This really is a square rock pool. It is one of several to be found on the rock ledge at the foot of the cliffs at Winspit in Dorset. These square pools are scattered amongst the more usual and variously shaped pools on the rock ledge. All the pools are lined with a continuous coating of pink or bleached white calcareous algae. They are fringed with red Coral Weed or green Gutweed and provide a home to an assortment of gastropod molluscs and small fish.
However, the square rock pools are man-made and provide evidence for the industrial history of the area. This is the site of a former quarry. The workings are mostly on the cliff top where you can still explore, with care, the cave like excavations. Large blocks of stone were at one time painstakingly hewn from the strata. The rock was too heavy to cart up the hill to the village. So cranes were constructed from old ships timbers and driftwood in order to lower the stone from the cliff top to the ‘beach’ below. Another set of cranes was built on the rock platform at the water’s edge to lower the stone into boats. The square pits were carved to hold the base of the main wooden post for these cranes.
Carts were used for transferring the stone from the foot of the cliff to the edge of the ledge. As you might imagine, this could be a bit tricky on a wet and slimy surface. In fact, this operation could only be undertaken in the summer months when conditions were more favourable. The carts were pulled by two men. To stop the carts slipping, over-turning, or going in the wrong direction and into the sea with the hard-earned cargo, two parallel ruts were carved in the rock to accommodate the wheels – a bit like tramlines. Two sets of these cart ruts can still be clearly seen.
Revision of a post first published 15 November 2009
COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2011
All Rights Reserved