TORR WORKS & MEREHEAD
Please be aware that to visit the quarry, the railway sidings or Marston House you must obtain permission from Foster Yeoman.
As I couldn't put it better myself the following information has been taken directly from the official Foster Yeoman web site.
The Company was founded by Foster Yeoman, from Hartlepool, at Dulcote, near Wells, in 1923. He was a former ship owner and had worked in the iron and steel business. Foster Yeoman had served in the First World War and went into quarrying to provide employment for ex-soldiers.
After the wars, with Foster Yeoman ailing, business declined and the company came full circle, returning to the £20,000 turnover it had enjoyed in 1923. In 1949 Foster died and his son, John Foster Yeoman, became Managing Director at the age of 21. He employed Ron Torr to redevelop the plant. Despite his youth and inexperience, John Foster Yeoman turned the company round and within four years it was back in profit.
Dulcote was not the best location and, with an eye to rising costs, competition and the need for future expansion, John Yeoman bought the under-exploited Merehead Quarry at East Cranmore in 1958. He developed this successfully in association with his chief engineer, Ron Torr, after whom the new quarry was named. This second Foster Yeoman quarry became operational in 1964 and was completed with the installation of the Nordberg Primary Crusher in 1970.
Since 1949, stone had been carried to its destination by lorry but now Foster Yeoman reverted to rail transport. The Merehead Stone Terminal was established in 1970. From there aggregate was removed by high capacity trains.
In 1985 the O & K Mobile Crusher came to Torr Works quarry and four Class 59 locomotives were commissioned from the USA to pull even heavier and longer loads from Torr Works to stone terminals in Southern England. Foster Yeoman was the first national company to run private locomotives on the then British Rail track.
In 1993, Foster Yeoman and ARC came together to form Mendip Rail combining their locomotives and rolling stock in one streamlined operation. This created the third largest freight company in the UK, moving ten million tonnes of aggregate a year.
Foster Yeoman bought the derelict Marston House, a Grade II Listed Building, near Frome, in 1984. The mansion dates in part from the early 17th century and has 106 rooms. It was well restored over a seven year period as the company headquarters.
All maps © Woolly Pictures 2006
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FOSTER YEOMAN Ltd - The official web site.