From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present
Holme Bank Chert Mine
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Holme Bank Chert Mine is located in Bakewell in Derbyshire. The Chert was mined from the 1800's up to 1960. It provided about half of all the chert mined in Derbyshire which also was of a high quality. Chert is a type of quartz, large in size and similar to flint, but it is more brittle, breaking with a splintery fracture. It is common in limestones of the Paleozoic era, but also occurs in Mesozoic strata.

Holme Bank was originally quarried and was owned by the Gell family until they sold it to Arkwright in 1796. He sold it to the Duke of Devonshire in 1860. Joseph Smith and sons leased the quarry and mined Chert here. It was said in 1901 that Joseph Smith & Sons had worked the quarry for over Sixty years.

The Holme Hall estate close by was keen to mine Chert under the ownership of Francis Gisborne so an agreement was made in 1870 with the Duke to construct a shared entrance for the two mines. Production at Holme Bank mine continually increased during this period.

The mine went from strength to strength, steam boilers provided power for the drills but this was replaced with a diesel engine and an Ingersol Rand two stage compressor in 1926 due to the Great Strike which made coal scarce. Electric lighting was installed in 1931.

In 1932 the mine was leased to Robert Salt who then promptly sold it to a limited company, Smiths Runners Ltd, for £1 of which he partnered with Captain H.B.C Davie. This company had to diversify as chert was not in such high demand. As well as chert, they produced chicken grit, 'Davie' blocks and limestone aggregates. 'Davie' blocks are concrete blocks which contain large stones, devised by Captain Davie, these are used in the construction of council houses in the Peak District.

During the war it was used as an air raid shelter and in 1942 it was re-equipped with second hand plant from another mine. It was at this time that the chert beds were beginning to be worked out, the beds were getting thinner and poorer in quality.

The mine closed in 1960. At least 450,000 tons of material was mined, 150,000 tons of this was chert and 300,000 tons of material were used as packwalls to support the roof. This was not quite the end of the story for Smiths Runners continued to manufacture 'Davie' Blocks upto 1995.