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Quarries

Between Yvoir and Spontin, the Bocq valley has always been the site of extensive quarrying operations.
 
The rocks quarried in the Bocq Valley are mainly "SANDSTONE", quarried in the Montfort bedrock, and to a lesser extent, "BLUE STONE", also known as "BOCQ VALLEY PETIT GRANIT".
The sandstone beds and blue stone have long been quarried in the valley: the 17th and 18th-century buildings there were built using these materials. It is however supposed that this quarrying was only occasional in nature, simply to meet local needs.

Large-scale industrial quarrying was developed in Yvoir from 1860 onwards by Mr Alfred DAPSENS. To begin with, Mr Dapsens quarried the slag from the ancient forges in the valley, which was sent to the Charleroi region and remelted in coke furnaces.
The first large-scale quarrying operation in Yvoir involved the blue stone beds at the St-Roch quarry, which is still active, located to the left of the part of rue du Redeau which lies between Yvoir castle and the old quarry offices.
The Yvoir sandstone quarries, on either side of the Bocq, were very quickly greatly extended, mainly for the manufacture of setts. Alfred Dapsens was the successful bidder for supplying batches of setts to pave the streets of several cities: Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, Verviers and foreign cities such as Paris, Berlin and Kraków.

The quarrying was also a success for the inhabitants of Yvoir for whom it was a reliable source of work; at that time, 500 workers, including 300 sandstone dressers, worked in Yvoir, where there were a total of 18 sett workshops.

Due to the rapid growth of his quarries, Monsieur Dapsens was obliged to find a means of transport to take his goods to the North Belgium Railway lines and the Meuse. So it was that in 1876, he had a narrow-gauge railway built. This very quickly proved insufficient and was replaced in 1882 by a larger-gauge railway. The first locomotive was used on this private line in 1884. Previously, the wagons had been drawn by horses.

Today, the Dapsens quarries still produce St-Roch blue stone, the blocks of which are cut into strips, to be processed mainly as dressed stones and "Yvoir sandstone", the blocks of which are made into setts and paving slabs as well as stones and cladding stones for building work.
 
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As you leave the Dapsens quarry and go up the Bocq valley, before the hamlet of Bauche, on the right there is the old St-Edouard marble quarry, from which a highly decorative, mottled grey marble was extracted. This quarry was in operation until the early 1960s.

Along the old Ciney-Yvoir railway, below the villages of Purnode, Dorinne and Durnal, there were a whole host of sandstone quarries for the manufacture of setts, the largest of which was Fivet quarry, which closed in the late 1970s.

At the old station in Chanssin, you can make out the remains of an old blue stone quarry, with the old offices and the water turbine, admirably restored and converted by a Brussels entrepreneur who has bought the entire quarry.
 
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Going back up the Chanssin road, we arrive at "Les Nutons" quarry, which is named after the neighbouring cave. This quarry used to produce 'petit granit', with a completely identical grain to that quarried at St-Roch in Yvoir which is similar to limestone.
As in Yvoir, lime kilns were built to use the waste.

Here is a short explanation of how lime was manufactured. First of all, wood faggots were poured into huge hoppers lined with refractory bricks. Pit wagon loads of fine coal brought by railway were added. Next, a layer of blue stone rubble was added, followed by a layer of coal and another layer of stone. These kilns burned night and day. The lime was removed via openings at the base and taken by wheelbarrow to the long wagon trains which transported it to the steelworks.
 
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Further along the Chanssin road towards the springs at Spontin, on the right, two small sandstone quarries were opened to work on the many veins in the outcrops.

At the end of the Chanssin road on the right lies the Les Marteaux sandstone quarry, which is still operated by Dapsens quarries, producing fine grey-blue blocks for the manufacture of setts.
 
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We then move on to the village de Spontin, and just after the springs, there is a sandstone quarry on the left: La Rochette quarry. Here setts and facing stones were cut. Later, a powder mill was built here; it was used by the Germans during the Second World War. The quarry was closed down in 1985, the last operator being SETIM from Arlon.

Just outside the village of Spontin, there were lime kilns and a petit granit quarry. This quarry was known as the "Grande Carrière" and was operated by a certain Mr. Brison.

The "Grande Carrière" acquired all the latest technology. Motive power was by means of a water turbine linked to the Bocq by a flume. This quarry has been producing stone since time immemorial. Its stones were used to build Spontin castle and Dinant court house.

When you arrive at the houses on the outskirts of Spontin, you can still see the flume for the old watermill behind Matagne garage. Going towards Dinant, just before the village of Dorinne, there is a blue stone quarry, known as the Trou des Chats.

As this quarry did not have a sufficient water supply for cutting stone, a triangular-shaped channel was built from planks nailed together. This channel started at "Terre-Madame" fountain and crossed roads and countryside before reaching the quarry. The columns at Dorinne church were made using stone quarried here.

The quarry is now operated by NUTONS.

This is the last quarry on our circuit from Yvoir to Spontin; we hope you have had a pleasant time exploring these sites, some of which are still working and others which have been reclaimed by nature.

For more information:

CARRIERES DAPSENS d'YVOIR s.a.
Rue de la Gayolle, 1
5530 Yvoir
082 61 16 10 
E-mail: bXB5LmRhcHNlbnNAd2luLmJl 
Website: www.mpydapsens.be 

NUTONS CARRIERES s.a.
Route de la ferme de Mont
5530 Dorinne
083 69 95 81