Workings now used for tip, overgrown spoil heaps in fields below quarry site.
Close Brow Quarry is split into two parts on either side of Wilpshire Road. The quarry site on the Blackburn side of the road is now overgrown and the site has been used for tipping, mainly from Philips or Mullards at Blackburn.
The quarry is also known as Harper Clough, and has been designated a site of Special Scientific Interest, along with Smalley Delph, which can be found 100 yards away over the boundary in Great Harwood.
Known locally as Star Delph Quarry because of the rock formation, the quarry was first abandoned in 1897.
The rocks in this part of the quarry were formed about 130 million years ago in the Carboniferous period. This was when Britain had a hot climate, similar to the tropicals that we have today.
The entire area was part of a river delta system, similar to the Mississippi Delta, these powerful rivers carried mud and sand from the erosion caused to the mountain ranges, and left them in the calmer deltas, such as was Rishton. These areas between the river channels were swampy and marshy, liable to flooding from the high tides down the rivers.
The mud was deposited, and dead plant life became thin layers of coal.
Millions of years later, with the compression of the mud, rocks were formed, and Earth movement caused the rocks to fold and tilt. The rock face in Star Delph would at one time been horizontal.
IIt is unknown if the star was caused by the blasting in the quarry (urban myth), or if it was a fossil. The fossil seems to formed by a Lepidonendron, which was a tall forest tree, one of the Carboniferous coal-makers. It had forked roots often rooted in shale's, so seems likely. The other one was Stigmaria, which is fairly easy to recognise because it's trunk looked like layers [or bundles] of cigarettes. The Stigmaria was actually part of the Lepidonendron plant, being its roots.
A Letter was read from and a Plan submitted by, The Sphinx Terra Cotta Works, Rishton, for permission to erect a small brick kiln in Close Brow Quarries, on the 4th March 1937. The Plan was referred to the Regional Planning Committee for their consideration and report.
At the same time, 4th March 1937, The Council Surveyor reported that the Dunkenhalgh Estate had erected a wooden fence near the top of Close Brow and recommended the erection of a danger sign near the top of Close Brow. The Surveyor was instructed to obtain and erect a suitable danger sign in the position referred to.
In April, 1937 Plans were submitted for a brick kiln to be built in Close Nook Quarry, the plans were deferred for more information. On May 6th, the council surveyor reported on the position of an application received by Sphinx Terra-Cotta Works operating from Close Nook Quarries, and the Building of a brick Kiln was approved. The kiln was to be a small down-draught brick kiln, to be used as for experimental work only.
The site now remains as a place of beauty and during the latter end of the 1970's and early 1980's the quarry was maintained by Norden County High School. Footpaths were laid and the site was declared a place of natural beauty, the area being used once more as a picnic site.
Pupils from the school attended the site and cleared it of litter and debris, cleaning the brambles and bushes in preparation of a nature trail.
Due to demands and resources at the school, eventually the work of the pupils was curtailed and the site left to overgrow once more, until the year 2003 when Lords House Farm became involved with the quarry. (see later)
On Friday 21st February 1997, businesses were being urged to reduce the amount of waste they produced, to help their bank balance as well as the environment.
The new Eliminate initiative run by the Environmental Management Services Team at Groundwork Blackburn, was a pilot scheme to help companies cut expensive waste disposal bills by adopting environmentally friendly practices, which was launched at Philips Components new landfill site, at Close Brow Quarry, Rishton. This was the area to the left of Wilpshire road as you travelled up the hill, and had been used by Mullards for many many years as a tip.
During the pilot scheme, 20 East Lancashire companies were given advice and assistance with waste auditing and monitoring to help both reduce the amount of waste they produce and develop alternative ways of dealing with it.
Eliminate also helped companies ensure they were meeting the requirements of new waste legislation. The project was supported by grants from the European Regional Development Fund and the Environment Agency.
The following year, on Monday 10 August 1998, it was claimed that Babies were at risk through dumping waste. TOXIC dumps across East Lancashire were putting babies at risk of being born with birth defects, a green pressure group claimed. Environmentalists published a list of sites across East Lancashire - and labelled the county a national blackspot for toxic dumps.
New scientific research showed that mothers living close to the dumps were more likely to give birth to sick children. Friends of the Earth said Lancashire had more landfill sites containing toxic waste than any other part of the country. A report in the Lancet medical journal said that women living within two miles of toxic landfill sites were up to a third more likely to have babies with problems like holes in the heart and spina bifida.
There were 15 local sites which were licensed to take toxic waste, including materials with high levels of poisons such as arsenic and cyanide, Close Brow Quarry, Rishton, was one of them. According to Friends of the Earth, the problem could be much greater, as before the mid-1970's there was little control over what types of waste were dumped at sites all over the country. Mike Childs, Senior Waste Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "The Government must take swift action to protect babies from these toxic tips. Health studies should be carried out around all landfill sites in the UK, there could be thousands of sites threatening people's health and the Government must take action now. Although landfill sites are licensed and controlled, there are still problems as emissions of these toxic substances can blow across the local countryside."
The Environment Agency, which regulates and licences toxic dumps, said that more research was needed into the potential risks. A spokesman said: "The study in the Lancet did not look at any landfill sites in Lancashire. There is no proven link between landfill sites and health defects. The scientists involved in this study recommended that more research is done. The Agency is looking at the results. We regulate and licence landfill sites to ensure they are operated correctly and people living nearby should not worry."
In October 2003, Close Brow Quarry was officially unveiled with new footpaths and faunae.
List of Plant Species found in Close Brow Quarry
Work had been carried out by Lords House Farm, at the back of Close Nook Cottages to the quarry itself as well as a new path leading from the farm car park to the quarry.
The site was believed to be Bryologically valuable for its Willow Carr, the enclosed quarry and permanent ground water produced by the stream there ensured a constant high humidity, which were considered ideal conditions for epiphytes.
The massive trunks and branches of the Willow Carr were preserved in the creation and renewal of the footpaths in the quarry, and the fossil face was cleaned. The mature Willows were considered valuable habitat of the quarry.
in the former Harper Clough Quarry, better known as Star Delph, there is a three million-year-old fossilised tree root that has led to the area being named a site of specific scientific interest protected by English Nature.
Industrial Rishton by Kathleen Broderick & M. Rothwell.
Council Minutes 1937 - 38
Lancashire Evening Telegraph 21st February 1997.
Star Delph visitation leaflet, 20th December 2002.