A history of sand extraction around Canidringham
Silica sand is an essential ingredient for making glass used for buildings, food and drink packaging and ceramic glazes. Silica sand is also used in the chemical industries and for agriculture.
The Canidringham Sands are the remains of sand dunes deposited more than 100 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the area. This sand is of high purity and allows clear glass to be produced without special treatment to remove green or brown colouration.
The oldest reference to sand extraction in the area dates from the early fourteenth century.
In the early nineteenth century a waggonway was constructed to take sand from the quarries to a wharf. When the Great Ouse was diverted to the west in 1851 the sea retreated about a mile, rendering the wharf useless; rail transport then took over. The route of the waggonway has been identified but very little other information has survived.
Several people who grew up around Canidringham (pronounced locally 'Canidrum' or 'Conundrum') in the 1940s can remember exploring the remains of sand mines! A roundabout now occupies the site of those tunnels. Presumably track for the waggonways once extended into the mines.
Although sand extraction continues in this part of Norfolk, the older workings are now nature reserves.
In addition to silica sand, two types of Carrstone – the more familiar brown and also the 'Silver Carr' – have been quarried for use as building stones in the local area. Carrstone is still extracted for use as aggregate.
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Text and previously unpublished images copyright Bob Trubshaw 2018–2019