1. The History
Lime quarrying has been common in this part of Derbyshire ever since the 1800s. In 1891 fierce competition saw 13 quarry owners consolidate their 17 quarries into the Buxton Lime Firms. They were controlled by four directors who tried to create a monopoly by raising the price of lime. Around the turn of the 20th century they were produced 280,000 tons of lime per year and dominated the industry in Derbyshire. The Cowdale quarry was initially established in 1898 by the New Buxton Lime Co and listed as 'Staden Quarry'. The large stone-built kilns standing 50-foot-high included a network of railway sidings above the A6. The four shaft kilns were taken over by the Buxton Lime Firms in 1908 and, shortly afterwards in 1909, three concrete buildings (the gate-house, power house and ancillary building) were built close to the A6 in a highly unusual 'neo-Egyptian' style.

The firm supplied high quality lime to Brunner Mond who finally bought BLF in 1918. In the mid-1920s concrete buttresses were added to the kilns shortly before the works were merged in 1927 to form I.C.I. Ltd. Quarrying ceased in 1948 but the works remained in operation until 1955 in order to store stone. In the latter part of the 20th century the tramlines were removed and some of the mine's buildings were demolished. The remaining works were left to slowly decay.

The only (very small) archive picture I could find:

BLF by HughieDW, on Flickr

In 1997 English Heritage assessed the quarry as part of its 'Monument Protection Plan', concluding that the site contained 'very impressive remains'. In 2010 a development proposal by Buxton Water to use the site as a water bottling plant and for storage was tabled. It also included plans for the development of a heritage visitor's centre and heritage trail. This required the need for the establishment of improved road access and the subsequent demolition of the powerhouse. The planning application was refused in June 2011 and again on appeal in September 2012. However, the powerhouse was demolished in controversial circumstances in May 2011 just prior to the first planning application on the grounds that the structure was considered 'dangerous' by High Peak Borough Council (Section 80). A pretty tall story given it was built like the proverbial brick shithouse.

This was seen by many as a significant loss in terms of the siteís heritage. The BLF logo on the building was the last that bore such a mark. Shortly after English Heritage scheduled the remaining structures on the site, ensuring the two other BLF buildings and the buttressed kilns were now, thankfully, under statutory protection.

2. The Explore
Not the most spectacular explore but interesting and pretty picturesque one. I love these old industrial heritage sites. Remember driving along the A6, before you reach Buxton the monolithic buildings of the former Cowdale lime works rise up on the hill to the left. Next time I was passing parked up on the layby on the A6 and walked back to the entrance and had a look round. Since the first time here back in 2014 Iíve been back twice. The most recent visit was during Autumn. The leaves are off the trees and the place reveals itself to the road. Itís an easy access and relaxed explore. The first time I came I remember looking for the powerhouse and being puzzled why we couldn't find it (we didn't know it had been demo'ed at that stage). Then, the second time we came across a very big pile of rubble where on one stone, you could still make out the BLF initials.

Explored with two non-member mates of mineÖ

3. The Pictures:

The first structure you come to is the gatehouse clearly visible from the A6:

img9336 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Inside itís a shell:

img9341 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9345 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9411 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This was once the powerhouse:

img9349 by HughieDW, on Flickr

A second neo-Egyptian building further up the hill.

img9350 by HughieDW, on Flickr

A fist glimpse of the buttressed lime kilns:

img9353 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9354 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Inside the first one:

img9358 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9360 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9359 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And on to the second one:

img9368 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9365 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Cowdale 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Cowdale 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

An old fading Colorquix:

img9369 by HughieDW, on Flickr

How does a copy of Five Starís ďCanít wait another minuteĒ come to be here?

img9372 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9374 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Cowdale 13 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Slightly further along:

img9382 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9377 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Cowdale 12 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Up top:

img9393 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9406 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Part of the old tramway system:

Cowdale 15 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9398bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

And finally, the old boiler. Was it for powering some kind of incline chain?

img9402bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

img9403 by HughieDW, on Flickr