The Open Day for Whatley Quarry, Frome was an outstanding success for the quarry and for everyone participating. The weather was better than forecast and the sun shone for most of the day.
The event opened to the public at 10.30am. We, myself and Alistair Napier, had arrived 2 hours beforehand to set up the display and sort out the minerals to give away. We thought we had brought too many giveaways and I could not have got any more in to the car. We were determined that our surplus material was not coming back with us.
The quarry management team had organised a wide range of displays and activities while the highlight for many people was a visit in to the working quarry at Level 9 to see loading operations in practice. Access to the quarry was by three full size coaches going all the way down to Level 9 – I spoke to one of the drivers after the event closed and he said they had not stopped transporting people in and out since the first coach just after 10.30.
The displays included historical quarrying equipment such as steam driven crushers – very manpower intensive, the full range of modern transport, excavation and drilling equipment, radio controlled toy dumpers on a muck pile, mapping drones, explosive planning, the uses of the quarry products, quarry restoration and of course: a mineral display. Plus a wide range of food stalls catering for all tastes.
The management team had promoted the event widely and anticipated between one and two thousand people attending. In fact over five thousand people turned up on the day. This did cause problems in the local area with queues for several miles and waiting times of well over an hour. However, everyone we spoke to, which seemed like many thousands, were really impressed with the whole event and were full of praise. I spoke to people who had come from Poole but apparently some people had come from as far as Kent.
The mineral display proved popular with many youngsters and adults who were suitably impressed with the wide range of minerals found at Whatley Quarry. Many (both adults and children) were very happy to have a free mineral specimen and, as we have done at previous events, we encouraged the youngsters to write out their own label. It was surprising how many already had small mineral collections.
We had brought around 300 specimens to give away. These had been cleaned and trimmed and the vast majority originated from Whatley – they all went. Indeed we had to hold back on the giving, as we were aware that some cars had been turned away in the morning and asked to come back in the afternoon so we felt it was only fair to try and spread out the supply of free minerals. To top it all, for some of the larger specimens we offered a “collect later service” – we were concerned that the people might not come back for them but they did!
Some people did say they would join The Society and although that would be a bonus, the main purpose of the display was to support the team at the quarry in their public interactions as a way of repaying the support they have provided to The Society over the years.
As I write this short note on the day after the event, it has been announced on the quarry community website that, due to the overwhelming success and wide interest it created, Whatley Quarry is considering holding another such event in the future, but could well implement a ticketing system to even out the flow of attendees over the day.
Chris Finch, 24th April 2023
A few pictures of the event.