The operators of a West Norfolk quarry held a family fun day at the weekend to mark 125 years of sand extraction work at the site.
More than 500 people took the opportunity to explore Sibelco’s Leziate site on Saturday.
Attractions included 4x4 tours, the chance to pilot a £60,000 bulldozer simulator, interactive glassblowing and an archeological display charting more than 6,000 years of human activity in West Norfolk.
Fun fair rides, a bouncy castle and falcon display were also laid on as was face painting, competitions, crafts and advice on water and quarry safety.
Several community groups also joined in the celebrations, including representatives of the Holly Meadows School, Pott Row, who ran a jolly bottle stall.
Headteacher Rachel Williams said: “We’re here fundraising for the school and to help Sibelco who are very good at supporting us.
“They’ve helped us with safety around the quarries, fundraising for children’s sporting kit and generally they’re around to help with things such as the planting of forest trees we’ve done together.”
Committee members representing Leziate, Ashwicken and Bawsey Village Hall staged a tombola and raffle to help fund improvements while Reffley Reds FC, whose kit is sponsored by Sibelco, challenged visitors to a penalty shootout competition.
Although many people who attended the open day had some idea of what went on beyond the gates, many were surprised at the scale of the operations which stretch from Leziate to the A47 near East Winch
But Natka Banns, who has lived in Ashwicken for the past 15 years and visited with her son Adrian, nine, and partner Andrew, had no idea there was a quarry on her doorstep until last month when she stopped for a train carrying sand.
“I was lost for words,” she said following her tour. “It is incredible.”
Site manager Simon Mace said: “It’s been fantastic to see so many people. The feedback has been really encouraging and we thank everyone who took part.
“Normally, because safety is our number one concern, we do everything we can to deter people from entering the site so it’s been a real pleasure for once to show off what we do and explain the vital part we play in Britain’s manufacturing industries.
“The history books tell us that quarrying has taken place here for at least 125 years, contributing to the local economy and providing jobs for generations of families.
“I’d like to think that, as one of the country’s very few sources of high quality silica sand, we’ll be here for many years yet to come.
“We’re proud of our staff, determined always to be good neighbours and delighted to be part of a community that seems so supportive of what we’re doing.”