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Delving along the Derwent

Delving along the Derwent

Glossy new book on the history of 200 Derbyshire quarries and the people who worked them

THIS glossy new book, packed with pictures, traces the pattern of quarry workings from prehistoric times to the present day across a 20-mile stretch of Derbyshire and the Peak District between Derby and Matlock and around Wirksworth.

The quarries in this area were critical during the Industrial Revolution, with their ready access to tough and pure stone resources putting them in pole position to serve the nation, and together they still produce around 2.5 million tonnes of stone every year.

A chronological review of significant developments prior to industrialization is followed by a gazetteer which tracks, in great detail, 175 sites. This is supplemented by accounts of players in the industry and their roles, and dynastic accounts of eight major families.

An introduction serves as a mini ‘how to do it’ manual, whilst other sections analyse millstone and grindstone making from earliest to recent times and briefly describe paint production as well as the industry’s geological origins.

That Stephenson produced lime at Crich to mop-up unsaleable small coal from his collieries; that the Barton family, famed for their bus company, were previously important in the local quarrying industry; and that Middleton limestone mine has 40km of tunnels large enough for a double-decker bus to pass through, are among the wealth of factual nuggets contained within the book.

The book project – one of more than 60 within the DerwentWISE initiative managed by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund – was supervised by Ian Thomas, retired director and initiator of the National Stone Centre at Wirksworth, whilst most of the extensive research work was carried out by the Delvers, which began as a group of about a dozen specialists in fields largely unconnected to the subject covered.

Commenting on the project, the Duke of Devonshire said: ‘…a fascinating new book….many congratulations on all the work you have achieved, almost as testing as herding cats, but so enormously worthwhile.’

Whilst the lottery funding met the cost of a limited print run of ‘Delving along the Derwent’, meaning initial copies are available free of charge, the production and distribution of further copies is not covered, so recipients are invited to donate £15.00–20.00 per copy towards National Stone Centre funds.

For further information or to order a copy of the book, contact delving project co-ordinator Ian Thomas on tel: (01332) 833385 or email: [email protected]. Alternatively, contact Lisa Witham at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust on tel: (01773) 881188 or email: [email protected]

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