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Monument record MDR4167 - Barbrook lead smelting mill (site of), Curbar

Type and Period (4)

  • (Jacobean to Georgian - 1618 AD to 1773 AD)
  • (Jacobean to Victorian - 1618 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Georgian to Victorian - 1820 AD? to 1900 AD)
  • (Jacobean to Victorian - 1618 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

Barbrook smelting mill, at SK 276739, was certainly in use in the 18th century, and most probably before, with the site being shown on Burdett's 1762-7 map. It was closed by Barkers in 1770 and the site was later a corn mill, a sketch of which exists in Sheffield City Library. Today only a dam and some waterworks remain. (1) The site is marked on Burdett's 1762-7 map by a water wheel symbol and annotated 'Smelting Mill'. (4) Greenwood's map of 1825 shows it as 'Corn Mill'. (5) Sanderson's map of 1835 as 'Barbrook Mill', with a long narrow millpond to the north of the Barbrook stream. (6) The 1st ed. 25" Ordnance Survey map of c. 1880 shows the millpond, with a building at its south-western end, annotated 'Barbrook Mill (Flour)'. (7) Nothing is marked on the 2nd edition of c. 1900 apart from symbols indicating marshy or boggy ground on the site of the mill pond. (8) Barbrook smelting mill was built by Robert Mower of Millthorpe in 1618, on ground owned by the Manners of Haddon and leased to him for 21 years, with permission to build 'other houses … for the smelting of slagges' and for ore, coals etc, with a little cottage for a smelter. In 1637 his son leased 'Barbrook Smiltinge Milne' for a further 21 years. In 1679 John Broomhead of Bubnell was operating Barbrook mill, smelting for others as well as himself, although the mill remained in the ownership of the Manners family. In the 18th century it was leased by the Barkers, along with Stoke smelting mill, and was worked until closure between 1769 and 1773. The pond, north of the Bar Brook, still contains water, and the prominent dam is in good condition, stone-faced on the north side of the pond. The later flour mill is marked by earthworks west of the dam. A deep depression south-west of the dam and west of the surviving bridge to the mill, suggests a wheelpit; a gully joining the brook 100m west of the mill indicates a tail-race, which must have been culverted immediately west of the wheelpit. Ore-hearth slag can be found between the mill earthworks and the stream. (9) Barbrook Mill. Probably on the site of an old lead mill on the Bar Brook, a tributary of the River Derwent, are the ruins of a corn mill. A drawing made in 1869 shows a three-storeyed building, complete with an undershot wheel and the cowls of a kiln. The miller in 1895 is listed as Thomas Marples. (10) On the north side of Bar Brook, downstream from Curbar Crossroads, are the particularly interesting remains of two mills once used to smelt lead ore and lead slags. The top mill lies only a short distance below the crossroads and today there is evidence for smelting here and for structures relating to the site after it was converted to a flour mill. This smelting mill, together with a ‘little cottage’ for the person doing the smelting, is documented as having been built by Robert Mower in 1618. It was used until closed by the Barker family, the well-known lead smelting entrepreneurs, sometime between 1769 and 1773. The site was already reused as a corn mill by 1824, and this was still active in the late 1870s, when the first 25 inch to a mile map was surveyed. This shows a T-shaped building, probably sited between the waterwheel and the stream, both placed below a mill pond fed by a head race from Bar Brook. A drawing of 1869 is said [by Authority 10] to show that the building was of three-storeys, with an undershot waterwheel, and with the cowls of a kiln also visible. However, from examination of the site on the ground it seems unlikely that the mill had an undershot wheel and therefore it is suspected that this drawing may be of a mill elsewhere. Gifford [10] also notes that in 1895 the miller was listed as Thomas Marples. By the time survey for the second Ordnance Survey edition was undertaken in 1897, the site was abandoned and no buildings were shown, indicating that by then they had been razed to the ground. In the early 20th century the site was reused as a water supply pumping station by the Chesterfield Rural District Council. Their small building at the mill site was demolished by the Home Guard in 1940-41. Today at the heart of this site there is a flat working area between the site of the mill buildings and the mill pond. This is approached from the south by the grassed-over access road which crosses a finely-made 19th century bridge over Bar Brook from the 1803 turnpike, all made when the site was a corn mill. The site is also approached by a narrower and earlier track to the smelt mill coming down the slope from the north-east. A third track leads westwards to the site of the slag mill further downstream [HER 15816]. The only obvious signs of a building on site today relate to the 20th century water-supply building. Outside the building a short outlet from the millpond leads to a square pit where water was extracted. The 19th century corn mill lay to the west side of the working area, where there is now a large amorphous and very deep hollow. At the centre of this hollow was the waterwheel and, given its depth and the lie of the land, this is likely to have been overshot. No trace of the mill building exists, which suggests either that a stone structure was thoroughly demolished in the 1890s and the stone used elsewhere, or that it was a timber building which has rotted away or was burned down (which may indicate it was of some antiquity and started life as the ore-hearth building). The original smelting building(s) must have been here and/or somewhere close by. On the downslope side of the wheel pit hollow there is a flat-topped working platform raised above the stream valley bottom (which is prone to flooding). In erosion patches at its steep side next to the stream there are pieces of smelting slag to be found. The corn mill tailrace must have been in a culvert under this platform. The most obvious feature on the site today is the mill pond, which still holds water. This long oval pond, now part-silted, is retained on its downslope side. (11) To the north-east of the scheduled slag mill at Barbrook [SMR 15816] are the remains of an ore hearth, comprising a mill dam which still retains water, and leats. The ore hearth was replaced by a corn mill in the 19th century, and a water pumping station for the Bar Brook reservoir was constructed on the site in the early 20th century. The site was surveyed in 2010/2011 and structural remains were identified consisting of a ruined two-room building which was probably associated with the 20th century pumping engine. No remains of the ore hearth or later corn mill buildings survive, although the wheel pit is visible and the buildings are likely to have been in this vicinity. There are also associated access tracks to the mill and a bridge over the Bar Brook. The scheduled monument outline covers only the slag mill to the south-east, although the description appears to have conflated the two lead mills. (12)

