In developing the Heritage Centre, and the surrounding site, we have tried to value local history, be sympathetic to the environment, whilst being as accessible to all as possible.
In building the Heritage Centre we took the opportunity to rescue three historic buildings which were at risk of being lost. These have been carefully dismantled and rebuilt to form the basis of the Heritage Centre and Granite’s coffee shop.
The 200 year old granite barn from Kinchley Lane, Rothley, was once used as a mess room for German prisoners of war who worked on the Swithland Reservoir dam during World War 1. The expansion of the Mountsorrel Granite Quarry would have seen it lost, but now it forms part of the Heritage Rooms.
The ‘Time Office’, the only remaining original building within the old Mountsorrel quarry site, dates back to the 1860s, and can be seen on photos, always staying the same whilst everything around it changes. Sadly the building had been out of use for many years and had become a ruin. This is now a major part of Granite’s coffee shop.
The third granite building was used as a stable during quarrying at Nunckley Hill, and possibly an explosive store for the quarry. The remnants can be seen in the coffee shop servery wall.
The Heritage rooms, within the Heritage Centre, contain material focusing on the rich history of the villages of Mountsorrel and Rothley. Both villages have such an interesting and varied history including a castle built by the nephew of William the Conqueror and links to the Knights Templar. There will be a great deal of information and artefacts to display but only limited space, so it is envisaged that displays will be changed every few months to allow other stories to be told. We are working closely with the Rothley History Society, Mountsorrel Heritage Group and Rothley Heritage Trust on the display material.
The displays continue on the first floor, which can be accessed via a lift, where there is also a quiet room providing a special place for visitors with illness or disability to take a few minutes out of their visit to administer their medication or just to have a quiet rest.
Nunckley Hill platform is also complete and provides access to the 1¼ mile Mountsorrel Railway which runs from Mountsorrel Station on Bond Lane, via Nunckley Hill to Swithland sidings. Trains run on selected weekends.
In the base of the quarry work on the quarrying recreation area is well advanced. Comprising Stonemasons’ huts, a short section of narrow gauge railway, and a small quarry museum, together they recreate a quarrying scene that would have been common in the late 19th century, allowing us to tell the story of granite quarrying in the area.
The project is being constructed in and around the disused Nunckley Hill quarry on the Rothley/Mountsorrel parish boundary. The quarry is designated as a Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Site (RIGS) and will help visitors gain an understanding of both granite quarrying in Leicestershire and the general geological importance of the area.
The reinstated railway is now viewed as a unifying force for the parishes of Rothley and Mountsorrel and the construction of Mountsorrel Station at Bond Lane and the Community Heritage Centre are vital further steps towards realising the benefit that the project can bring.
We are enormously grateful for the support we have received from the local communities and, of course, our tireless volunteers who have worked to bring the project to its current stage.
The scheme has been made possible in part thanks to Tarmac plc. (previously Lafarge), who are providing the land required for the project, materials at prime cost, as well as grants totalling over £680,000 through their Landfill Communities Fund. The remaining match funding has been provided by public donations and grants from, amongst others, Friends of the Great Central Main Line, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Harry Hames Cottage Charity, the Helen Jean Cope Charity and the Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust. The enormous level of support from Tarmac for this project, through both their Landfill Communities Fund and through donations of materials and services, is particularly appreciated. We are also grateful to our supporters and the local community for raising the substantial contribution that was required to release the large Tarmac grants. We now have an opportunity to create an outstanding recreational and educational resource for our local communities to enjoy.