The Middridge Quarry, which lies about 1 km to the south south-east of Middridge Village, adjacent to part of the famous “Stockton and Darlington” Railway, is a small (now disused) Quarry in Magnesian limestone.
The original Middridge Quarry was opened in the nineteenth century to provide stone for the construction of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, but was subsequently closed. A new Middridge Quarry was opened some time after the Second World War, immediately to the east of the first Quarry (incidentally destroying virtually all the remains of the by then disused Eden Pit, and its associated miner’s terraced housing).
Commercial exploitation of this Quarry eventually exposed fossil-rich marl slate. The fossil Flora (Plants) discovered in this slate include the oldest British Ginko (probably the oldest member of the Ginkgoaceae found anywhere in the world), and probably the oldest British Cycad.
(Continued) A new member of the Pteridosperm family was also discovered, which was named Pseudoctensis middridgensis to commemorate where it was found.
Equally famous for its vertebrate Faunas, Middridge Quarry has yielded 11 species of fossil Fish, Reptiles and superbly preserved Invertebrates. Three species of fossil Reptile were collected from the vicinity during the last century: two species of Proterosaurus and a Lepidosaurus. Later finds of bone indicate the potential of the Site for further higher Vertebrate discoveries.
As a result of these finds the Middridge Quarry is now considered the second most important site for fossils from the Permian Era (298.9 to 252.17 million years ago) in the world (after a much larger site in Germany). In 1979 the Middridge Quarry was declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), in order to preserve it intact for the future, and has been disused ever since.
Middridge Parish may be small, and apparently not very important, but we have international significance!