which consists of the villages of Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell

Fritchley Mineral Line – Butterley Company

With acknowledgement to Derbyshire Miscellany Vol. III No. 8. 1966: Garlic. S. L. "Further Notes on Crich"

Fritchley Mineral Line

The earliest record of a mineral line in Crich is the old tramway constructed about 1793. This was a subsidiary of the Cromford Canal, the engineers being W. Jessop and J. Outram. The purpose of the tramway was to bring down lime stone excavated at the Old Hilts Quarry (now known locally as Newt’s Pond Quarry) to the canal at Bullbridge where the lime kilns were situated.

The mineral tramway was an unusual gauge (three feet ten inches), The track is now overgrown with weeds and bushes but several stretches can still be travelled. There is a short tunnel near Fritchley Green and the old engine house still stands near the Old Hat Factory, The line of the tramway and the site of the various Quarries can still be traced on the Ordnance Survey maps.
Some contradictory reports are riven of the various forms of transport used by the Butterley Company on this tramway, but-it is fairly certain that at first horses drawing five trams in both directions were the only transport.

Later two self-acting inclines were in use, one from the Old Quarry to the Hat Factory, the second from there to the Wharf and Lime Kilns at Bullbridge, horses being retained for use inside the quarry itself.

In 1813 one of Brunton’s walking steam locomotives constructed at Butterley Ironworks was tried out on this tramway, and it was decided to dispense with horses and use the machine in the quarry.

About 1850 the old Hilts Quarry was abandoned, and new Hilts Quarry, much nearer Crich, was opened out, this necessitated a third self-acting incline from the quarry to a junction with the tramway near the Hat Factory,

During the closing years of the 19th century the old quarry was again used to extract limestone with the two-fold purpose of obtaining as much mineral as possible and of keening the Kilns in work when difficulties arose in the new workings.

The Old Quarry began as an underground working and was later (1808) opened out leaving a short tunnel near the entrance. This tunnel is reputed to have been cut in boulder clay and become unsafe, so that it had to be opened up when it was renamed Klondike, the name giving a clue to the probable time that these events took place.

It is recorded that 30,000 tons of limestone were taken from the Hills Quarry in 1860, The tramway was finally closed in 1935.

At the Easter Session 1827 the Butterley Company obtained a licence for a Powder Magazine at Amber Wharf near Bull Bridge in the parish of Crich. (See Three Centuries of Derbyshire Annals. C.J. Cox.)

Brunton's Walking Locomotive

drawing of Brunton's lococmotiveOn Fritchley mineral railway Brunton's Walking Locomotive was run for several years. This extraordinary machine, patent No. 3,700 (1813), which propelled itself by a pair of 'ski-sticks’, was built at the Butterly works at Ripley in 1813. Its inventor said that it performed very well, at 2½ miles per hour. Farey described the wagons of this line as having wheel of cast iron, with round holes instead of spokes. This was to enable the wheels to be locked by passing a pole through them, when the wagons were being slid down 'hurries’ at the quarry. The poles were moved occasionally so that excessive flats would not be worn on the wheels. Wheels of this kind were used much later on the wagons of George Stephenson's railway from Crich Cliff Quarry to his great battery of lime kilns at Ambergate.

Unfortunately, a similar machine blew up, killing eleven men at a colliery in the north of England and Brunton’s steam engine was withdrawn from service.

Text from an unnamed article

The Tramway

photo of tramway at Fritchley
The mineral railway entering Fritchley

map of mineral railway
Map showing both the Butterley and the Clay Cross mineral railways

photo of Fitz engine
Fitz was one of the engines on the Butterley Line. It was named after Fitzherbert Wright, the Managing Director of the Butterley Company.

hat factory
The Hat Factory is the centre with quarry to the right, in front of the church. Note the tramway line. The Hat Factory was owned by the Butterley Company and used to house its employees.

Evidence of the Butterley tramway through Fritchley

These photographs showing evidence and history of the Butterley line are courtesy of Ian Castledine; we thank him for permission to use his copyrighted images.

Butterley line engine shed
Engine shed near the Hat Factory
blocked bridge on Butterley line
A blocked bridge under the road near to the Hat Factory
looking along rail track to Warner Quarry
Looking along the track towards the Old (Warner) Quarry
level croccing on the Butterley line
Level crossing into Warner Quarry
embankment on the butterley line
Embankment entering Fritchley village
capping stones on embankment wall
Stone sleeper blocks have been used as capping stones
Bridge over road near fritchley
Over bridge at Bullbridge
lime kilns at Bullbridge
Lime kilns at Bullbridge

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