Location:- Magpie Lead Mine, Sheldon, Derbyshire. A part of our industrial past industrial life, high on the top of the White Peak.
(C) David Oakes 2018
(C) David Oakes 2018
Here in the UK we are blessed with a rich Heritage. The country side and towns are littered with buildings from long before Stonehenge to modern times…every generation creating its own piece of history and leaving behind a footprint for those that follow.
I have to admit to having a preference for the architecture that has been left by the early industrialist.
Today Cornwall is perhaps best known as a holiday destination (and a great one at that) but in days gone by it was the centre of a mining industry. Below the surface the land was rich in minerals, Lead, Arsenic, Coal, Fluorspar and China Clay… perhaps those familiar with the Poldark Saga will immediately think of Tin.
Levant Mine above was just one of many Tin Mines. Dangerous places to work, rock falls, explosions, gasses and working in the dark with just a candle fixed to a felt ‘Hard Hat’. The search for the elusive veins of mineral even so some mines extended their workings in long tunnels under the sea.
Levant Mine is now a Heritage Museum with a Beam Engine…well worth a visit but maybe like me you may just like to sit and take in the Heritage that is in the air, even today long after these mines were abandoned.
My suggestion for this weeks DP Photo Challenge. It is fun to see what other have suggested, click on this link :- https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/heritage/
(C) David Oakes 2017
High on the Derbyshire Moors well hidden behind the main street of Sheldon Village is the village church. As churches go it is not that old being built in 1865. There once was a small chapel in the village but I am unclear were that was located but in anycase it was demolished when the new Church, dedicated to Saint Michael and All Angels, was constructed.
Surrounded by trees to protect it from the high winds that often blow across the moors, the exterior is squat and plain with one rounded end but notably a very distinctive high roof…once you step inside you can admire the wood beams that are needed to support this high roof.
Note the suspended lights. They were originally Oil Lamps but when electricity arrived were converted. Simple and plain St Michaels is a spacious and peaceful place of worship for the villagers.
But take time to explore the Graveyard ( I guess there are more folk buried here than live in the village today). Read the stones and you soon can tell for yourself some of the history of the area.
Sheldon I have called a village but in reality it is one main street with houses each side and the odd farm. At one time an Inn and a School were part of the street but these are long gone, though the old school is now the village hall.
Sheldon like many Derbyshire villages in this area known as the White Peak, hides the fact that this was once a very industrious and busy region. Sheldon was one of the main Lead Mining Centres. Walk in any direction and you will soon stumble upon an old Lead ‘Rake’ or traces of a deeper mine shaft. The gravestones provide testament to the dangers of being a one of the lead miners.
Lead Mining dates back to Roman times but at its height in the 17/18oo’s ….but Sheldons Magpie Mine regularly modernised and managed to struggle on till 1958 when it finally closed….
Magpie Mine is now the centre of the Peak District Mines Historical Society a very fitting use for these old buildings. There is the Agent’s House, Powder House, the Smoke Stack and Pump House where once stood a ‘Cornish Beam Engine’, Winding House and even a Horse powered winch.
Like Sheldon itself the mine and Saint Michaels will tell its own story for those who spend a little time to explore…..it will be time well spent.
(C) David Oakes 2016
Described by many as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, this cluster of old mill buildings stand testament to a man of vision who changed the face of industrial; manufacturing. The Mills at Cromford are just one group of Mills that follow the River Derwent down from Cromford to Derby and now designated a World Heritage Site.
Richard Arkwright was the son of a Barber and Wig Maker, a profession that he followed for several years during which he travelled and studied the industrial England of the 1700’s. It was during this time that he conceived the concept of mechanised mass manufacture, enabling a continuous process from Raw material to finished product to take place in one place. Born in Preston Lancashire in 1732, he lived for barely 60 years, he died in 1792. But during that time he achieved a great deal and despite financial struggles to achieve his vision he built the mills , invented automated water powered mass manufacturing machines, built a village for his workers, added a family Church, invested in Canals and Railways, accumulated great wealth, and was knighted Sir Richard Arkwright……Oh!..and he also built himself a Castle overlooking his empire.
( (c)Part of the Cromford Mills Arkwright Experience Exhibition)
Even today Cromford would seem an unlikely spot for such major industrial development, so I guess in the 1700’s it would have seemed even more unlikely. But Arkwright chose wisely. The area of South Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire had already established reputation for skills in weaving. But Arkwright also needed the guaranteed supply of water to power his manufacturing vision. Lead Mining was a key industry around Cromford and Arkwright secured the water rights of a Mining Sough (a water channel used to drain the mines) that together with the Bonsall Brook that flows into the Derwent at Cromford were engineered into storage lagoon and from there directed to various waterwheels that supplied the power for the machines that Arkwright invented to convert cotton and spin it into yarn.
Today the buildings that surround the Factory Yard are skeletons of what they once were, a place for ghosts from the past to linger for it must have been a tough working environment…..but they now host several Exhibitions describing various stages in the Mills working life, an Audio Visual Show, Gift Shops and Art Gallery , plus working Studio Offices for a number of local businesses….and also the very important Cafe.
Across the entire site there are plenty of interpretation and information boards so you can ‘Do it Yourself’ or join one of the well informed Guides on a Tour.
Despite all that information it is hard to visualise the hurly burly times when Cromford Mills were at there productive busiest making industrial history. His achievements also spurred other industrial entrepreneurs into following suite, resulting in a cluster of Mills and Weavers along the Derwent Valley. Not bad for a Lancashire Lad of humble origin.
Well worth a visit.
(C) David Oakes 2016
I was idly listening to a programme on the Radio (now there is a novelty these days). There was a discussion about traditions…but listening to the debate I began to think that a great many of these so called traditions were more the habit of necessity.
I then recalled a rather emotive sculpture on the sea wall at Fleetwood. Fleetwood was once one of our major Fishing Ports. Trawlers would head off to deep North Atlantic waters in all weather all year round.
It was of course in the days before Radio Telephones and Satellite Communication, what radio contact there was could not be relied upon and range limited. As boats were at sea for some time, often the only news was from one returning boat relaying news of those they had seen.
As the return date was not to a timetable and as weather conditions in the northern water were often severe, it proved an anxious wait for the families at home. As each high tide approached there would often be a line of ‘Fisher Wives” watching anxiously till they recognised a familiar vessel returning to port.
This Bronze Sculpture was erected as a tribute to those left at home. It is the work of artist Anita Lafford is near life size and stands in the very spot that many families gathered to wave and shout “Welcome Home”
It is also perhaps quite fitting that much of the money for this Sculpture was provided by the very appropriately named local Sweet Company
(C) David Oakes 2016
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