The General Wharf at Cromford was the original wharf completed with the canal in 1794. The Cromford Canal Act of 1789 provided for two alternative wharf locations. One was on the meadows near to the present railway bridge. The second was the option chosen and built, opposite the Cromford Mill and taking part of the garden of Rock House, the then home of Sir Richard Arkwright. Initially the wharf was built as a single canal channel and gothic warehouse. The wharf area was extended in 1824 by the building of a parallel second canal arm from the present winding hole. The Wharf was the headquarters of the canal carriers Wheatcrofts until they moved to Bullbridge. The goods handled included coal, timber, limestone, agricultural and domestic items. [Read more…] about Cromford Canal – Cromford Wharf
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Catch your breath at this vantage point. From here we can appreciate the natural beauty and grandeur of the landscape that the Derwent has carved out.
In its Victorian heyday, Matlock Bath and its neighbouring countryside were often referred to as ‘little Switzerland’. From here we can get a sense of why, not least because of the climb up! The scene has inspired many writers and artists.
In Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel Frankenstein (written in 1818, the same year the toll road opened) the narrator describes a visit:
We … proceeded to Matlock… The country in the neighbourhood of this village resembles Switzerland; but everything is on a lower scale
A century earlier, Daniel Defoe had recorded
the prodigious height of this tor…was to me more a wonder than any of the rest in the Peak”.
The trackways of prehistory and the Industrial Revolution are both behind us now as we descend toward Minninglow Grange, the farm directly ahead. But this rough track is no less a significant marker in the history of White Peak crossings.
The word ‘grange’ usually means that a farm was worked in the Middle Ages by monks from a great monastery, often many miles distant. This lane is thought to mark the boundary of the monastic farmland, as well as being an important route carrying away its produce.
Superstition was rife in Peak District villages during the late 17th century. Here in Wincle, when local man Robert Hall died and the cause of death wasn’t obvious, people were quick to blame Mary Bagueley of Wildboarclough, three miles from Robert’s cottage. Mary seemed to have an unusual affinity for the frogs that lived in the stream outside her cottage in Wildboarclough because she spent a good deal of time in their company; and there was rumoured to be bad blood between her and Robert, though she was known to have visited him three or four times in the days and weeks before he died.
Mary was arrested by the parish constables and taken before the Assize at Chester. The case hinged on the little elm-wood box of dried herbs that Mary admitted to having left in Robert’s cottage. The herbalist summoned as witness couldn’t identify them, and Mary knew them by unfamiliar names. It was enough to prove that Mary was a witch. The verdict was inevitable. On the sixteenth of October 1675, Mary was convicted of killing Robert Hall of Wincle by magic, and on the following morning she was hanged. [Read more…] about The Witch of Wildboarclough
Francis Wright (1806 – 1873) came from a Nottinghamshire banking family who had married into the local gentry. He was a successful businessman and, entrepreneur and benefactor. He believed that ‘busy hands keep the devil away’, and tried to impose his moral principals on the Town. He put a stop to the Town’s annual fairs, and tried to stop the Shrovetide Football game.
After his death, this memorial was erected ‘by public subscription to the memory of Francis Wright as a record of his valuable services to this town and the neighbourhood’ However, his attempts to stop the Shrovetide Football game made him unpopular amongst some local citizens.
This detail is from a 1610 map of Derbyshire in 1610 by cartographer John Speed.
Buxton in Speed’s map is not featured particularly prominently. The town is also shown as separate to Staden and Fairfield (appearing on the map as ‘Faiers feld’). Buxton has since grown to envelope both. Despite it’s modest billing on the map, we know people were still coming to take the waters through the 16th and 17th centuries, including Mary Queen of Scots and many members of the Elizabethan nobility.