Aggregates: an enduring material
Hard stone such as sandstone, granite and limestone has been used for centuries to construct monuments and buildings.
The Roman Empire, for example, built its vast network of roads and aqueducts using aggregates, among other materials. These stones were often extracted from quarries far from the sites where they were used and many structures still remain today - a testimony to the durability of aggregates and to the techniques used in construction.
19th Century Boom:
The invention of cement and concrete in the 19th century greatly increased demand for aggregates. With the boom in the construction sector, the use of raw materials from stone grew significantly and the invention of the car and the rapid expansion of road networks aggregates have continued to be in great demand.
Large volumes of aggregates are still used today, with the Uk consuming 200 million tons a year!
Recycled and secondary aggregates:
Operations have adapted to meet the needs of customers and a wide range of applications. Today, different forms of aggregates are available including "recycled aggregates" created from materials recovered from buildings, road surfaces and a range of industries.
Lafarge Aggregates recycles almost two hundred million glass bottles each year for use as a secondary aggregate in road surfaces.
History of Mountsorrel Quarry, one of the largest granite quarries in Europe
Mountsorrel quarry workers in the early 1900s.
How Mountsorrel aggregates are used
Mountsorrel now employs 100 people in a variety of roles. Its aggregate is primarily used in the construction of roads and houses, and the quarry is also a major supplier of rail ballast. The granite from the site is famous because of its characteristic ‘pink' colour.
Quarrying at Mountsorrel, Lafarge's granite quarry in Leicestershire and the largest in Europe, began in Roman Times but Mountsorrel Quarry's commercial history began 200 years ago in the early 1800s. In 1854 the Mountsorrel Granite Company was formed and the quarry was launched as a major source of aggregate
At that time workers produced large volumes of granite setts, kerbs and head stones. In 1860 a bridge was constructed over the river enabling Mountsorrel Quarry to become the first major industrial operation to have its own sidings linked to the mainline network. For the first time three distribution channels were available - road, rail and canal - helping the company widen its market and significantly boost business.
The 1920s brought increased demand for bulk aggregates and, with it, greater mechanisation and productivity. By 1935 around 300,000 tonnes of materials were being produced every year. In the 1960s
In 1997 Redland was taken over by Lafarge who then became the world's largest producer of construction materials.