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Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
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Geology Site Account

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Weeley Borehole (site of), WEELEY , Tendring District, TM1473721833, Historical site only

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Historical site only. Site of the Weeley borehole which was sunk in 1896 in search of coal. It was one of the few boreholes to reach the 'basement of Essex', the hard Palaeozoic rocks that underlie the whole of the county, over 300 metres below the surface.


History of the borehole

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the discovery of a deep coalfield near Dover stimulated the search for coal in East Anglia. The Eastern Counties Coal Boring and Development Syndicate was formed for this purpose and they sunk a borehole at Weeley in 1896, their previous borehole being at Stutton on the Suffolk side of the Stour estuary. The borehole penetrated the deep Palaeozoic basement rocks at a depth of over 330 metres (1,100 feet) and continued to 372 metres (1,221 feet) before the project was finally abandoned. As at Harwich, the basement was found to be Silurian rocks (approx. 420 million years old) and not the younger Carboniferous coal measures that had been hoped for. A further borehole at Great Wakering near Southend was suggested but finance was not forthcoming. Directors and shareholders had invested a considerable amount of money in the venture but the syndicate was finally wound up a year or so later.

A section of the core from the bottom of the borehole is on display in Colchester’s Natural History museum and another has been preserved in the collection of the Essex Field Club. The site of the borehole is on the northern side of the stream about 100 metres north-east of Weeley railway station.

A core of hard rock of Silurian age from the bottom of the Weeley borehole that was sunk in 1896 in search of coal. This section, from the collection of Colchester Natural History Museum, has been carved with the depth it came from below ground level . Photo © G. Lucy


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Reference: Cole 1897a, Cole 1897b, Whitaker & Thresh 1916 (p.343-344).

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