which consists of the villages of Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell

Further Notes on Crich

S.L. Garlic

With acknowledgement to Derbyshire Miscellany Vol. III No. 8. 1966

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.)

Stephenson’s Incline

The quarry at Crich Cliff was worked by the Clay Cross Company, the limestone being carried to the lime kilns on the Cromford Canal by the now abandoned mineral railway which was constructed by George Stephenson in 1841.

This railway was some two and. a half miles long. There were two inclined planes worked by wire rope, the steepest part, some 500 yards long, was said to be the greatest in the country, being a gradient of one in ten; the gauge of this railway was one metre.

Cliff Quarry was closed down and the railway ceased to operate in 1957. Several reasons are given for the closure, one being that the edge of the quarry was now dangerously near Sherwood Foresters Memorial.

The track of the railway has been purchased and recovered by the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society, and Cliff Quarry is the home of the Crich Tramway Museum.

Crich Stand

The first Crich Stand was a circular tower erected by the Hurt family as an Observatory in 1788, It was rebuilt in 1851 by Francis Hurt of Alderwasley or, the site of the previous tower. On July 6th 1882 a landslip occurred at the Quarry owned by Clay Cross Company whereby Cliff House, three cottages and 10 acres of land were destroyed. The landslip reached nearly to the base of the Tower. In 1902 the Tower was struck by lightning and was closed to the public.
The present Beacon, better known as “Crich Stand" was erected in 1922 on a safer site farther from the cliff edge. It is a Memorial to the men of the Sherwood Foresters Regiment who fell in the First World War.

Clay Cross Company Documents

The Extracts which follow have been taken from a copy of the original conveyances dated 1849. It is hoped that they will be of interest to anyone visiting the site of the Clay Cross Mineral Railway Line and the Lime Quarry at Crich.
The Conveyances are in Book form, some twenty inches by fourteen inches. The title on the front board reads as follows:-
Explanatory Extracts & Plans of Property Belonging to Geo. Stephenson & Co. 1849

Extract from Lease of Limestone at Crich
18th August 1841 INDENTURE
Between Right Honable Henry Earl of Thanet in the first part, Samuel Travis of Crich Gentleman, Richard Arkwright Esquire, of Willesley Castle, Samuel Towndrow of Crich Yeoman, David Towndrow of Duffield Victuallar, Catherine Bason of Nottingham Widow, Thomas Topham of Ripley Candlewick Manufacturer, and Catherine his wife, Mary Ann Young, Emily Young, Betsey
Young of Nottingham Spinsters, Thomas Towndrow of Crich Farmer and John Cowper Topham of Belper Mercer and Draper of the second part, and George Stephenson, Robert Stephenson, George Carr Glyn, Joseph Sandars, Sir Joshua Walmsley and George Hudson of the third part.

Reciting that by virtue of divers Conveyances, of an act of Parliament, the inclosing of Commons within the Parishs of Crich and South Wingfield, premises vested in said Earl of Thanet or in those whom he derived Tithe for an Estate of Inheritance in fee simple.

Also reciting that by virtue of Indenture dated 30th April and 1st May 1711 of other undivided moiety of the same Limestone and premises become vested in several said persons parties to thereto of second part or in those whom they derived Tithe thereto.

It was Witnesed etc...
All the Strata of Limestone lying within and under these ten Inclosures of 77 acres 2 roods 20 perches then called Crich Cliff late part of the commons.

(The document gave) full power for George Stephenson and his Co-Partners to get Limestone in a workmanlike manner in any convenient part of the lands, but not in any manner to obstruct or prevent the due prosecution of other works that may be carried on the said land for the getting of Sparr, Lead, Coal or any other mineral.

The Lease to the said Co-Partners, Administrators and assigns from 25th March 1841 for 50 years.

Paying to the said parties, their Heirs and assigns according to their respective rights and interests during the said period, the following rent or royalty,
The Sum of one penny farthing per ton for all Limestone which should be gotten from out of the said Limestone Works and each ton to consist of 20 cwt, and each cwt. to consist of 112 lbs.

The said Rent to be paid by two half yearly payments, on the 29th September and 25th March, the first payment to be made on 29th September

A Proviso. That should it happen in any one year or more than one year or years that the rent should amount to less than £150 by reason of sufficient Limestone not being gotten the payment then in every case when the rent fails short as aforsaid them paying the full rent of £150.

But if in consequence of said deficiency having been made up and the average rent of any preceeding or subsequent year should exceed that sum the average rent should so far as it wanted for that purpose be taken in satisfaction.

Declaration that the quantity and weight of Limestone to be gotten should be ascertained as follows: Such part as should be carried away in Boats should be ascertained by a proper gauge of the boats, and the quantity and weight of such as should be carried away by Railway or other land carriages should be ascertained by one or more good and correct Weighing Machine or Machines to be set up and maintained by George Stephenson and Co-Partners on some convenient part of the Lands.

In case the quantity or weight could not be ascertained by the aforesaid means then George Stephenson and Co-Partners would at their own cost when required adopt other means as should be best calculated to answer the purposes and would not remove any Limestone from the premises without first causing the quantity or weights to be carefully ascertained and a correct entry be made accordingly.

