Geology Site Account
Billericay Railway Cutting, , Basildon District, TQ67659495, Historical site only
Site name: Billericay Railway Cutting
Grid reference: TQ 6765 9495
Brief description of site:
Disused railway cutting. Formerly with magnificent exposures of Claygate Beds and Bagshot Sand. Historical site only.
The town of Billericay sits on a ridge of Bagshot Sand, underlain by Claygate Beds. This pattern is typical of many of the hill tops in south Essex, most notably the Langdon Hills, but Billericay is a good example with the High Street running along the ridge. This ridge was cut through for the construction of the railway in 1887 and the resulting cutting, nearly 20 metres (60 feet) deep, produced one of the finest sections through the Bagshot Sand ever encountered in Essex; the entire excavation being dug by hand.
In August 1887, during the excavations, the cutting was visited by the well-known geologist William Whitaker who observed that despite a long period of drought, the junction between the Bagshot Sand and the underlying Claygate Beds was wet and the quantity of water thrown out had given much trouble, necessitating drainage work. Whitaker also noted that the junction was not a sharp line but a passage between the clayey sand of the Claygate Beds below and the fine, soft, buff sand of the Bagshot Sand above.
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Reference: Whitaker 1889 (p.277).
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