From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Bole Hill Quarry

53° 18′39.64″ N 1° 37′44.04″ W

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Bole Hill Quarry is located between Hathersage and Nether Padley in Derbyshire.

The quarry is mostly known for the supply of stone for the Derwent dam, but its history goes further back. Millstones, grindstones and crushing stones were made here for hundreds of years. Millstones were used for grinding flour but later abandoned as the grit-stone was made the flour gray. From then on the stones were used for industrial grinding. The industry was abandoned due to imported stone being finer and cheaper. The quarry was almost abandoned overnight and the pulp-stones were left in-situ. They were due to be exported to Scandinavia for use in crushing wood into pulp for the paper industry

The Derwent Valley Water Act of 1901 was passed to construct the Howden and Derwent Dams. The initial plans were to quarry stone in Ladybower Clough, but had to be abandoned when objectors called a public meeting in Sheffield Town Hall that forced the Derwent Valley Water Board, to find a more acceptable source.

In November 1901 the Board purchased 52 acres of land at Bole Hill from Mr Shuttleworth of Hathersage, and compensation of £20 was paid to Mr Cooper, a tenant of part of the land. The beds of stone were near to the surface, had an average depth of 65 feet. The quarry face was 1,200 yards long and it was estimated that it contained some 2.4 million tons of top grade building stone. The silica and feldspar composition of the millstone grit at Bole Hill had the advantage of hardening after weathering. So much so that the masons found some of the stone that had already been exposed to the atmosphere was exceedingly hard and more laborious to work than the freshly quarried stone.

A standard gauge railway was built to the quarry face, which was then linked by an incline to the Midland Railway Hope Valley Line, almost 400 feet lower down the valley. Water was provided from the Burbage Brook in Padley Gorge by means of a ram-pump that lifted some 16,000 gallons per day a height of 370 feet into storage tanks holding 35,000 gallons.

The quarry produced over 1.25 million tons of stone in seven and a half years. Sheds to house the workshops for dressing the large blocks, weighing between 20 to 30 tons each, were sited adjacent to the quarry face. Rubble and filler stone was loaded by two steam-powered cranes straight into specially built trucks, these were then lowered down the 300 foot incline, with its 1 in 3 gradient, the operation was controlled by a brakeman on the drum of the winding wheel. The stone housings of the wheelhouse can be found at the top of the now overgrown incline. As each loaded truck was lowered it raised an empty truck up from the bottom.

Major work at the quarry finished in 1910, but Bole Hill was finally closed in September 1914, when all the plant and materials had been removed. The quarry was gifted to the National Trust in 1947.