Covenants. By George Stephenson and Co-Partners, for payment of rent and times of payment, and for payment of all Taxes. And would get Limestones in a workmanlike manner, and would deliver up the said Works at the end of the said term in a proper working condition, and would not endanger the working of Sparr, Lead ore and. minerals, and would make compensation to the occupiers of the Land,

Declaration that the said parties of the first and second part were seized of said Limestone and premises as tenants of Common in proportion as follows: Earl of Thanet one half, Samuel Travis one Quarter, Richard Arkwright one eighth. Samuel Towndrow, David Towndrow, Catherine Basin,
Catherine Topham, Mary Ann Young, Emily Young, Betsey Young, Thomas Towndrow, and John Cowper Topham to the remaining eighth, particularized in the
Barmasters Books on said rent.

The North Midland Railway Company to Messrs. Stephenson & Co.
Extracts from grant of Way at Crich 7th May 1841.

Indenture made between the North Midland Railway Company of 1st part and George Stephenson, Robert Stephenson, George Carr Glyn, Joseph Sandars, Sir Joshua Waimsley and George Hudson of the second part.

Reciting that by Indenture of even date, with and made between same persons as were parties to this deed, certain parcels of Land had been conveyed by said Company to said, parties of second part. And also that Land so conveyed formed part of a large piece of Land bought by said Company reserved for a Station upon the Railway communicating with the Cromford Canal at or near Amber Gate and said Company reserved for said Station a piece of Land forming the Frontage of the Land so reserved to said George Stephenson and others upon said Railway and also upon said Land as shown in the Plan to this deed. And also that said George Stephenson and others had erected Lime Kilns upon part of this Land, thereby conveyed, and had constructed a Railway from such Lime Kilns to Crich Cliff for bringing Limestone etc. to said Kilns and also to said Railway and Land, and they intend to send such Limestone and also Lime burnt in said Kilns along said North Midland Railway and also along said Canal, and they also propose to bring Coals from Clay Cross along said Railway to said Lime Kilns, and also along their own Railway to Crich, and it was necessary that they should have free access between the Land so Conveyed to them and said Railway and Canal, and it was accordingly agreed upon the treaty for said purchase that they should have free right of way across the Land so reserved subject to restrictions. There after contained and also that they should have the privilege of erecting a Bridge or Bridges over that part of the Land reserved by said Company which adjoined the Cromford Canal for purposes of their aforesaid Railway to Crich Cliff.

It was Witnessed that in pursuance of said Agreement and in Consideration of 10/0d. said North Midland Railway did grant –
Full Liberty and right of Way for said George Stephenson and others their Servants and Workmen, Wagons and Carriages over and across said piece of Land so reserved by them and intended for a Station as aforesaid for conveying Lime, Coal etc. from the pieces of Land so conveyed to said, George Stephenson and others, to said Railway and Canal, and vice versa and also power to erect and maintain a Bridge or Bridges over that part of said Land so reserved which adjoined to said Canal for the purposes of the Railway so made to Crich Cliff aforesaid with full power to convey such Articles as they thought proper across said Bridges.

Proviso. That the right of Way thereby granted should in no wise prevent said Company from making use of said Land so reserved in any manner they should think proper either by making a Cut or Basin from said Canal, Laying down sidings to said Railway, erecting or otherwise, it being the true meaning of said parties thereto that such light of Way should only be used as a means of communication between the Lard conveyed as aforesaid, and said Railway and Land at such places in such manner and subject to such regulations as said Company should think proper,

Proviso, That all Bridges to be erected by virtue of this Grant should be erected and maintained in repair under Superintendence, and to the satisfaction of said Engineer of said Railway Company and in case of any want of repair in such Bridge it should be lawful for said Company to repair same end to charge the expense thereof to said George Stephenson and others, and in case they should neglect to pay the amount then the said Company might recover same by distress.


Extract from Conveyance of a small piece of Land at Crich 31st July 1841.

Indenture made between Thomas Towndrow of Crich Farmer of the 1st part and George Stephenson, George Carr Glyn, Joseph Sanders, Sir Joshua Wamsley and George Hudson, Coalmasters of the second part, whereby in Thomas Towndrow in consideration of £21 5. Od. to him, paid by said George Stephenson and others.

All that piece of Land situate in the Parish of Crich containing 17 perches, being part of a Close of land there called Wilcoxes Croft otherwise Wheeldons Croft, then in the occupation of John Walker, which said piece of Land was then fenced off from the remainder of said Close and used by George Stephenson and others for the purpose of their Railway from Crich aforsaid to the Cromford Canal near Amber Gate,

Together with all Tithe of Corn Grain and Hay and other Tithes whatsoever payable in respect of same Land and all Ways etc.

Unto said George Stephenson and others (naming them) theirs Heirs and assigns for ever.

The usual Covenants by said Thomas Towndrow for the Tithe and also that all terms of years comprising said Land thereby conveyed should be In Trust for said George Stephenson and others.

map of mineral railways

diagram Crich quarry

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