Despite facing indefinite closure back in May, Cromhall Quarry has reopened under new management with Covid-safe restrictions in place.
Back in May, it was thought that Cromhall Quarry in South Gloucestershire was set to close for good. The well-loved training site experienced significant hardship this year and faced indefinite closure.
For those unfamiliar with the renowned training site, Cromhall Quarry is a triangular flooded limestone quarry covering an area of 4 hectares with a maximum depth of 17m. The shallow beach area and various training platforms have provided accessible scuba diving facilities for many over the years.
Battling the elements
At the beginning of the year, the UK experienced the wettest February since records began in 1910, receiving more than twice the monthly average of rainfall. For many of us across the country, the successive storms in February placed diving on hold as Ciara (8-9 February), Dennis (15-16 February) and Jorge (28 February - 1 March) battered the UK with high winds, rainfall and widespread flooding. One of the businesses impacted by the extreme weather was Cromhall Quarry.
As the storms eased, the coronavirus pandemic turbulence reached a peak as the UK was sent into a nationwide ‘lockdown’ on the 23 March 2020. All non-essential businesses were directed to close, including outdoor sports facilities such as Cromhall Quarry. After two months of limited business, Simon Chen and Maggie Alger, who had run Cromhall Quarry for the last fourteen years, were forced to issue a statement advising the site would not re-open once the lockdown restrictions ease:
2020 has been a bad year, with the floods at the start of the year followed by the tragedy of Covid-19, with lockdown preventing access to outdoor facilities.
Sadly, while we were preparing to re-open, we have received some more bad news. We have received formal notice that means that the quarry will close with immediate effect and will not re-open. We are not aware of any future plans for the facility.
South West Maritime Academy
Despite the challenges faced under the current pandemic restrictions, Cromhall Quarry has announced it is to reopen, under the new management of South West Maritime Academy. The maritime training organisation have previously held courses at Cromhall Quarry and are aware of the importance of the site to visitors. In July, John Davies of South West Maritime Academy announced:
I am pleased to let you know that although we were poised to move to another site, we will now be remaining onsite at Cromhall Quarry, and the area including the water body has now been included into our lease.
After much deliberation and seeing just how much the site means to everyone locally, we have decided to re-open to both swimmers and divers.
A positive result for UK divers
Access to facilities such as Cromhall Quarry is vital to the practical training of members and has proved significantly helpful to local clubs returning to diving activities during Covid-19.
New training platforms along with some additional underwater attractions were added to the site in August, ready to welcome divers back.
Cromhall Quarry (also known as Slickstone Quarry) benefits from designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the presence of the well-protected Great Crested Newt, Triturus cristatus. The site also hosts fossils from over thirty different species including reptiles, mammals and the Cromhall dinosaur. The fossils were first identified in 1938, with finds continuing to present day, so it is excellent that we are able to still enjoy the facilities the site has to offer.
While we are sad to say goodbye to the previous owners of the site, the new management of South West Maritime Academy has ensured this site will continue to operate for divers in the future. Please support the Academy by using the site for your training if possible.
Access to Cromhall Quarry during Covid-19
Under the current Covid-19 restrictions, access to the site is limited. At present, it is only open at the weekends, between 08:30 - 16:00. Booking is essential and a maximum of 50 pre-booked individuals are allowed on site.
To book a dive or find out more, check out Cromhall Quarry's website.