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Vange Hall Brickworks Pit (disused), Vange Hill, VANGE, Basildon District, TQ717874, Potential Local Geological Site

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Site category: London Clay, Claygate or Bagshot Beds

Site name: Vange Hall Brickworks Pit (disused), Vange Hill

Grid reference: TQ717874

Brief description of site:

Disused brick pit with degraded exposures of Claygate Beds containing sparse fossils.

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Summary of geological interest

The bedrock geology of Pitsea and Vange is London Clay, laid down in a subtropical sea some 50 million years ago. As the sea became shallower the sea floor became increasingly sandy and the London Clay passes up into a sandy clay called the Claygate Beds. Erosion of the whole area during the Ice Age has removed all the younger strata that originally existed on top of the London Clay, including the Claygate Beds, but a few isolated patches of Claygate Beds remain on high ground such as the Langdon Hills to the west, and a kilometre long patch here on Vange Hill.

Vange Hill is a prominent area of high ground with steep slopes and landslipped ground to the south. The eastern end of the hill, alongside Vange Hill Drive, is now a local nature reserve owned by Basildon Council. Basildon Golf Course occupies the western end and in the centre of the golf course, at the highest point, is the former pit of Vange Hall Brickworks.

The brickworks started life in the 1890s and worked the Claygate Beds, which were described in 1922 as laminated clays with beds of fairly course, current-bedded sands. In the lowest beds were septarian nodules that contained fossil shells – six species of marine mollusc that lived in the shallow waters of the London Clay Sea. In 1974 a section of the pit face was cleared to revealed a 9 metre (30 foot) thick section, which was documented in detail. It was assigned to the upper part of the middle division of the Claygate Beds.

The section is now overgrown and mostly obscured but it remains probably the only exposure of Claygate Beds in Essex.

 

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Reference: Lake et al. 1986 (p.20), Wooldridge and Berdinner 1922, Ellison 1979, Bristow et al. 1980 (p.274).

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