Quarry Wood Nature Reserve
The woodland within Preston Park was declared a nature reserve in 2004.It includes a former Victorian Quarry that has now been reclaimed by nature.
Its location at the far southern edge of the park, as well as the variety of trees including beech, alder, oak, horse chestnut and larch make this a quiet and pleasant retreat from the bustle of other areas of the park.
Part of the quarry is now flooded and provides a home for frogs, toads, newts and birds such as moorhen, as well as a host of invertebrates. The mature woodland of beech, alder, ash, horse chestnut and oak provides for a wealth of wildlife and woodland flowers. You may hear the drumming of a great spotted woodpecker and at night the hoots of a tawny owl. Rabbits abound and foxes and even roe deer have been seen.
The site is managed by the River Tees Ranger Service. Contact them on (01642) 527562.
Grid Reference: NZ 428153
History of Quarry Wood Nature Reserve
Whinstone, a name for various hard dark-coloured rocks including basalt and dolerite, originates from volcanic activity in the Tertiary Period 65 million years ago, and was mined at this quarry from the 1830s to the 1850s. The rock formed part of the Cleveland Dyke that stretches as far as the North York Moors.
The stone, used for road construction in expanding cities like London, was transported by barges along the River Tees. Once the Stockton & Darlington Railway was built, the stones were moved by train to the port of Stockton.
The pond in the centre of quarry wood is where the main shaft of the mine was located. The pond is believed to be no deeper than 10 metres due to the technology available at the time and the cost of extracting the stone. The pond is fed by rainwater from the slopes of the surrounding landscape; water cannot pass through the impermeable rock and so the pond is not connected to the River Tees.
After mining ceased in the 1850s nature reclaimed the area, which has since become a habitat for many species of trees and birds.