Wharram chalk works

March 2012

Wharram works silo

One of the Yorkshire walks on this website in past years followed a route to the abandoned village of Wharram Percy. On the way we passed industrial structures, a more recent abandonment. These were revisited some time later, and many years later still I’m including this page on the ‘Wharram works revisit’. Mainly because of the old film recently discovered online.

British Pathe film – The Chalk Getters

Who’d have thought it – these same industrial and rather unglamorous buildings I photographed were captured on film almost 80 years ago. A still from the film shows the chalk silo pictured when it was covered in chalk dust, noisy and busy. The British Pathe film, ‘The Chalk Getters – A Wharram Study‘, dates from 1933. It’s only short, and silent. But it’s charming.

Wharram quarry nature reserve

There’s an old quarry on the left of the road from Wharram-le-Street to its disused station. It’s now a nature reserve, a peaceful place, but decades back noisy and dusty. Chalk was extracted here and transported via the railway line close by. But before going on its way, it was crushed, in the buildings close by.

The information board at the quarry says that quarrying began here in 1919, and that the silo and engine house were built at that time. (Though it also says "Quarrying expanded with the construction of the railway in 1920" – which seems incorrect, as the line opened in 1853.)

The high quality chalk extracted was used for agricultural purposes and in cement-making – the railway line took it to the cement works of Casebourne & Co, at Billingham [source]. According to the quarry info board, the main quarrying ended in 1930 but continued intermittently on the site until 1960.

Remains of works – arch and broken door Graffiti at Wharram lime works

The silo of the old works is obvious above the treeline as you walk along the now disused track. It’s a very tall building, with others alongside, hidden away in the undergrowth. These smaller buildings are perhaps a little easier to see in the winter, when the vegetation has died back, which is why we revisited in January. These photos were taken in January 2007. Many people have visited here since, as the many photos on urban exploration sites show. Many of course had also visited before us, as indicated by the graffiti, dated 2005.

View of two of the buildings Remaining structures overgrown by vegetation

I find places like this very ‘spooky’. Maybe it’s a girl thing. I rarely manage to actually go inside. In fact I found it difficult to even go near this one, and kept calling to my companion to come and stand near me, so spooky and atmospheric were these abandoned industrial buildings.

Creepy-looking place Broken exterior ladder, silo building

Appears to be a dead railway luggage cart?

Thankfully, not everyone’s a wimp like me, and many other people who’ve visited have taken impressive and even artistic photos of parts of the interior (see links below).

Gloomy and water-filled Old kicked-in door marked 'PRIVATE'

Since the photos above were taken, presumably the place has become more overgrown, with parts of it collapsing more and more into the earth and vegetation around it. Still, I hope, standing, as a reminder of the chalk-getters, while not far away nature has completely reclaimed the quarries where they once laboured.

Bricks, vegetation, works silo

More information

Photos of Wharram Chalk Quarry and Silo – TK421Urbex, on flickr.com (May 2009)

More photos – on urbexleeds (Oct 2008)

Wharram Chalk Quarry – good photos (in the gallery section) on www.neolithicsea.co.uk

And if you’re really interested in the site, there’s a lot of detailed information on the nearby railway line and associated works at Wharram on the Yorkshire Wolds Railway restoration project website. The search facility in the discussion forum section of the site should lead you to interesting discussions relating to the Wharram works, eg Last remaining length of bullhead rail at Wharram?

There’s also a fairly recent (2010) film of the Wharram works site, about 10 minutes in length, by the Hull Paranormal and Ghost Society …

Please note …

All abandoned buildings are dangerous, but particularly when they’re out in the middle of nowhere and contain apparently deep pools of water.

. . . . .

Page compiled March 2012. Chalk works photos date from 1 January 2007, quarry photo from our walk of 18 August 2005 (map included on this page).

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