Derby Daily Telegraph 4 March 1897
A Derbyshire hill on the move
The Midland Mainline Jeopardised
Considerable consternation prevails in mid-Derbyshire in consequence of a hill in the vicinity of Whatstandwell, and in close proximity to the Midland Railway Company’s mainline to Manchester, showing alarming signs of sliding. The hill, which is locally known as Crich Carr, comprising the sandstone deposits worked under the name of the Duke’s Quarries, has ever since the recent earthquake shown signs of moving. It would appear from their own accounts that the people inhabiting the district felt the seismic shock to a much more appreciable extent than is related in other parts of the county, and since then on the sandstone tips and in the quarries fissures have appeared some three or 4 inches wide, and at one place, near Mr Stone’s extensive sawmills, the ground has altogether subsided a yard. The matter did not, however, receive at his early stage the attention which is now being devoted to it. The Midland Railway Company began to make an examination, being concerned for the safety of their traffic over the Manchester and Derby mainline, which runs by at Whatstandwell. On the opposite side, from the old railway depot, there is a huge embankment of sandstone walling, 30 foot high, extending a distance of 25 to 30 yards from the mouth of the Whatstandwell tunnel, which passes under the highway. It was found that this wall was pushed out of its position, and also that the curvature of the railway had moved at least an inch. It was, therefore, found necessary to take precautions at once, and all trains passing through were “slowed” down. Between the rails, in the six-foot way, the company have placed heavy stonework, and on the top a large quantity of heavy iron rails. At the back of the 30 foot wall is the Cromford and Langley Mill Canal, which belongs to the railway company, and the towpath and the road above all show signs of movement. The Midland Railway Company at once saw the difficulty, and though, of course, absolutely powerless to prevent a slip if such was the reading of the signs of movement, set about endeavouring as far as possible to minimise its
effects. They put about 50 men at work, and we understand they have been excavating the portion of land lying between the breast wall and the canal, the traffic on the canal being suspended at this point. The work is proceeding day and night, and has been for the last three weeks. A distance of about 20 feet is taken out, to a square of 12 feet, and in this area huge pieces of sandstone cemented in with Portland cement up to the surface again; and it is intended to work this out the whole of the distance where it is thought to be unsafe. The work is under the superintendence of Mr Bird, of Ambergate, the district engineer. In the filling up process, besides the huge blocks of stone, small cut limestone is used. It is uncertain as to how long this work will continue, and every movement of the earth is most carefully watched. It is noticeable in the archway of the tunnel over the railway that the masonry has somewhat given way. At the houses close at hand some noticeable changes in the earth and buildings have been observed, and at the Derwent Hotel the water supply has completely disappeared by the movement of the hill. The stoppage on the canal has caused a great delay in the carriage of materials to the Cromford Wharf, and strong representations to the company having been made by the merchants they promised that if all goes well they will refill the canal two or three days next week, to allow the traffic to be relieved. Even now the work carried on by the Midland Company may prove unsuccessful in staying the movement of the hill, as the natural fall is towards the River Derwent, which lies below the railway some hundred yards away. Should work fail there is believed to be no alternative but to lay another set of rails on the other side of the valley of the Derwent, out of reach of the Crich Hill, which is always been a source of danger, although this slipping has hitherto been more observable at the summit of the 800 feet hill than the base. The occurrence has caused thousands of visitors to assemble, from far and near, consequent on the alarming report which have got abroad. Even as late as Sunday there was more movement observed. It is a noteworthy fact that the sliding is only a mile or so from the scene of the calamitous landslip at Crich Stand a few years ago, when the entire side of a hill slipped away doing grave damage.