Rockwood Pigments, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, June 2019

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People's Republic of South Yorkshire.
1. The History
The works are located on the east bank of the River Derwent, immediately to the north of Matlock Bath, and are accessed from a metalled road off the main approach to Matlock Bath Railway Station or via footbridge over the river from Dale Road (A6).

The site was originally known as Viaton and was established for the mining of iron ore in the first half of the 1800s. When this was exhausted in 1850, Lead carbonate or “white lead” (a pigment used in white paint since the 4th century BC) was ground by a water-wheel of 80 horse power, capable of raising 1, 000 gallons an hour.

At the end of the century in 1900, the Via Gellia Colour Company then took the works over and installed a turbine to drive four pairs of Peak stones to grind-up iron oxide. After that, bone char (the waste product from sugar refining) was ground until the late 1960s. The works were then used for the blending of pre-ground chemically-produced colour products for use in paving slabs and other cement products.

Finally, the site became part of the Rockwood group and although they closed the site down when they revised their operations, they went on to change their name to Huntsman Pigments and Additives, and are currently the second largest manufacturer of iron oxide colour pigments in the World.

The site also contains the entrance to Side Mine, a former lead mine. It was opened up as a Show Cavern between 1825 and 1845. Mining finished in 1844 when the owner gave up his attempts to drain the workings of water. The red colour on the walls and roof comes from residue from the pigment factory when excess pigment was blown into the mine via ventilation fans.

The Former High Tor Colour Works site, which covers approximately 4 acres, is currently up for sale on a freehold basis which includes part of the river bed although Heights of Abraham have reserved rights in respect of their cable cars that pass over the site restricting any development within 10m either side of the centre line of the cables.

2. The Explore
Been meaning to do this place for ages but never seemed to get around to it. Finally though, managed to explore it with two non-forum members one morning, albeit on a slightly rushed schedule.

There’s two ways in. One involves spikes, the other doesn’t so this was an easy choice. Once in it’s a relaxed wander. The place is pretty well worn and there’s nothing of mega interest left. It’s quite photogenic though and there’s so fab graff throughout the place. There’s also two mines here that make the place a bit more special. We had a quick peek in the old lead mine but only went as far as the giant game of jenga. For a good look at both mines see @Tarkovsky and his excellent report HERE. The mine that has its entrance in the factory itself we game a miss as it’s really dusty and we didn’t have the gear or the time. So if you’re in the area add it to your list along with Permanent Asphalt, the pair of sites that make a trip out to this lovely bit of Derbyshire worthwhile.

3. The Pictures

The main factory space roller blind:

48094851011_9fb6ca26a5_b.jpg img1340 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And we’re in:

48094961586_4d5fecbbe2_b.jpg img1322 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Factory roof:

48094963667_07acb1f16c_b.jpg img1338 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Factory roof 2:

48094966367_230b76e306_b.jpg img1337 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Not too sure what this is:

48094915213_eacba04692_b.jpg img1335 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Like this large piece (can’t remember the artist’s name)

48094978697_e1be7fc129_b.jpg img1334 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48094911746_281200cfcc_b.jpg img1328 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48095026637_ba0e6c417e_b.jpg img1327 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Some sort of grinding gear:

48088901436_cbca92fbd9_b.jpg Rockwood 11 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The second mine is entranced from here:

48088952803_5e4a4ef9c0_b.jpg Rockwood 08 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48088964208_e09e9652ea_b.jpg Rockwood 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This is a decommissioned cable car!

48095044412_d147e5471d_b.jpg img1325 by HughieDW, on Flickr

A nice bit of Colorquix:

48094918252_2db9e638da_b.jpg img1344 by HughieDW, on Flickr

One for the kids:

48088906331_05ded123c7_b.jpg Rockwood 10 by HughieDW, on Flickr

A nice bit of Brayk:

48088925343_76f8bc3ca6_b.jpg Rockwood 13 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And my fave bit of graff in the whole place:

48094998863_a77c3d5cb5_b.jpg img1323 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The admin bock:

48088869716_0579df4f63_b.jpg Rockwood 16 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48094893591_fd3a8544a9_b.jpg img1331 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48094936082_0aa0243072_b.jpg img1342 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48094704033_3ed486deff_b.jpg img1369 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48094768058_0e6eecbdf7_b.jpg img1364 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Pretty trashed to be honest:

48088896053_b1d2f6900c_b.jpg Rockwood 17 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The famous washer and dryer:

48088878206_2bbcbcb931_b.jpg Rockwood 15 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The now smashed-up wash-rooms:

48088981632_b3ae721869_b.jpg Rockwood 14 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48094833813_fa7ac839dd_b.jpg img1360 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And another coloquix:

48094752761_3d90688598_b.jpg img1362 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Looking towards the factory complex from admin:

48094824568_3df0cdc143_b.jpg img1361 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The Electrics room:

48094643451_a92c74f846_b.jpg img1368 by HughieDW, on Flickr

48094782607_43ce96801b_b.jpg img1367 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The High Tor Grotto show cave entrance. Looks like someone never called the hot-line:

48094866623_ac12aa1209_b.jpg img1343 by HughieDW, on Flickr

In we go:

48088998013_83c6498eaf_b.jpg Rockwood 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And a bit further:

48089054257_c8c96aaed4_b.jpg Rockwood 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

As far as we went in the mine:

48094796866_ae2ac71a7e_b.jpg img1353 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Factory doors slowly rusting away:

48094804631_6f104defbd_b.jpg img1352 by HughieDW, on Flickr

More wacky graff:

48094766136_915d128ea3_b.jpg img1365 by HughieDW, on Flickr


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Nice mate. I enjoyed my trip here. And looks like some new graffiti there.