Recording Derbyshire’s stone industry – meeting 22 October

The National Stone Centre near Wirksworth, Derbyshire, is inviting those involved in quarrying in Derbyshire, now or in the past, to a meeting at the Stone Centre of 22 October. The aim is to record the history of the stone industry in the county.

Everyone is invited BUT… space is limited so booking is essential.

If you or your family have worked in the industry, or you are simply interested, have old photos, documents, memories or tools, do get in touch – even if you can’t make it on the day. Email or call 01629 824833

It is amazing that an industry so important to the county for at least 300 years has not been recorded.

Victory, Prospect, Bold Venture, Perseverance, Potluck - these are just some of the rather optimistic names of Derbyshire quarries. Grin, Topley Pike, Hoe Grange, Dove Holes, Water Swallows, Coxbench, Dunge and Middle Peak, all adopted local place names. The Shaws, Hughes brothers, Hadfield, the Friths, Cantrell-Hubbersty are all families or individuals who played major roles in the industry’s past. But so did the thousands of people who worked in the quarries as getters and fillers, lime burners, drivers, engineers, those on weighbridges or office clerks. They were as significant to the industry as the owners of the land and the operators of the quarries.

Even now, although there is only a handful of operations left, the county continues to be a leading quarrying area.

But a detailed history of this industry has never been written and the National Stone Centre wants to change that.

With a small fund from the University of Nottingham’s Connected Communities scheme, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Stone Centre is taking a first step to record the history of the industry.

Ian Thomas, who has now retired as the Stone Centre’s Director, told NSS: “With annual county output of stone and gravel running as high as 16million tonnes, Derbyshire still tops the UK quarrying league table.

“But its operations, past and even present, are becoming less and less noticed – yet we probably use its products a hundred times every day. There are fascinating stories to be told – everyday life and working conditions, the influence of geology, power struggles, the transporting of stone, changing technologies”.

The National Stone Centre is an independent educational charity, its aim being to tell the Story of Stone across the UK. Large numbers of schools have visited the Centre every year since it opened in 1990. It also offers training in dry stone walling, carving, masonry and other stone conservation skills. It carries out research into stone and provides advice for example on stone sourcing and conservation of geological sites. It has a growing museum collection including reference material on building stones.

National Stone Centre
Porter Lane, Wirksworth, Derbys, DE4 4LS
Tel: 01629 824833