Amberley Publishing, £14.99
Review Edward Biddulph
This small but fascinating book tells the story of quarrying, or ‘stone-getting’, in Cumbria, from prehistoric to modern times. David Johnson uses photographs accompanied by extended captions to reveal how slate, granite, limestone, clay, and gypsum were extracted from rock faces or dug out of the ground. The author captures the scale, awe, and beauty of the industry with images, many taken by the author himself, of pits, working levels, disused rail tracks, tunnels, and complexes of offices, cabins, and sheds.
We learn about the evolving business of quarrying and its legacy on the landscape, though there is less about the stone-getters themselves. While we can well imagine the dangers and hardships faced, the experiences and daily lives of the people who worked in the industry remain tantalisingly out of reach. A map showing places mentioned, perhaps added to the geological map provided, would also have been very useful.
Nevertheless, this is a highly readable book that serves as a handy introduction to a long-lived industry that is still supplying its products today.