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Site record MDR9438 - Middleton Bottom Wheel Pit, Middleton Incline, East of Middlepeak Cottage, Middleton

Type and Period (2)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

Middleton Bottom Wheel Pit, Middleton Incline, East of Middlepeak Cottage, Middleton, probably of late 19th century date. A conservation statement was produced by Mark Stewart Architects in 2002 for the former wheel pit to provide the basis for developing a management strategy to establish the long-term conservation of the monument and its setting. This required a full non-destructive visual examination of all parts of the structure, and a measured survey of the monument in its current condition. The Middleton incline was closed on 12th August 1963. The rails were lifted in November 1964 and the wire ropes were cut off outside the engine house and left in position around the pulleys. During the life of the railway, as the industries it served expanded and contracted, various modifications and alterations were made at Middleton incline. The sunken brick-lined wheel pit at the foot of the incline housed the ropes and tensioning mechanisms for the steel cable onto which the wagons were linked as they travelled up the incline. The cables were powered by a stationary winding engine at Middleton Top. It is likely that the pit itself was covered with boarding, and fixings for timber boarding projecting from the principal beam on the north side have been identified. Also, the timbers in the pit do not appear to have been weathered in a way that would suggest that they had been uncovered for over one hundred years. The Middleton wheel pit is one of only two along the former High Peak Railway to survive since the closure and dismantling of the railway in 1967. It is a scheduled monument on account of its rarity and also because of the evidence it can provide as to how the railway operated. (1) Middleton Bottom wheel pit. A large rectangular pit, approximately 8m x 4m and 1.6m deep. The pit is brick-lined and covered by a series of criss-crossing wooden beams. The beams are square-cut and approximately 0.3m wide. The main wheel remains in the pit although it has fallen from its mounting. The wheel is approximately 3m in diameter. A second smaller wheel, (with rope still attached), is still in situ. The depressions of the rope guides can be seen leading toward the base of the incline, they are covered in dense vegetation. (2) As part of a programme of refurbishment, trenches were hand-excavated around the eastern and western ends of Middleton Bottom wheel pit in October 2007. The build of the wheel pit structure appeared to be late 19th century in date, and the pit had been cut into the embankment deposits relating to construction of the Cromford and High Peak Railway. The build of the pit and the associated material culture suggests, therefore, that it was not contemporary with the construction of the railway in the 1820s and that it represents either a later insertion or the replacement of an original pit. (3) Further work carried out in March 2008 exposed below-ground brick runnels that had conveyed the cables between the pit and the incline. A wooden sleeper structure was also uncovered. None of the features related to the original 1820s build of the railway, all being later 19th century. (4) Contains a pulley approximately 2m diameter and some cable. Also there is a wooden beam connected by cables to two gear wheels. See also SMR28325. (5)

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Unpublished document: Holt, J (Mark Stewart Architects). 2002. Former Wheel Pit, Middleton Incline, Wirksworth, Derbyshire: Conservation Statement.
  • <2> Archive: Jessop, O. 2003. Cromford & High Peak Railway and Peak Forest Tramway Survey. ARCUS 738b. Feature number: 96.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Baker, S (ARCUS). 2008. Middleton Bottom Wheel Pit: Archaeological Trial Trenching.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Baker, S (ARCUS). 2008. Archaeological Evaluation (Stage 2) of Land at Middleton Bottom Wheel Pit, Middleton-by-Wirksworth, Derbyshire.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D (ed.). 1997. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology. A Gazetteer of Sites. Part IV. Derbyshire Dales.



Grid reference SK 2830 5516 (point) (Approximate)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

  • EDR2578
  • EDR1790
  • EDR2560

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External Links (0)

Record last edited

Mar 15 2020 8:47AM

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