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Monument record MDR3436 - Washgreen Cupola, Wirksworth

Type and Period (7)

  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Stuart to Georgian - 1700 AD? to 1825 AD?)
  • (Georgian to First World War - 1830 AD? to 1918 AD?)
  • (First World War to 21st Century - 1918 AD? to 2050 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Elizabethan to Georgian - 1589 AD? to 1749 AD?)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

Mill building with characteristic arches for ventilation and a large wheel pit at the rear. Formally a lead smelting mill, prior to 1750. (1-3) The first reference to this site as a cupola may be in 1749 when it is called Mr Hurt's furnace in documents in the Bagshaw Collection at Sheffield Archives (this is the normal appellation in these documents to a cupola). Other documents have suggested that before Hurt built the Meerbrook site, he came from Wirksworth. Washgreen could well have been a smelting mill before this, as water power was available and would almost certainly have been installed at the same time as the building. In 1758 the mill came into the possession of the Barkers, being worked by them until c. 1774. In 1780 the cupola was owned by John Rolls and occupied by Adam Simpson. In and after 1785 only half a cupola is assessed, at half the old rate of assessment. In 1795 a Mrs Leah was assessed as owning the 'half Cupiloe'. Farey refers to the cupola in 1811 as 'east of the town - Charles Hurt'. In 1815 Joseph Wilshaw was in possession at 2s; in 1820 at 5s and in 1825 his executors at 5s. In 1830 there was no mention of it. After its closure the mill, known as Willowbath Mill, was used as a tape bleaching and dyeing works owned by the Wheatcrofts and the Stevensons. It has been a farm since the First World War. Today slag and slaggy bricks can be found on paths and walls around the farm, and the buildings have the remains of the typical large arches. There is a very large wheel pit at the rear. (4) Late 19th century maps show a string of three mill ponds immediately to the south-east of the bleach mill buildings. (5) At least two ponds are shown on the tithe map of 1849 (6) but are not shown on Sanderson's map of 1835. (7) The first water-powered smelting mill in the Wirksworth district was built by Henry Wigley in c. 1589, the brenners of Wirksworth having been slow to abandon their boles on Barrel Edge. The mill was constructed on waste on the hillside near Wash Green. In 1598 his son Thomas leased the mill from John Carpenter, lessee of the wastes of the Manor of Wirksworth. After the deaths of Thomas Wigley and his brother Richard in 1635, the tenancy of the smelting mill was held by George Hopkinson and later by one of his sons. In the 1690s the mill came into the hands of the Gells of Hopton. It is possible that the site may have been developed as a cupola about 1749 by Francis Hurt. At SK 29505386 there is a building which was probably originally the slag-mill, contemporary with the cupola and now in domestic use. Against the east wall is a grassed area recalled as the site of a wheel-pit, open in the 1960s. A blocked arch in the wall would correspond with a wheel shaft. The pond area upslope to the east is now occupied by a concrete reservoir. No head-race is visible. Small quantities of slag can be found in the bank along the eastern side of St Helens Lane. (8)

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Index: NDAT. 2763. 2763.
  • <2> Index: Council for British Archaeology (CBA). CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Card. Washgreen Cupola.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Willies, L. 1972. 'The development of lead smelting in Derbyshire', Peakland Archaeological Society. No. 27, pp 1-9. p 5.
  • <4> Article in serial: Willies, L. 1969. 'Cupola lead smelting sites in Derbyshire, 1737-1900', Bulletin of the Peak District Mines Historical Society. Vol. 4, part 1. p 112.
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1896-1900. OS County Series, 2nd edition (1st revision), scale 1:2500 (c. 25" to one mile). Sheet XXXIV.14, 1899.
  • <6> Map: 1849. Wirksworth Tithe Map. Traced copy by F Harrison, in 4 sheets.
  • <7> Map: Sanderson, G. 1835. Twenty Miles round Mansfield.
  • <8> Article in serial: Crossley, D & Kiernan, D. 1992. 'The lead-smelting mills of Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 112, pp 6-47. pp 43-44.



Grid reference Centred SK 295 538 (136m by 112m) (Approximate)

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Record last edited

Dec 14 2017 4:42PM

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