Draining ruled out, but Gullet Quarry, near Castlemorton in the Malvern Hills, should never be the same again

Draining ruled out, but danger quarry should never be the same again

DANGEROUS: Gullet Quarry

VICTIM: Justas Juzenas

VICTIM: Russell O'Neill

First published in News by

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.

Comments (7)

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6:15pm Wed 22 Jan 14

Geoffery1966 says...

This old cherry again ! Listen to the 68% leave it as it is, put up a couple more signs and let that be an end to it.
If idiots still wish to swim in it then so be it, the wonders of natural selection can take place ! After all any moron who wants to swim there after all the drowning's would only create little versions of themselves :-)
This old cherry again ! Listen to the 68% leave it as it is, put up a couple more signs and let that be an end to it. If idiots still wish to swim in it then so be it, the wonders of natural selection can take place ! After all any moron who wants to swim there after all the drowning's would only create little versions of themselves :-) Geoffery1966
  • Score: 21

7:12pm Wed 22 Jan 14

DOEPUBLIC says...

'Those people who may be at risk will then be able to make a balanced and informed decision about their actions and behaviours.'

Sounds like suitable duty of care to me. Unless of course the person is at risk, when hopefully, the community will be aware enough and compassionate enough to intervene.
'Those people who may be at risk will then be able to make a balanced and informed decision about their actions and behaviours.' Sounds like suitable duty of care to me. Unless of course the person is at risk, when hopefully, the community will be aware enough and compassionate enough to intervene. DOEPUBLIC
  • Score: 5

8:13pm Wed 22 Jan 14

psychoflump says...

Yay! Let's erect a monument to stupidity. FFS leave the place be, it's no more dangerous than the river Severn, any sea, or busy road.
Yay! Let's erect a monument to stupidity. FFS leave the place be, it's no more dangerous than the river Severn, any sea, or busy road. psychoflump
  • Score: 13

11:08pm Wed 22 Jan 14

Bufton Tufton says...

The Gullet Quarry is not deadly and the water is not icy, at least not during the heatwave weather when most people congregate. A few years ago a swimmer used it to train for a cross channel swim and I have swum there myself. Treat it with respect and common sense and there is no problem. Unfortunately many of the young people who head there in the summer get stoned out of there minds on cheap booze before jumping ( often from some height ) into the water; water and alcohol do not mix. How many lives has the A449 claimed I wonder? Perhaps parents might think on this before buying a car as a present for their offspring as soon as they are old enough to drive.. The problem is that if the Gullet becomes inaccessible these irresponsible youths will head for the River Seven, now that CAN be a dangerous stretch of water. There are no tides or currants to speak of in the Gullet. What happened recently was obliviously a tragedy and I suppose that if the Gullet is like jam to wasps, the Conservators will have to do something if it means that by discouraging stupid behavior, lives can be saved but it is a shame for everyone else.
The Gullet Quarry is not deadly and the water is not icy, at least not during the heatwave weather when most people congregate. A few years ago a swimmer used it to train for a cross channel swim and I have swum there myself. Treat it with respect and common sense and there is no problem. Unfortunately many of the young people who head there in the summer get stoned out of there minds on cheap booze before jumping ( often from some height ) into the water; water and alcohol do not mix. How many lives has the A449 claimed I wonder? Perhaps parents might think on this before buying a car as a present for their offspring as soon as they are old enough to drive.. The problem is that if the Gullet becomes inaccessible these irresponsible youths will head for the River Seven, now that CAN be a dangerous stretch of water. There are no tides or currants to speak of in the Gullet. What happened recently was obliviously a tragedy and I suppose that if the Gullet is like jam to wasps, the Conservators will have to do something if it means that by discouraging stupid behavior, lives can be saved but it is a shame for everyone else. Bufton Tufton
  • Score: 13

12:36am Thu 23 Jan 14

voledog says...

"SAFETY experts are calling for a raft of new safety measures"...some sort of raft would certainly be useful.
"SAFETY experts are calling for a raft of new safety measures"...some sort of raft would certainly be useful. voledog
  • Score: 6

10:51am Thu 23 Jan 14

WhyBother says...

'swimming in the lake is illegal under Conservators’ by-laws.'

Illegal to what extent? Can people be arrested? If so, start arresting a few?
'swimming in the lake is illegal under Conservators’ by-laws.' Illegal to what extent? Can people be arrested? If so, start arresting a few? WhyBother
  • Score: 0

8:09pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Mr Analysis says...

This again, stop trying to nanny people if they are stupid enough to jump in let them. You put signs up, you have warned people time and time again even the schools locally tell people the dangers.

If people still ignore all the signs and advice it's there fault no yours or anyone else's let them jump.
This again, stop trying to nanny people if they are stupid enough to jump in let them. You put signs up, you have warned people time and time again even the schools locally tell people the dangers. If people still ignore all the signs and advice it's there fault no yours or anyone else's let them jump. Mr Analysis
  • Score: 2

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