Whatley Quarry opened in 1880 and is now one of the largest limestone quarries in Europe. Grey Carboniferous Limestone and small areas of sandy coloured Jurassic oolitic limestone reveal the angular unconformity and many near-vertical fissures and joints near top of the limestone are visible. It is owned by Hansons and is situated quite close to the village of Mells.
Frome Rural District Council operated the quarry from at least 1895 until about 1930. The uncertain markets of the 1926–1933 period prompted the amalgamation of many companies in the area to form Roads Reconstruction (1934) Ltd. Initially stone was taken by a 2 foot gauge railway along a tortuous route following part of the Vallis Vale tramway, 4 km to Hapsford Mill to be crushed. As early as 1943, demand had increased and the unmanageable rail system was rapidly upgraded to standard gauge. Trains of up to seven Hudson side-tipping wagons hauled by Sentinel locos were filled by electrically powered 100 RB face shovels. The new £25 million plant was opened in 1987. The housing for the new crusher and stockpile system alone required the removal of 2 million tonnes of rock. This took the potential capacity of the site up to 10 million tonnes a year, supported by workforce of 100.
The quarry has been the object of protests against its impact on the environment mainly due to the effect on river flows, groundwater abstractions and local springs due to historic dewatering associated with the quarry.
Historical notes: http://www.bgs.ac.uk/mendips/more_info/east_mendip_quarries_history.htm