Sandstone has been worked at Attleborough for five hundred years. It is believed that when Coventry cross was constructed it was made entirely of Attleborough freestone. The city of Coventry was so wealthy that it could afford to have its city cross covered in gold leaf. Another contract associated with Attleborough stone was the military barracks at Weedon. Closer to home, many local buildings were built entirely of this local soft grey sandstone which was easily worked into building blocks. St. Nicholas parish church in Nuneaton, All Saints parish church at Chilvers Coton are surviving examples, the 18th century free school at Chilvers Coton, now the Heritage Centre in Avenue Road. Other examples can be found in stone walls in Attleborough, the ancient wall surrounding the Bull Inn on the Bull Street, Hall End corner. Also several walls in Lutterworth Road, possibly robbed out from old buildings demolished in the area. Nowadays no new buildings locally are built with sandstone. Many that survived in the 19th century were demolished and replaced with brick. The stone being used to infill ponds, and clay pits or uneven ground. A few gravestones survive made of Attleborough freestone but they have worn down over the years and their inscriptions have become unreadable.
At one time the demand for Attleborough stone was so great that the quarries extended from Quarry Lane, off Lutterworth Road back to Bulkington Lane under what is now is Paul’s Land. Paul’s Land was laid on top of domestic rubbish used to infill the quarry area then levelled. Vestiges of the quarry wall can still be seen off Quarry Lane. Outlying quarries were to be found on the Marston Lane side of the railway line. The Dumble Holes near to the farm known as “Teddy Kem’s Heaven”. Part of this farm was built of local stone and is said to have originally been a stone cutter’s shed. These outlying quarries were not used by the middle of the 18th century and filled with water hence the Warwickshire/Leicestershire dialect term “Dumble Hole”which means a ravine with a stream running through it. The Nuneaton Diary mentions that in May 1832 the quarry near the Lynch Spring (the Dumble Holes I assume ?) had been re-opened and was being re-worked by a man named Everitt.
Around the year 1700 adjacent to the Quarry a brickyard was built and on a bluff to one side a brick tower wind mill was built. This is said to have last worked in 1910 and its derelict remains demolished in the 1960’s. (Another mill, a post mill was in evidence in the 1820-1840 period near the Whitestone - Alan Cook: Windmills in the Nuneaton Area 1989)
In Lascelles Directory description of Attleborough in 1850 it says “The large stone quarry property of Mr. Joseph Barnwell – which affords employment for many of the inhabitants.”Mr. Barnwell might have succeeded Nathan Smart who is listed in 1828,1835 and 1841 as a stone mason whereas there is no mention of the quarry itself, in 1850 Mr. Barnwell is noted as a “stone mason and quarry owner. By 1874 the firm of“Foxwell and Davies” were shown as brick manufacturers and stone quarry. I assume it is from their time that brick-making commenced, later to be taken over by 1888 by David Parker, who is then listed as brickmaker and drain pipe manufacturer. By the turn of the century Thomas Smith, the Nuneaton building contractor, had taken over and he too was brickmaking there. The quarry business continued to trade until the 1930’s, then was closed and gradually filled in.
At one time it was connected to the London & North Western Railway with a private siding which allowed stone to be taken away by train to other parts of England. This siding went out of use before 1900. In addition there was a narrow guage tramway inside the quarry itself which brought loaded stone wagons down to the railway wharf. There are no opening and closing dates for this aspect of the quarry.
For over thirty years the quarry was operated by Thomas Smith, one of Nuneaton’s leading builders. (he built the Newdigate Arms Hotel, Nuneaton Grammar School). In 1900 and 1904 he is listed as a brick maker and quarry owner, and by 1904 has additional premises at 64 Coventry Road, Chilvers Coton. He is still listed as the proprietor of the quarry in 1921 and he moved to Wheat Street by 1928 where he continues to operate the quarry business until the trade directory of 1932, thereafter there is no mention of his business so I assume that the quarry closed when he was no longer trading. This ties in with the disposal of Paul’s Land which was on part of the quarry area, to the local council in the mid 30’s.