A former brickworks and cement open-pit mine just outside Cambridge is to be filled in with spoil from HS2 tunnels at Old Oak Common. The spoil is being created by the building site at Old Oak Common for the new hub station there, and the tunnels under the area, including the huge crossover cavern being built just to the west of the new station.
Mega-tons of spoil need to be disposed of somewhere, and while Crossrail was able to send its spoil to help create a wildlife reserve in Essex, HS2’s spoil is being used to fill in a disused quarry mine in Cambridgeshire.
The village of Barrington just outside Cambridge has been the site of brickworks since at least the 1840s, but the largest site was to the north of the village, where limestone was mined to be turned into cement.
The open-pit mine closed in 2008, and the old cement kiln was demolished in 2013. An unexpected find was some documents from the site’s old social club, and the discovery that it still had £2,500 in the club’s bank account.
The site is now planned to be a housing development, with 144 houses, but the mine needs to be filled in. This is where HS2 comes into the story – having a lot of spoil that’s looking for a hole to put it into.
The first train carrying 1,470 tonnes of spoil left Willesden just before 4am last Tuesday, snaking its way around North London and then via Stevenage to Foxton, where it reversed onto a freight line up to the former Cemex site.
Over the lifecycle of the project up to seven freight trains per day will depart the Logistics hub at Willesden, without rail freight, they would have needed an estimated one million lorry trips on the roads in the London area alone. One train per day will also arrive at the hub bringing in construction materials, including concrete segments that will be used to construct HS2’s London tunnels.
For the train geeks – the route taken by the first freight train is here.