From Storeton to New York
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Storeton Woods on Wirral is the site of three old sandstone quarries, dating back to Roman times. More recently, after they closed, they were partly filled in with the excavated earth from the building of the Mersey Tunnels. Even today, legend has it that a Roman Solder still guards these quarries – so watch out for him during your visit!
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-size mineral or rock grains. Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow, red, grey and white. Since sandstone beds often form highly visible cliffs and other topographic features, certain colours of sandstone have been strongly identified with certain regions. Rock formations that are primarily sandstone usually allow percolation of water and are porous enough to store large quantities, making them valuable aquifers. Fine-grained aquifers, such as sandstones, are more apt to filter out pollutants from the surface than are rocks with cracks and crevices, such as limestone or other rocks fractured by seismic activity.
At Storeton, in the early 1800s, the journey to transport the rock from quarry to docks on the River Mersey took up to 3 weeks for the two and a half miles journey. The use of horse drawn wagons to transport the stone also had its dangers resulting in several accidents, and they also caused damage to the roads and tracks that were followed. In the 19th century this was replaced by a tramway.
The idea of a tramway was first proposed in the late 1820’s, after George Stephenson visited the quarries. He was looking for some additional stone to complete the Sankey Viaduct, and noticed the slow transportation methods. Construction of the Storeton line began in April 1837 and was completed in August 1838 at a cost of £12,000. The original name was "Sir Thomas Massey Stanley’s Railway" or "The Stourton Railway" which was the original spelling of the village. It was many years later that the name became the Storeton Tramway.
The line serviced three quarries, Storeton North, Storeton South and Jackie’s Wood Quarry, which was on the East side of Mount Road. It started at the North Quarry, then passed the South Quarry, over Rest Hill Road, through Hancock’s Wood and into the 60 yard tunnel under Mount Road where it emerged in Jackie’s Wood Quarry before continuing on to the Quay at Bromborough Pool. Additionally, there was a branch line onto the Birkenhead to Chester line to move the stone further afield. From the quarries to the high point on Mount Road the wagons were still hauled by horses, but from then on they were propelled by gravity at speeds of up to twenty miles per hour. Horses would then provide the power for the return journey of the empty wagons at a safer speed. At its peak the journey time of three weeks had been reduced to as little as 30 minutes.
As the years passed, so to did the remains of the tramway. They are now covered by 30 acres of woodland and scrub known as Storeton Woods, the route of the tramway being the main footpath through these woods. Parts of the cutting which approached the west entrance to the tunnel can still be seen, as can parts of the cutting to the North quarry. Further exploration will also reveals the stone sleeper blocks used to secure the rail, which are distinguishable by four bolt holes.
Stone from Storetons quarries was of a high quality and can be seen in many major buildings, including Birkenhead Town Hall, several lovely villas around Birkenhead Park, Storeton Hall, St Andrews Church, Saxon crosses in Sandbach, the Sankey Viaduct in Lancashire, and even the world famous Empire State Building in New York, where some parts are clad in Storeton Stone!
Additionally, many years ago, fossilised footprints of a raptor-like dinosaur were found here in the quarry, and it was named “Cheirotherium Storeonia” after this location. Examples of these rare footprint fossils are now housed in both the Liverpool museum and the British museum.
To log this earth cache, park on Marsh Lane at N 53 21.516 W 003 02.057 and follow the main trail though the woods to Rest Hill Road (the first road you will encounter). You may take dogs with you on the walk, but bicycles are not allowed in the woods. Part way along the walk at the listed co-ordinates, you will find a plaque and short stretch of tramway rails. Note that before reaching the rails, the footpath meanders through the trees, but afterwards it is straight, and level (being on a raised bank in places) as this is the route of the old tramway. There are also some informational noticeboards about the history of the woods that are well worth reading. You can return to your car via the same route, or take a higher route through the woods that passes several other quarry workings.
a) Using your GPS, measure how far it is from Marsh Lane to the rails and plaque.
b) Using your GPS, measure how far it is from the rails and plaque to Rest Hill Road.
c) Take a photograph of yourself stood between the rails and post it with your log.
If you look uphill where the rails point, you’ll see one of the old quarry workings, now mostly in-filled and now with low undergrowth. Looking downhill 20-30m where the rails point is a slab of Storeton Sandstone. If you sit on the bench it is across the path at the top of the banking to your left, between two trees.
d) Estimate the length & width of this sandstone slab.
e) Estimate the angle this slab slopes down the banking.
f) What colour is this sandstone slab?
Finally just one more question.
g) Exactly what type of sandstone was quarried in these woods? The answer I require has 2 words (with one of them being a colour)
Please e-mail me the answers through my profile and do NOT include them in your log (even if encrypted). Also, do not post any photographs of the sandstone slab as that would also give away the answers to some of the questions.
Thanks go to Sandra Coleman & Tim Kirwin of the Woodland Trust for granting permission to list this Earth cache. Further details about Storeton Woods, the quarries and tramway can be found on their website at http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk / and also at http://friendsofstoretonwoods.org.uk/
(No hints available.)
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum