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Buckland Sand and Silica

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What: Sand drying and bagging plant
Where: Buckland, Surrey
Built: 1925
Architect: Unknown
Abandoned: 1990
Listed: No
Visited: 2009, 2015
Last Known Condition: Demolished
Page Updated: November 2015

Revisiting Buckland Sand and Silica Works, I was surprised to see the lower part of the factory completely flooded with 2' of water, now home to a flotilla of ducks who glide nonchalantly among the steel girders and half-submerged piles of sand. I first came here in 2009 and even then the place was in bad shape, but now the wooden floors have rotted through in places, ceilings have collapsed, pigeons bluster about the roof trusses and loose siding clatters in the slightest breeze.

Sacks of finished product, 2009
Sacks of finished product, 2009

Millar's sand dryers with take-up screw housing on the left, 2015
Millar's sand dryers with take-up screw housing on the left, 2015

Loading spouts and flooded loading floor, 2015
Loading spouts and flooded loading floor, 2015

Safety first, 2015
Safety first, 2015

Collapse, 2015
Collapse, 2015

Tapwood quarry works, 2009
Tapwood quarry works, 2009

Works top, 2015 Hopper tower, 2009 Ladder up, 2009 Sand unloading bays, 2015 Despatch slip, 2015 Millar's sand dryers, 2015 Gas meter Silos and hoppers, 2009 Hoppers, 2015 Bagging floor (?) with avery scale, 2009 A sort of press thingy, 2015 Tapwood quarry, 2009 Tapwood quarry, 2015 Tapwood quarry works, 2009 Tapwood quarry, 2009 Tapwood quarry works, 2009 Ex-fox, 2015

Buckland Sand and Silica Co Ltd was founded in 1925 by the aptly-named Robert Sanders. Initially the pit employed 5 men and a secretary, most of the labour being provided by ex-farm workers from the Sanders estate. The first sandpit was dug by hand and the sand loaded onto horse-drawn carts, but automation soon followed: by 1934 a bagging and drying plant had been built and the works were served by a narrow gauge railway which linked it to a nearby tile works with sidings on the North Downs railway line. At this time the workforce stood at 20 men and 500-600 tons of sand were being sold every week, mostly to the construction industry. Buckland also supplied high quality silica sand for use as a casting medium in foundries and a raw material in the glass industry. Buckland sands have also been used at various times in filtration, horticulture, golf courses, long-jump pits and playgrounds.

By the 1970s, the sandpit was the largest local employer with 50 staff; in 1978 Buckland Sand & Silica Co Ltd was acquired by the Amalgamated Roadstone Corporation but continued to trade under the Buckland name until 1989 when the business was bought out by Hanson.5 Since then sand has been processed elsewhere and the small plant has become derelict and very unsafe in places.

Sand was, until recently, still extracted from the nearby Park and Tapwood quarries on either side of the A25. Park Quarry was flooded to create an artificial lake around 2000 and Tapwood quarry has been allowed to fill with water in the last two years (although two diesel-engined pumps now struggle noisily against the constant ingress of groundwater). Current plans involve closing the old pits to create a nature reserve. The old factory is no longer part of the Hanson estate, but it seems likely that if the pumps are switched off the water table will rise and the works could be completely submerged.


Post Script

Satellite imagery indicates that the factory was completely demolished some time between March and July 2015.

Bibliography

Ferns, D.C., 1999, 'Buckland 1000-2000: A Village History of Buckland, Surrey'
Buckland: D.C. Ferns. Pp.28, 129-131

Surrey County Council, 2009 'Surrey Minerals Plan Preferred Option: Silica sand' [http://new.surreycc.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/20351/Silica-Sand-Background-Report.pdf] Accessed 28/2/15

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