© Charlie Hoare
A chalk grassland reserve with some unique habitats.
Brockham Limeworks lies within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its unique wildlife habitats.
Decades of industrial chalk quarrying have shaped the land, and many of the plants only exist because of the chalk. The old chalk quarry lies within the centre of the site.
Once the area bustled with activity. A network of narrow gauge rail tracks carried the chalk to two batteries of lime kilns. Here the chalk was burned to produce quick-lime, used to make mortar and fertilisers. The site reached its peak at the end of the Victorian times and digging continued until 1936. Since then the deep scar in the landscape has gradually been reclaimed by nature.
The old railway cuttings, spoil heaps and chalk faces have been colonised by many interesting plants and animals. The derelict remains of the lime kilns, now a grade II listed building, still stand and provide a winter roost for as many as eight species of bat.
Part of what was the quarry floor has become species rich chalk grassland. Many interesting plants can be seen here such as rock-rose, vipers bugloss and many orchid species.
The chalk face reflects sun light into the quarry and helps to maintain a warmer ambient temperature than the surrounding countryside. This is beneficial to the many butterfly species found on site. Of particular interest is the silver-spotted skipper which is found at only a few sites in the south of England.
Brockham and Betchworth Limeworks Restoration Project
The Brockham and Betchworth Limeworks Restoration Project has recently been established. The aim of the Project is to reveal, consolidate
and preserve lime kiln structures so they are effectively managed for future generations, conserve and enhance habitat within the kilns for a
range of bat species and improve visitor access and interpretation facilities.
Species and habitats