Cothill Pitt historical records (compiled on behalf of Save Cothill Pitt)
1. The site, of some 26.63 acres, formerly agricultural land, was shown by an 1815 Tithes map as the property of the Morland family of parsons, farmers, brewers and lawyers. In 1935 most of it was sold to Professor G C Cheshire of Grey Walls, who covenanted against building houses of a value less than £500. Ownership at some point passed to minerals interests and ultimately was bought by Oxford Land Investments Ltd in 2014.
2. Towards the northernmost point of the site, 0.053 acre appears on the 1883-6 and 1899 ordnance maps as Cothill Pitts (with two buildings, no longer existing) and can be seen on an aerial photograph of the early 1950s. This seems to have been acquired by Oxford Land at the same time as the other land. Clearly it was used for mineral extraction well over a century ago.
3. The local planning authority, Vale of White Horse DC, is said to have no planning history of the Cothill Pitt site prior to 2014. Oxfordshire County Council has records (including some transferred from Berkshire in 1974) of a number of local mineral workings, none of which obviously relates to this site. However, those for a site immediately to the west (consent 13128 of 11 January 1972) have an attached plan showing the Cothill Pitt site as subject to consent 8447 of 11 April 1962; see an “area of present restoration” as at July 1974, “working area” and “plant area”. It seems likely that the modern quarrying at Cothill Pitt took place between 1962 and a point possibly in the late 1970’s. It is not known why ‘restoration’ of the “working area” was not pursued; a former local resident has suggested that backfill in the northern part may have been contaminated.
4. The old ordnance maps, and the 1974 plan, but not the Oxfordshire Definitive Rights of Way Map 2006, show a footpath crossing the site. There was a diversion order in 1954. 1962 minutes of the planning committees of Berkshire CC and Abingdon RDC, and the definitive footpath map of North Berkshire 1962, are available for inspection in Reading. Berkshire Record Office has been asked if there are relevant Berkshire CC planning records for 1962. The answer may well be that material was transferred to Oxfordshire (paragraph 3 above).
5. Examination of the Marcham Parish Council minutes from October 1962 to March 1969, and minutes of the Marcham Parish Meeting from 1949 to 1984, has failed to reveal any reference to the site or mineral workings. Parish Council minutes for years immediately preceding and succeeding 1962-69 do not appear to be available.