Monument record MDR8709 - Submerged gunpowder works, Fernilee Reservoir, Hartington Upper Quarter

Type and Period (1)

  • (Former Type) (Georgian to Mid 20th Century - 1800 AD to 1936 AD?)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

Gunpowder was made with the aid of water power at a mill in the Goyt Valley at Fernilee, the remains now lie submerged by the reservoir (built in 1937). It is believed to have been in existence as early as the 16th century, and is thought to have supplied powder for the defeat of the Spanish Armada. In 1857 the mill was owned by Thomas Williamson; the last owner before its closure after World War I was the Chilworth Gunpowder Company. The buildings were of massive structure and strength and defied the efforts to demolish them by blasting. (1) This industrial complex was built at the beginning of the 19th century, as indicated by a surviving 1801 licence granting permission to produce gunpowder. Thus the tradition that gunpowder was made here since the 16th century (1) is probably untrue. The factory was still working in 1919, but closed soon afterwards (1). The works now lie underneath the Fernilee reservoir. Originally an extensive network of tramways linked the buildings to others over a wide area. This reflects the complex sequence of stages necessary in the manufacture of gunpowder. Little is known of the early layout of the works. The first edition Ordnance Survey of c.1840 marks it on the west side of the river, where the main buildings were sited in 1919. The 1880 map shows that most of the buildings of the main buildings west of the river and those to the north were already in place by that date as were the tramways and leats or canals. The buildings to the south were added by the time of production of the 1899 map. (2)

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Harris, H. 1971. Industrial Archaeology of the Peak District. pp 100-101.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Barnatt, J (PDNPA). 1994. The Goyt Valley, Hartington Upper Quarter, Derbyshire, archaeological survey, 1994. 148. Feature 59, pp 22-23, illus.



Grid reference Centred SK 0135 7715 (124m by 208m) (Approximate)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR3759

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External Links (0)

Record last edited

Mar 11 2015 2:18PM

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