SAFETY experts are calling for a raft of new safety measures to prevent more deaths occurring at a dangerous quarry in the Malvern Hills.
The long-awaited report by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says fencing, thick vegetation and new warning signs should all be used as barriers to keep people out of Gullet Quarry.
It also suggests a permanent memorial is created at the site as a lasting reminder of the lives the quarry has claimed.
But – despite calls from some members of the public for radical action – the icy cold lake should remain and not be drained or filled in, says the report.
Malvern Hills Conservators commissioned the report after two young men drowned in the lake in the space of a week last summer.
A RoSPA consultant tal-ked to emergency services and visited the quarry twice.
During one visit, accompanied by Conservators wardens, he found several young adults drinking alcohol at about 11am.
“Clearly, these groups were fully aware of the expectations of no swimming and were not interested in complying with the requests,” he said.
However, the report concludes that: “Filling in the quarry is not considered viable for physical, economic and ecological reasons.
“Draining the quarry would be fundamentally difficult, expensive and ruin the ecological profile of the SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).”
Conservators chairman Helen Stace told the Gazette she is backing its findings of the report.
“We have been very saddened by the deaths that have occurred and we want to do whatever is practicable to prevent similar tragedies happening,” she said.
And Malvern’s mayor ,Julian Roskams, himself a Conservators board member, said: “The recommendations seem to strike a sensible balance between making people more aware of the hazards presented by the lake and of keeping this beauty spot accessible.”
It is thought implementing all the recommendations will cost about £5,000.
But Conservators director Stephen Bound said cost has never been a primary consideration.
“Our brief to RoSPA was to look at all of the options, and come back with what they think are realistic measures that will have an impact on safety,” he said. “We told them that if they came back with something that we thought was expensive to implement, we wouldn’t mind because safety is a priority.”
The report summary states: “These recommendations will retain the natural beauty of the site and mean that visitors are made fully aware of the risks involved in gaining access. Those people who may be at risk will then be able to make a balanced and informed decision about their actions and behaviours.”
In an online poll on our website malverngazette. co.uk, 68 per cent of readers wanted the site kept open, 21 per cent said it should be drained and 11 per cent wanted it fenced off.
Dark shadow that looms over the hills
BEAUTIFUL but deadly Gullet Quarry has claimed eight lives since quarrying stop-ped there in the early 1970s.
Despite the deaths and many warnings about the dangers of the icy cold water, people have persisted in swimming there for decades.
The site, close to Castlemorton Common, was one of a number of quarries dug into the Malvern Hills from the early 20th century when the increasing popularity of motor vehicles meant more demand for stone to improve roads.
After quarrying ceased in the 1970s, the basin filled with natural spring water and Malvern Hills Conservators carried out planting and landscaping works to mitigate the damage done by the quarrying work.
Since then the quarry has become increasingly popular, especially in hot weather, attracting visitors from all over region.
The lake is mentioned in books and online guides written by wild swimming enthusiasts, even though swimming in the lake is illegal under Conservators’ by-laws.
The quarry is within the Malvern Hills Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is considered to be of national importance geologically, with some of the oldest rocks in the Malvern Hills visible there.
But despite its scientific significance, the quarry is most renowned for the tragedies that have occurred there.
The first recorded death there was that of 11-year-old Phillip Hartland in 1973.
An eight-year-old boy drowned in 1979, and the quarry was also the site of a possible suicide of a 55-year-old woman in the 1980s.
There were deaths in 1995 (Clifford James, aged 25), 2001 (Yunus Ismail Moola, aged 17) and 2002 (Andrew Pendlingham, aged 17).
Then last July’s double tragedy struck, as 17-year-old Russell O’Neill and 22-year-old Justas Juzenas drowned within the space of a week.
There are also a further four recorded incidents of people having their lives saved after being rescued from the quarry.
A 21-year-old man was rescued in September 1996 and a 24-year-old man in June 1995. Two girls were rescued that same summer and a man in his 20s was rescued in 2004.
Public warnings, detailed in Malvern Gazette archives, have been repeatedly put out by firefighters and other bodies.