Skip to main content

Derbyshire is the county in which I was born, and I am well aware of the wonders of nature with which it is blessed. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the Derbyshire Peak District was selected to be the site for the first National Park in Great Britain. It opened on 17th April, 1951, and incorporated small parts of the surrounding counties of South Yorkshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire. Gradually, over the years, more land access was agreed with the (in some cases, aristocratic) local landowners, and a  National Park Ranger Service, the Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation and the Edale Mountain Rescue Team were established, to make the Park safer for its millions of visitors.

Some of these visitors may be a little puzzled to see full-size replica millstones, marking the boundaries of the National Park, displayed on the side of each road giving access to the Peak. When you penetrate deep into the gritstone hills of the Park, you will be amazed to see hundreds of partially finished millstones littering the floors of abandoned quarries. Along with sheep farming, the extraction of limestone (used primarily in road-making and the steel industry) and some lead mining, the production of millstones and pulpstones had been a major economic activity of the Peak District since the 14th century. As you can imagine this was a skilled activity, and a workman could only produce about 16 pairs of finished stones per year. They were moved down from the quarries, according to Daniel Dafoe, who travelled and wrote about the area, by fitting an axle between the stones and trundling them across the moors! The boom time for this activity had come with the rise of the Industrial Revolution (and the overall increase in production, which gave rise to a boom in the population) and the intermittent state of war and/or political unrest between Britain and France during a large part of the 18th century. The reasons why this unusual industry declined so rapidly, leading to the workers literally abandoning their quarries, was two-fold. Firstly, access to the less-coarse grained French millstones (French production was semi-industrialized, and gave a better quality product) was restored with peace between the two nations, and the fact that Peak District stones ground a coarser-textured flour with a somewhat greyish hue. Since the fashion was now for more expensive, fine white, flour, this contributed to the demise of the Peak District millstone. The final quarries ceased production in the early part of the 20th century.

If you wish to seek them out, the abandoned millstones may be found in many small quarries near the communities of Baslow and Hathersage in Derbyshire.

Originally posted to shortfinals on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 05:30 PM PST.

Also republished by History for Kossacks, SciTech, and Derbyshire and The Peak District.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site