INTERVIEW: Getting personal with A Tunstead Tarmac director

Viv Russell on site at Tarmac Tunstead
Viv Russell on site at Tarmac Tunstead

A punk rocker at heart, Viv Russell is proud of his quarryman’s journey which began when he was 16.

Viv first became involved with the quarrying industry after he was sponsored to play cricket when he was just a teenager.

Viv Russell playing in Gaelic Bread

Viv Russell playing in Gaelic Bread

Now he is the lime and powders director at Tarmac’s Tunstead operation and oversees the plant - which employs more than 400 people and uses more gas and electricity than all the residents of Buxton put together.

The 55-year-old said: “We are stewards of the land and of the industry , and I’m proud to still be in an industry I enjoy.”

Viv started his career at the Steetley plant in Worksop as a lab technician. He went on to university and obtained a masters in geology.

He said: “When I was just 16 one of the highlights of my job was coming to Buxton and testing the chimneys at Tunstead on their dust emissions, and then having lunch in The Bull I’th’ Thorn Inn.”

He worked at Tunstead for six years and has been in his current role for three years.

Tarmac Tunstead is involved with a variety of projects around the world, from water treatments with the Red Cross on the Ivory Coast in Africa to pulp making in Sweden, and Viv’s work has taken him to Romania and Norway.

When he is not at work he loves holidays in the Lake District, saying: “As a geologist I appreciate the landscape and can see how it has changed.”

Viv is also in an Irish drinking songs band called Gaelic Bread and travels around the country performing at folk music festivals.

“I’m a punk rocker at heart,” he admits.

The band is based in Wrexham, North Wales, where Viv lived with his first wife.

He is also a governor at the largest special needs school in Wales. He said: “I’m dyslexic and I am proud to help others on their journey as I know how tough it can be.”

He was diagnosed at a young age and spent many evenings reading out loud to a retired teacher to get better.

Viv has one daughter from his first marriage who is at university and going to France for a year. He has remarried to Gill, who works as an air cabin crew member.

A love of Buxton and tradition

Viv is part of a quarry site which has been active for 100 years and he says he loves the town.

“The town has been built up around its natural resources, be that stone or water, and being such a big business there is no-one in the area who isn’t touched by the company - be that through people who are employed, where people spend their wages or passing the lorries on the road, we are all one big community,” he explains.

Tunstead is heavily involved with the well dressing festival and works with partner distributor Lomas to provide floats for the parade.

There has also been several exhibitions showcasing archive images of the quarry.

He said: “I think it is very important that we never forget our past, our heritage and what the company is all about.”

To mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Battle of the Somme, when 15 Tunstead workers died, a commemorative poppy was built.