Westdown Quarry is best known for its connection with Doctor Who as a filming location. The early working history of Westdown Quarry is a little vague. Bradgate Granite Quarries Ltd. was the operator in 1948. Bradgate was part of the Inns Group and was taken over by the Redland Group in 1966. By 1970, a new plant, including the third largest stone crusher (after Whatley and Merehead) had been erected. Planning permission for 170 acres was given to include nearby Asham Wood, famous for its silver birch trees. After 20 acres had been opened up, output proved to be above the average. An asphalt and concrete plant was also developed. Most of the product was coated roadstone, but small amounts of agricultural and industrial limestone were also sold.
In 1973, the two respective subsidiary companies Redland Roadstone Ltd. and Hoveringham Stone Ltd., established a new joint company, R H Roadstone Ltd., to run Asham and Westdown as a single unit, improving further the new plant at Westdown and abandoning processing at Asham. At the time this made the combined holdings by far the largest permitted reserve in Mendip, with over 500 acres of limestone. Rail distribution was of utmost importance but the two most obvious routes had already been acquired by Whatley Quarry in the north and Torr Works in the south. A potential rail link from the Cranmore-Witham line to Westdown was therefore under consideration as an alternative. Downturns in the aggregates market and the take-over of Hoveringham by Tarmac in 1981 contributed to a fundamental rethink. In the event, the whole site was acquired by ARC, now Hanson in 1985.
Permission to quarry in Asham Wood lapsed in 1998 and was then permanently abandoned . Westdown was retained as a potential future quarry for use when the Whatley extension has been worked out. In 2007 permission was given to a Cheddar firm to establish a £5 million concrete products plant but has yet to be developed. Asham Woods, now a SSSI, and Westdown quarries whose solitary buildings, metal detritus and giant concrete pipes, adorned with graffiti, have an eerie sense of another world.
Historical notes: The British Geological Survey