It is well ascertained that the Derbyshire lead-mines were worked by the Romans, and probably by the Britons. They are chiefly in the wapentake of Wirksworth, and the lower part of the Peak, as far north as Castleton. There are lead mines also in the parishes of Ashover, Crich, and Calke, and lead-ore has been found in Turndich and Mugginton. The whole number of lead-mines, enumerated by Mr. Farey in his Agricultural Survey, amounts to about 250; of which number, twenty-two are stated to produce an abundant supply of ore. (fn. 5) Pilkington states, that the mines in the wapentake of Wirksworth yielded 1306 tons of lead in 1782, those in the parish of Crich, 200 tons. The Ashover mines, he states, had then produced 2011 tons annually for six years, and the Gregory mine alone, in that parish, from 1758 to 1783, 1511 tons annually. (fn. 6) The annual quantity produced from the High-Peak mines, he estimates at 2000 tons, and the whole of the annual quantity raised in Derbyshire, at between 5 and 6000 tons. Of late years, not above half that quantity has been raised, many mines having ceased working on account of the low'price of lead. (fn. 7) The most productive mine of late years has been the Gang-mine in the liberty of Cromford, in the parish and wapentake of Wirksworth. (fn. 8)
The mines in the Peak and in the wapentake of Wirksworth belonged to the crown at an early period. The Survey of Domesday mentions three mines at Wirksworth, and one in each of the manors of Crich, Ashford, Bakewell, and Mestesford. The King's mine at Wirksworth was granted to Robert del Don by Edward I. (fn. 9) : that of Crich, which had been granted by King John to Hubert Fitz-Ralph, was confirmed by Edward II. to Roger de Belers in 1325. (fn. 10) The Devonshire family have long been lessees of the mines in the hundred of High-Peak. The lease of those in the wapentake of Wirksworth, was in the family of Rowles, and having been lately sold under a decree of chancery, is now vested in Richard Arkwright, Esq.
Fluors of various colours are found in several of the Derbyshire mines. These fluors are much used for promoting the fusion of brittle and churlish ore: the yellow spar from Crich is used at the iron-works at Butterley and Somercotes. The more beautiful specimens of fluor called Blue-John, are wrought into vases and various ornamental articles of furniture, &c. at the manufactory in Derby.
The limestone of this county may be esteemed as a valuable article of produce. Mr. Farey enumerates 46 quarries of it, and 63 kilns in which it is burnt for sale. Great quantities are sold at these kilns, chiefly for agricultural purposes, for the use of this and some of the neighbouring counties. The largest quarries are at Ashover, Crich, and Calver near Baslow. Considerable quantities of lime are sent from Calver into Yorkshire, and from the neighbourhood of Btixton into Cheshire and Staffordshire. Nearly 30,000 bushels of lime have been sold yearly for manure at the Knitaker lime-kilns, in the parish of Barlborough. (fn. 26)
Mr. Farey enumerates 138 stone quarries in Derbyshire, some of which produce an ashlar of a good and durable quality for building. Some excellent specimens of these are seen in the principal seats and public edifices in the county; and great quantities are exported, particularly from the mill-stone grit quarries in the parish of Crich. Grindstones made of the mill-stone grit are in great request, and are exported in great quantities by the canals to the south-east parts of England. Of late there has been a great demand for the coarse grind-stones from Gregory quarry at Overton in Ashover. Mr. Farey enumerates 19 quarries in Derbyshire, from which the grind-stones are procured. Coarse whet-stones for sharpening scythes, called scythe-stones, are procured from 13 quarries in this county; the finer whet-stones from seven others. The finest whet-stones, called hones, for setting a fine edge on knives, razors, &c., are procured from quarries at Conor-park and Woodthorp near Wingerworth. The Heage whetstones are used by the petrefaction workers at Derby.
(5) The productive mines are stated to be in the parishes or chapelries of Ashover, Matlock, Cromford, Wirksworth, Bonsall, Youlgrave, Elton, Winster, Hnpc, Eyam, Great-Longsdon, and Monyash.
(6) The lead raised from the Gregory mine, from 1758 to 1806, when the concern was given up, produced a clear profit of 100,000l. after expending upwards of 23,000l. in making trials for the discovery of new veins, &c.
(7) In the year 1808 it was from 351. to 401. per Hull-fodder, from which it has gradually fallen to between 16 and 181.
(8) From the information of Mr. William Milnes of Ashover.
(9) Pat. Rot. 3 Edw. I. 29.
(10) Pat. Rot. 19 Edw.II. pt.i. 16.
(26) Farey's Survey, vol. ii. p. 410.
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