This film is part of Free

Stone Harvest

Refugees from the Second World War literally put their shoulder to the wheel to produce materials to help farmers feed the population and builders with building them new homes.

Non-Fiction 1949 9 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


Why would a dentist’s secretary and her dentist husband from Leeds bother to film the workings of a limestone quarry in Threshfield, North Yorkshire? Well, for filmmakers extraordinaire Betty and Cyril Ramsden it was just something they would do; and, like the pioneers of the Documentary Film Movement of the time, they do so in a way that makes the workings of Settle Limes Limited in 1949 highly engrossing, and winning a Certificate of Merit from the Leeds Camera Club.

Betty and Cyril Ramsden, members of Leeds Cine Club, began making films in 1945 and continued into the 1960s. Limestone was formed at Threshfield through countless shells of sea creatures over millions of years, producing various kinds of limestone with different uses: mainly lime made in the kiln for mortar, and fertilizer. Quarrying began here in the 17th century, but it wasn’t until John Delaney started with his Settle business in the early 20th century that it became large scale. Italian and German prisoners of war worked here and refugees continued working there after the war. In 1964 lime burning ended and the quarry concentrated on crushed stone and agricultural limestone, before winding up in 2005.