Outside Tilly Whim Caves
A group of men on the stone ledges outside Tilly Whim quarry in the early 19th century.
Tilly Whim Caves were limestone quarries that were worked predominantly during the eighteenth century. Purbeck Stone, a valuable type of limestone, was extracted from the Tilly Whim caves.
Using only metal punches, wedges and hammers to split the rock into workable blocks, the quarrymen mined the stone horizontally out of the cliff face.
The quarrymen were also skilled stonemasons.
They worked most of the stone within the quarry, either to building blocks or into finished items, for example as troughs or sinks. Using a "whim", a special type of wooden crane, the finished stonework was lowered from the quarry ledges to the boats below.
The boats either shipped the stone directly to the stone yards on Swanage Quay or transferred them to a large sailing ketches anchored offshore.
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