Sources/Archives (12)

  • <1> Article in serial: Willies, L. 1971. 'Lead smelting sites at Beeley Moor, Barbrook and Stonedge: Report of a field meeting on 13 November 1971', Bulletin of the Peak District Mines Historical Society. Volume 5, pp 40-42.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Committee on British Archaeology. 1975. Panel on Industrial Monuments.
  • <3> Index: NDAT. NDAT 0232. 0232.
  • <4> Map: Burdett, RP. Survey of Derbyshire, Began in the Year 1762 and finished in the Year 1767.
  • <5> Map: Greenwood, C & I. Map of the County of Derby from an Actual Survey made in the Years 1824 & 1825. 1" = 1 mile.
  • <6> Map: Sanderson, G. 1835. Twenty Miles round Mansfield.
  • <7> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1882. OS County Series, 1st edition, scale 1:2500 (c. 25" to one mile).
  • <8> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1896-1900. OS County Series, 2nd edition (1st revision), scale 1:2500 (c. 25" to one mile).
  • <9> Article in serial: Crossley, D & Kiernan, D. 1992. 'The lead-smelting mills of Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 112, pp 6-47. p 14.
  • <10> Bibliographic reference: Gifford, A. 1999. Derbyshire Watermills: Corn Mills.. p 35, A19.
  • <11> Article in serial: Barnatt, J, Heathcote, C & Shaw, P. 2008. 'Peak District Mines - Observations and Discoveries - Part 24. 2: Barbrook Smelt Mills, Curbar, Derbyshire', Peak District Mines Historical Society Newsletter. No. 125.
  • <12> Unpublished document: May, R & Badcock, A (ArcHeritage). 2011. Eastern Moors Estate, Derbyshire. Historic Landscape Survey Report. Two Volumes - Volume 1: Text & Figures; Volume 2: Database. Vol. 1, p 30; Vol. 2, Features 6260-6270.



Grid reference Centred SK 2756 7389 (155m by 73m) (Centre)

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Record last edited

Jun 10 2015 12:20PM

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