The Water Colour Village is situated on the site of an old fine sand quarry (Holmethorpe Gravel Quarry). Quarrying in the area has been going on from Roman times until the early 1960s. The area is rich in mineral deposits including limestone, firestone, sand, gravel, and is one of only three sites in the UK containing Fuller’s Earth. Extensive extraction over this time period has seen limestone and firestone stone used to build several bridges in London (including London Bridge) and was even used in the construction of Westminster Cathedral.
Several “firsts” which happened on the Water Colour site are worthy of mention. Probably the most notable is the connection with Alfred Nobel, (he of "Nobel Prize" fame). On 15th July 1867 the first use of dynamite occurred at Water Colour when Nobel used it to blast stone out of the ground.
The stone quarried at WaterColour had to be transported from the site, and to achieve this efficiently another "first" was achieved. The world’s first public railway was built and run on the WaterColour site!
Fortunately for us, the area’s natural resources eventually ran out and commercial quarrying began to run down in the late 1950s and eventually ceased in the early 1960s. The site lay dormant for many years until a far-sighted developer saw the potential for housing. Planning permission was granted for WaterColour to be built, on condition that the developer also prepared the lagoons to be handed over as a nature reserve to Surrey Wildlife Trust which now shares the site.