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Monument record MDR4845 - Meerbrook Lead Works (site of) and adjacent quarries, Wirksworth and Alderwasley

Type and Period (5)

Protected Status/Designation

  • World Heritage Site Buffer Zone

Full Description

SK 325 550. Meerbrook Cupola consists of a gritstone flue complex, much of it underground. (1) Meerbrook Lead Works (SK 326 550), Alderwasley. Built by Francis Hurt in or just prior to 1764, together with an ironworks etc. They are shown as a cupola on Burdett's map of 1762-1767. They still belonged to Hurt's in 1811 and in 1831. In 1846 they were owned by William and Charles Milnes who probably transferred operations to there from Stone Edge. They appear to have specialised in slag smelting, receiving 1000 tons from Middleton Dale in 1855, in addition to their own supplies from Stone Edge and elsewhere. In 1870 the works were owned by E Cockburn, in 1871 they were taken over by Wass & Co. and closed in 1874. Today much of the works is obscured by pipe-laying and dumping operations by the Gas Board, but some of the very fine large flues remain accessible and require surveying before destruction is complete. (2) Meerbrook Cupola - flues for condensing lead fume, with spray chambers etc. Best and largest in Derbyshire, with easy access. They can be followed underground with ease. The site has been used as a dump for earth by Ambergate Gas Works. Although already damaged, considerable sections remain [in 1971], although any further tipping needs to be closely controlled. (3) Extensive systems of flues from smelter on south side of Meerbrook. Present system replaces earlier system, remains of which are still visible. Slightly damaged by Birchwood Quarry. Florence Nightingale lived downwind of the chimney and there is some evidence that she suffered from lead flume. Flues on this side safe, but works on the south buried during the course of building a caravan site by M. Grundy in 1984. Surveyed by the Peak District Mines Historical Society first. (4, 5) Sanderson's map of 1835 marks 'Smelting Mills' on the south side of Meerbrook. (6)

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: CBA Panel on Indust Mons 1975 9..
  • <2> 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.
  • <3> Unpublished document: County Treasure Recording Form. 11.1, with photos.
  • <4> Personal Observation: SMR Officer 14-1-1985 pers comm.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Willies L Unpub Thesis.
  • <6> Index: Council for British Archaeology (CBA). CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Card. Meerbrook Cupola.



Grid reference Centred SK 3261 5501 (391m by 244m) (Approximate)

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Record last edited

Dec 21 2018 9:27AM

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