Chalk pits truck arrives – slowly
As well as being a Local Nature Reserve, the Buriton Chalk Pits are an important heritage site – steeped in local industrial history.
Scores of workers excavated enormous amounts of chalk from three main quarries here – and it was then burnt in a series of kilns to produce lime for the building industry and other uses.
The chalk was carried down to the kilns in individual trucks, driven only by gravity. A man would stand on the back of each truck with a crude foot-brake as his only control.
Gravity, and the weight of the chalk, meant that speeds could reach 50-60 mph and spills were not uncommon. Horses were used to pull empty trucks back to the chalk face until small locomotives took over in 1923.
Early trucks in the Buriton Chalk Pits were wooden, made and repaired by carpenters based on the site, but in later years some metal ones were also believed to have been used.
As part of the Lottery-funded Chalk Pits Project, Buriton Parish Council obtained a similar wagon from a nearby site and a team of enthusiasts carefully restored it before it was brought to the site and fixed in place.