Bolehill Quarry, Padley Gorge, Derbyshire 2015-2021

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HughieD

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1. The History
Bole Hill Millstone Quarry just outside Hathersage and Upper Padley, above Grindleford Station in Derbyshire. Millstones have been produced in the county since at least the 13th century. The eastern edges of Millstone, Burbage and Stanage were all extensively quarried. Bole Hill was chosen for quarrying due to the quality of the rock and millstones, grindstones and crushing stones were made here for over 600 years. In medieval times the local stone was used for millstones for grinding flour but then when the move to white bread came, gritstone fell out of favour due to it making the flour grey. From then on, the stones were used for industrial grinding. Eventually this market collapsed due to cheaper imports from France. The quarry was almost abandoned overnight and the pulp-stones we see here today were left in-situ. They were due to be exported to Scandinavia for use in crushing wood into pulp for the paper industry. There would have been some wooden structures at the quarry, but these have long rotted away.

However, the quarry was given a lease of life in 1901, with the passing of the Derwent Valley Water Act and the commitment to construct the Howden and Derwent Dams. Initially the stone was to come from Ladybower Clough, but objections forced the Derwent Valley Water Board to source the stone from elsewhere. Hence in November 1901 the Board purchased 52 acres of land at Bole Hill from Mr Shuttleworth of Hathersage, and the incumbent tenant, Mr Cooper, paid £20. The area was chosen as the beds of stone were near to the surface at an average depth of approximately 65 feet and the quarry face an impressive 1,200 yards long. The estimated 2.4 million tons building stone was considered to be top grade due to the silica and feldspar composition of the millstone grit, making it both perfect and plentiful for the construct the two aforementioned dams.

A standard gauge railway was constructed along the quarry face, which culminated in marshalling area for the trucks. A cutting then led to the summit of the 300-foot incline which ran down the hill to link with the Midland Railway Hope Valley Line. An army of workers were brought in from Sheffield on early morning specials trains while workers from further afar were put up in tin bungalows adjacent to the site, along with a library, recreation room and mess rooms. The quarry commenced operations in 1903 and in its seven and a half years life, more than 1.25 million tons of stone were extracted. Workshops for dressing the large blocks which weighted between 20 and 30 tons were built adjacent to the quarry face. Meanwhile the rubble and filler stone was loaded by two steam-powered cranes straight into specially built trucks, which were then lowered down the incline. Its 1-in-3 gradient made this a hazardous operation and was controlled by a brakeman on the drum of the winding wheel. As each loaded truck was lowered it raised an empty truck up from the bottom. Once at the bottom the wagons were shunted into the sidings before being hauled up the Hope Valley line to the specially constructed "Waterworks Sidings" at Thornhill. They were then taken up the Bamford and Howden Railway by the D.V.W.B. owned locomotives to the construction sites.

OS Map extract showing the incline in relation to Grindleford Station:



By October 1905 there were some 439 men were employed at the quarry, operating two 12-ton cranes, nine 7-ton cranes, one 5-ton crane, three locomotives, the winding drum and the almost 100 tipper wagons. Disaster struck on two occasions when two men were killed whilst working in the quarry. One fell and died from concussion while the other man died in a cutting when three loaded trucks broke loose and careered into an area where around 20 men were working. Production ceased in December 1910 (although some small quantities of stone continued to be quarried and be sent up to Derwent up to April 1914) and the majority of the heavy plant removed from the site in early 1911. The quarry formally closed in September 1914 and the final plant and materials removed. The DVWB had planned to build a housing estate in the quarry workings but this never came to fruition, allowing them the option to quarry the still extensive resources of stone, should the demand arise. There were future developments in 1935, with the construction of the Ladybower Reservoir, but the mainly earth dam meant little stone would be required. Hence the old quarry proved little worth to DVWB who very generously gifted the area to the National Trust in 1947.

The winding drum circa 1904 and to the right, two locomotives standing back-to-back



Looking up the incline with a loaded truck coming down on the left. circa 1904:



Marshalling sidings circa 1910:



2. The Explore
Been coming here for a number of years. Only really dawned on me recently that this place would be worth a report. Looking into the history of the site and it made me realise there was more there than at first thought. It's a fantastic place and although nature has taken the quarry back, with an imaginative eye, you can start to imagine what the quarry would have looked like in its heyday.

3. The Pictures

Starting at the top of the quarry, there are literally hundreds of old millstones piled up::

img2691 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img2648 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img2651 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img2652 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img2661 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img2662 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img2680 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img2689 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Possibly the biggest millstone I saw:

Sandstone quarry 11 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Old stone trough:

Sandstone quarry 13 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And the upper quarry itself:

Sandstone quarry 14 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Stone gable end of an old quarryman's hut:

Sandstone quarry 15 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Slightly further down we come to the old powder house:

Bolehill Store 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill Store 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill Store 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Moving on to where the stone for the dams was quarried:

Bolehill 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This was either a crane base or a loading platform:

Bolehill 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The cutting heading towards the top of the incline:

Bolehill 09 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 10 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 

HughieD

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COND:

The cutting then emerges next to the drum winding house:

Bolehill 11 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 12 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 15 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 16 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Looking down the steep incline:

Bolehill 17 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 19 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 21 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bottom of the incline:

Bolehill 22 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 23 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And the sidings next to where the incline joins the main line:

Bolehill 25 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 24 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 

Roderick

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Very well captured, excellent shots as usual. When I lived near there I used to walk my dog in that area at least once a week.
 

verdigris

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COND:

The cutting then emerges next to the drum winding house:

Bolehill 11 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 12 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 15 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 16 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Looking down the steep incline:

Bolehill 17 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 19 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 21 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bottom of the incline:

Bolehill 22 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 23 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And the sidings next to where the incline joins the main line:

Bolehill 25 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bolehill 24 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 

verdigris

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thanks for the history and nice pics - would love some of those millstones for my garden !
 

Gripper66

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Great shots, and well put together to tell the story. I have not been there for ages, and did not fully understand it all. Now a lot clearer, Thanks.
 

Antar

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Great set of photos - i'd be interested to know what camera are you using?
 

250swb

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A great place to explore and very nice photos. One feature you may have missed (and it's easy to) is the base of a WWII spigot mortar, a round base of concrete with a stainless steel 'spigot' set into it. It was made to defend the railway line down in the valley and a heavy mortar would have been set up if there had been an invasion. If my orientation is correct it's about 100 yards over towards the top right of the photo of the water filled trough.
 

HughieD

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A great place to explore and very nice photos. One feature you may have missed (and it's easy to) is the base of a WWII spigot mortar, a round base of concrete with a stainless steel 'spigot' set into it. It was made to defend the railway line down in the valley and a heavy mortar would have been set up if there had been an invasion. If my orientation is correct it's about 100 yards over towards the top right of the photo of the water filled trough.
Ooooh. I did miss that. But I'll be back as Annie said, so will check it out. Thank you for the heads up!
 
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