Ruins of a former dye and bleach works including a 5m deep wheel pit. The remains are situated in a densely-wooded valley - Lumsdale - where the small stream was harnassed for a variety of industries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A considerable amount of consolidation work has been carried out under the aegis of the Arkwright Society. Access to Lumsdale is via footpaths from Asker Lane off Chesterfield Road. (1)
The earliest purpose-built cotton mill within the Lumsdale Valley was a three storey building now known as Gartons Mill, located at the southern end of the monument. The mill was built in the 1780s by Watts, Lowe and Co., but their success was short lived and the firm was bankrupt by 1813. Soon after the company's interests in the valley passed to John Garton, a bleacher. Garton developed other interests in mineral grinding and, as mentioned above, used several sites in the valley for this purpose. The cotton mill is now known as the Lower Bleach Works with the Upper Bleach Works on the north side of the road; the two are linked by a tramway across the road which survives as visible stone runnels. A number of the original stone bleaching vats survive at the Lower Bleach Works, rendering it one of the last surviving examples in the country. The building survives as a ruined structure with evidence of several rooms or compartments with characteristics of different stages of the bleaching process. The Upper Bleach Works was thought originally to have been a corn mill with a very primitive wooden wheel and metal lattice work. The wheel is understood to have been early 18th century in date, although this no longer survives. Water reached this site via a wooden launder directly from the base of the waterfall. Structural and archaeological evidence for this is likely to survive in places along the valley. (2)
The Upper Bleach Works probably dealt with the final stages of the bleaching process including drying, finishing, packing and dispatch. Here there was a drying room, and the archaeological potential for evidence of the metal floor for drying candlewick cotton is high. Heat was produced by a boiler, the position of which is still evident. Stone runnels are visible either side of the current road, it is possible that these continue below the modern road surface linking the Upper and Lower Bleach Works. These served as a railway which carried wagons, pulled up from the Lower Bleach Works by a pulley system and let down again by gravity. The metal parts and boilers were removed from the site to help with the World War II effort. (2)
The Lower Bleach Works were built as a cotton mill in the 1780's. The mill stands to two storeys but is a roofless ruin. It is typical of a smaller mill, originally three storeys and eight bays with little architectural embellishment. It is built of roughly coursed rubble gritstone with wedge lintels and keystones to the now blocked windows. The multiple rows of closely spaced windows provided an even light. Early 20th century photos show it with a graduated stone-slate roof. A smithy which has been restored by the Arkwright Society for future use as an interpretative centre, survives within the range of structures and retains its hearth [the smithy is also a Listed Building]. A boiler once stood close to the smithy and from here a flue ran underground to a tall chimney c165m north-east of the bleach works. The chimney served a number of flues which are known to run underground from a variety of industries within the valley. This system is very likely to survive beneath the ground surface and has the archaeological potential to significantly enhance our understanding of how the valley functioned at the height of its industrial past. (2)
The Lower Bleach Works were established as a result of the cotton spinning industry and required a huge amount of water to power the wheel and for the bleaching process. The water wheel was enclosed within the building and powered from the waterfall via the Upper Bleach Works. Water from the other side of the road to the Lower Bleach Works supplied two stone-lined reservoirs, used as part of the bleaching processes. It is likely that the archaeological evidence for the water supply system to the reservoirs survives beneath the ground. Within the Lower Bleach Works building is a pair of large stone bleaching/souring tanks with space beneath the floor that acted as a reservoir or dump for chemicals. (2)
Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D (ed.). 1997. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology. A Gazetteer of Sites. Part IV. Derbyshire Dales. p. 42.
Scheduling record: English Heritage. 2014. Scheduling notification: Lumsdale Mills and associated water mamangement features. List entry no. 1417570.
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