason, would have paid a small fee to the local land owner for the right to fashion a stone.
Later in the 13th century it became more lucrative, with the ownership of the Staffordshire side of Mow belonging to the Manor of Tunstall. In fact the combined revenues for the Manor of Tunstall from Mow Cop quarries was more than the combined income of the other industrial operations such as coal and iron mining.
|Special thanks to William Albert Hancock and Nigel Cooper & Joan Timms|
|Joe Lovatt's men moved Mow Cop rock to make new roads in Cheshire|
The following is an extract from "Strange News of Staffordshire", which was printed in 1642. The spelling remains unchanged.
At a place neer the common great road betwixt London and Manchester in Staffordshire, called Moule Cop, in the English Maps, but in the old Saxon language Hiperbolian Talke, which is a large hill in English, as Talke of the Hill which signifies a bush on a Hill: Mow this Moule Cop Hill is a vast sublime place very mountainous and devious no common passage over it, but carriages have happened to come thither for millstones and grinding stones, which now are not there to be gotten, by reason to Lords of that soyle are at strife and variance there, about contesting for the seigniory. This hill is four or five miles from the top to the bottome, and on the top is a large plain, wherein those millstones have beene gotten out: And the place where the great quarries were, and in depth ion the hill top four score yards, and in length and latitude a hundred yards round each way; And over the top of that Hill goeth a straight line which divideth Staffordshire and Cheshire assunder.
It was during the 17th century
that the quarried rock was pounded into fine white almost pure quartz. This
was added to Staffordshire potters clay to improve the colour and hardness
of the pottery. Gilbert Wedgwood, who left his family home on Mow Cop to set
up as a master potter in Burslem in 1616, possibly started this. Women and
children pounded the stone, and then using mules transported the sand to the
Perhaps the most famousMillstone
makers were the Jamiesons; their stones were some of the most renowned
that have been chiseled from Mow Cop stone. They were sold nationally and
internationally and always bore the inscription `Jamieson Mow Cop'.
In the photograph on the right you can
see in the center of the partly cut millstone, a mark where an axle hole was
to be chiseled. This stone is at the bottom of the steps to the rear of the
Castle. Two millstones each weighing approximately
25cwt (1300kg) were attached to the end of a timber spar, this was then hauled
away by mules to a finishing block.
Charles Hancock was step brother in law
to Joe Lovatt, and had moved into Joe's house West
View in Primitive Street.
Charles company owned all the land around the Old Man O'Mow but not the Old Man itself, he owned the quarries along Rockside and behind Woodcocks' Well School . The stone was quarried by hand using sledge hammers and metal wedges, then hand mauled into 1 of 4 wagons. They owned 2 Dennis's a Bedford and a brand new Federal. This stone like that of many years before was used for road making in Cheshire.
Glimpses of the old quarrying can be clearly seen as you walk around Mow. There are several partly cut millstones, which were left unfinished for some reason, dark rounded shadows can be made out and radiating tool marks, more examples of these can be found at the base of the Old Man O’Mow. Plug and feather marks can also be seen as well as marks from when blasting was used.
Types of quarrying used on Mow Cop
Plug & feather, a line of holes are drilled into the rock & 2 tapered D sectioned "feathers" are inserted into each hole. A tapered wedge (the "plug"), is then inserted between each pair of feathers. The plugs are gradually and evenly hammered home until the rock splits along the line of holes. This is a superb method of producing stone of the size & shape required & is still used today for producing dimensional stone. When used thus it leaves a characteristic line of short, fairly close spaced 1/2 holes on the cut face. However P&F's can also be used in single or maybe a couple of holes, just to break of a lump that's "in th' road". In this case it can be difficult to spot which method was used.
lime is tamped into holes drilled in the rock, moistened with water and
left over night. During which time the lime swells and so splits the rock.
This method leaves quite large 1/2 holes 2-3" diameter and maybe 2ft long,
this was used in some quarries along Mow edge. Apparently the rock could
be heard groaning & creaking during the night before finally splitting!
Plug and Feathers