Patten’s Rock Quarry is believed to take its name from a limemaster John Patten who operated out of Bower Yard near Benthall Edge. The quarry, probably dating from the late 18C, was the largest of those on Benthall Edge (amongst scores of others). It was once equipped with an inclined plane connected to a winding drum which conveyed loaded wagons of limestone down to limekilns at the bottom of the quarry or to a battery of 10 other kilns on the riverside at Bower Yard. Here it was calcined and used for agricultural purposes, lime mortar, or limewash. Some of the stone may have been used in the construction of cottages and stone walls, but in general was never considered good enough for building purposes. The quarry was abandoned some time in the late 19C century but had a brief reworking in the 1920s and 1930s when circumstance must have changed to make extraction once again economically worthwhile.
Patten’s Rock Quarry is a long-disused limestone quarry tucked away in Benthall Edge Wood. The area is an outstanding example of flower-rich grassland, especially noted for its bee orchids and greater butterfly orchids, but also home to two of the Gorge’s rarer butterflies, the dingy skipper and the green hairstreak.
The quarry’s steep slopes and the poor, shallow soils provide such a tough environment for many of the commoner plants that it is possible for specialists such as the bee orchid to thrive. This is also a sheltered, sunny spot, encouraging a number of unusual insects, including uncommon species of bees, flies, and moths.
Ideally, the area is best grazed by sheep, but given its difficult location, the Trust concentrates on removing young trees and shrubs which are constantly seeking to establish themselves here. Allowed to continue, the area would ultimately revert to woodland, with consequential loss of a habitat that is extremely rare.
The viewpoint over Patten’s Rock Quarry can be visited by following the walks in the Trust’s publication: Benthall Edge: Five Historic Guided Walks