If you are moving house, looking to start a new life in Furzebrook & Church Knowle or retiring to Furzebrook and Church Knowle, we can help you.
A little village in the centre of the clay industry is home to a shimmering blue pool, which draws in visitors from all over.
Furzebrook, which is a couple of miles from Corfe Castle, was once at the very forefront of clay production. The clay would be extracted and sent around the country via the Furzebrook Railway.
These days clay is still dug from around the area, but one clay pit was turned into a visitor attraction in 1935. The pit, in the 25-acre Furzebrook Estate heathland, started life early in the 17th century as a chalk pit. Purbeck ball clay was dug from it from the mid-17th century to the early 20th century and used to make fine ceramics such as pipes, plates, cups and tea pots. The pit became disused before the First World War, but ball clay is still extracted from other pits in the area to this day.
In 1935 it was flooded and turned into a lake. It became known as the Blue Pool due to minute particles of clay suspended in the water, which catch the light and produce a host of colours – the most startling being a pure turquoise.
In 1935 a café was opened there and a museum and gift shop were added later. In 1985 the estate, which includes nature reserves managed by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and a private nature reserve, was declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The nationally rare Dorset heath and marsh gentian are common to the area and grey squirrels, rabbits and badgers inhabit the heath. The estate also supports numerous rare birds, amphibians and reptiles. Visitors may therefore be lucky enough to spot the Dartford warbler or the nightjar. Both of Britain’s endangered and protected reptiles, the green sand lizard and the smooth snake, live here in considerable numbers. There are also many dragonflies and the rare Sika deer.
There are several narrow-gauge railway tracks ¬– a relic from the former Furzebrook Railway. These were used to transport clays from a number of pits on the Wareham to Swanage branch line. Furzebrook is now well known as being the railhead for the oil extracted from the local Wytch Farm oil well.
The railway, also known as the Pike Brothers’ Tramway, was a narrow gauge industrial railway built by John and William Pike.
Their father William had started clay production in Purbeck and become successful, signing a contract with Wedgwood in 1791. The clay was taken by horse to Wareham, from where it was taken by barge on the River Frome to Poole Harbour.
When his sons took over the business and formed the company as Pike Bros. Wedgwood’s success increased demand so much that the horses struggled to keep pace. The nearest competitor, Benjamin Fayle at nearby Norden, had built Dorset’s first railway – the Middlebere Plateway to take his clay to the south shore of Poole Harbour in 1806. Around 1840 the Pike Brothers William Joseph and John William followed suit by building the Furzebrook Railway to Ridge, about half a mile downstream from Wareham. The line was engineered with a continual downhill gradient, and loaded clay wagons were run by gravity, with the empty wagons being hauled back by horses.
William met George Stephenson in Birmingham and became enthused about steam railways, and in 1865 the Pike Brothers bought their first steam train.
Even after steam locomotives were introduced, gravity propulsion was not entirely abandoned. Up to the second world war, a well known sight was a single wagon train carrying clay pit workers back to their homes in Ridge in this way. In 1955 road transport started to be used to transport the clay, and the last use of the Furzebrook Railway was in 1957.
The line’s engine shed at Ridge still exists, and is a listed building.
The brothers are buried at neighbouring Church Knowle, at St Peter’s Church, together with their relatives. William’s seven-year-old son, who drowned in Studland Bay, is buried alongside his father.
William’s other son Warburton was educated at University College London and went on to the Middle Temple where he was certified as a Special Pleader. In 1879 Pike published “Translations from Dante, Petrarch, Michael Angelo and Vittoria Colonna” Pike then went on to be the first person to translate Dante’s Inferno into English in 1881. He is also buried at St Peter’s.
For such a small village it is perhaps surprising that there is a large hall at Furzebrook, offering space for groups and clubs, weddings and conferences.
The two villages share a parish with East Creech. The tiny trio house between them the large hall at Furzebrook, the Margaret Green Animal Sanctuary and the New Inn pub at Church Knowle.
Church Knowle Fete is held in the grounds of the Old Rectory every August.
Properties here tend to be larger detached homes, and often thatched. They are not often on the market, so you have to keep your eye out!
If you’re thinking of moving to Furzebrook and Church Knowle, Armishaws are here to help. We offer a full range of house removal and commercial removal services, including European removals international removals which are fully insured and come with a smile, too!
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Armishaws Removals offers removal and relocation services to all areas in Dorset. We are able to help design a service to fit your every need. With multiple branches nearby, we are the best local choice for all removals in Furzebrook and Church Knowle, with a trusted team always willing to provide a fantastic value service, to put you at rest when moving or storing your possessions. We have extensive experience in helping with moves all across the south of England, and all over the world.
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