Updated 11 Apr 2007
WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900
Aerial photos by Neil France
01 - Wirksworth town centre, looking South-East.
Use the Interactive Map to see the buildings close-up.
02 - Alport heights (SK305-515). A thousand foot hill with a trig point, now
graced by two big radio masts and a motorcross course. Bottom right
is Spout village, 2 miles SE of Wirksworth. Top right is Coneygreave Farm.
The area used to be called Ashleyhay. The gorsey area is National Trust.
03 - Riber Castle (SK309-590), a fine view of the mock gothic ruin built
about 1867 as a summer retreat by the famous John Smedley. Built on the
summit of a steep hill, it is the most eyecatching sight on a visit to
Matlock. The Hydro, built by the same man, is the next most
eyecatching sight. More views and info on X166.
04 - Matlock Bath (SK295-584). The bridge over the River Derwent is
Jubilee Bridge, and top-right is the
Railway station. Across the river,
Matlock Bath faces the highest inland vertical cliff in England.
The A6 follows the river along the Dale.
05 - Bonsall Moor (SK245-600). Looking E along Bonsall Lane at the junction
with Bonsallmoor Lane. The ridge looks down on Winster (left) and is
pockmarked with old lead mine shafts, some said to be still open but all dangerous.
06 - Middleton Top engine House (SK277-552) on the old
Cromford & High Peak Railway. Built in 1828, the CHPR
once had 9 such stationary engines dragging trucks up 1 in 8 inclines.
Middleton Top is now the only engine house still
existing. The railway has been dismantled, and turned into a trailway
for walkers and cyclists.
07 - Cromford Village (SK295-569). The village was rebuilt around 1780 by
Sir Richard Arkwright to house workers
in his new water-powered Cotton Spinning Mill, which introduced the factory
system and changed the world. The Lake in the village centre is behind a dam
which controlled the supply of water to the waterwheels driving the spinning
machines in the factory.
09 - Middle Peak Quarry (SK280-545), 66 acres on the NW edge of Wirksworth town.
Mechanisation in the 1950's greatly
increased production, heavy lorries passing through the town nearly ruined
Wirksworth with vibration, dust and danger. Inactive for 12 years, quarrying
threatens to start again in 2007. Limestone quarrying replaced lead mining
around 1800 when the lead ran out after 2,000 years.
10 - Masson Mill (SK295-573) and River Derwent. Masson mill
was the second built by Sir Richard Arkwright, about 1783. Arkwright also
built himself a fine big house at Willersley, looking
down onto the mill from the other side of the river. 100 years later,
Lawton the manager of Masson also built himself a fine house called
Woodbank, looking down onto the Mill from the other
side of the mill.
08 - Old blackpowder store in Wirksworth quarry. Powder was used
in blasting leadmines long before its use for rockblasting in limestone
quarries, and was well understood. Made from sulphur, charcoal and
saltpetre, it was the only known explosive until around the mid 1800s,
when it was replaced by TNT
Emails on the subject
Stuart Flint writes:
I found the photographs by Mr France most interesting but would point out
that Middle Peak Quarry is not the place known as The Big 'Ole ..The
Big 'Ole was part of Dale Quarry which is to the south of Middle Peak
Photo .09 .Middle Peak is where Bowne & Shaws was sited before Tarmac
took over.. The Dale Quarry owned by Harward later in partnership for
a time with my kinsman George Colledge...Colledge's own Quarry known as
Baileycroft which is below Middle Peak next to what was Stoneycroft
Quarry owned at one time by John Waterfield who was also Landlord for a
time at The Lime Kiln Inn which gained its name from the Lime Kilns in
the yard twixt Baileycroft and Stoneycroft Quarry. Baileycroft now
part of Harrison Drive, named after William John Harrison of my kin who
was Chairman of Wirksworth Urban District Council in the 1930s. As far
as the dust and dirt of quarry workings in the 1950s- up to closure of
local quarrie's.. people as myself who were reared within the sound and
site of quarring (Hopton Wood Stone Middleton) born into the places
where quarrying was a vital part of our community life ..I personally
would not mind seeing in particular Middle Peak re opened..nor for that
matter Middleton Mine
When my wife and I first married we lived within the shadow of Middle
Peak on Cavendish Cottages Cromford Road which we rented from my
kinsman Joseph Flint who had been a Blacksmith / Engineer at Shaws Quarry .
(Joe Grandson of Joseph Flint who played cricket for Derbyshire 1870s )
The field next door to our house bordered the quarry and the Stoneycroft
Railway line into the sidings on Cromford Road..Other than for having to
clean the windows and sills regularly of lime dust..we lived happily near
the works..and of course, it being a local grown industry, it employed
local men..although as my Grandfather and others of my kin were killed
at Killer Bros Quarry Middleton..my father vowed never to let any of
his sons become quarrymen..
Many people move into the Wirksworth area from other places and have
little thought or apparent care as to how the town became prosperous
first with lead and then with the quarrying of limestone gritstone etc..
Wirksworth needs local industry to survive.. With new methods of stone
extraction today..there needs to be little polution created from modern
quarrying.. and that goes also for coal extraction and coal fired power
stations all home produced industries which avoids reliance on other
02 Coneygreave Farm is where my 3XGrandfather John Flint's 1st wife
Anne Peate was born in the late 1760s his 2nd wife on Annes early demise
in childbirth Elizabeth Colledge my true 3XGrandmother they parents
of Samuel Flint who married Mary Killer of the Killer Quarrying family...
Footnote.. Near to Coneygreave Farm is a track
called Peat Lane. Alport Heights is one of my favourinte places ..It is
said that on a clear day the Welsh border can be seen from the Heights..
My Flint and allied family way back in the 1600s lived at The Bent Alport
and Ashleyhay/Shottle and Alderwasley ..
Hope you do not mind me making these comments
Regards Stuart G Flint
Neil France was awarded the General Aviation Safety Award
for 2005 by the Civil Aviation Authority. The citation reads:
In June 2005 Neil France, a private pilot from Matlock, accompanied a
friend who is also a pilot on a local flight from Derby Airfield in an
aircraft type Mr France had not previously flown in. Not long after take
off, the pilot became medically incapacitated with his leg locked on the
controls and the aircraft entered a steep spiral dive. Mr France managed
to take control to regain level flight and, after exchanging headsets
with the unconscious pilot, made contact with Derby Radio for advice
regarding approach and landing speeds. Mr France restrained the pilot,
who regained consciousness just at the point of flare, and safely brought
the aircraft to rest on the runway at Derby Airfield.
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