The Silk Mill exemplifies one of the changes brought about, or at least accelerated by, the war. In 1914, although working-class women could be found in pubs with their husbands, many pubs were ‘male drinking dens’ which no ‘respectable’ women would enter, except possibly into the ‘Jug and Bottle’ to fetch beer to drink at home. These would have a separate entrance and be partitioned off from the rest of the pub.
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The Seven Stars is one of Derby’s oldest public houses with a long history of brewing on the premises. Brewing continued during World War I only ending when the brewing licence and brewer transferred to The Friary Hotel in 1962.
As was the case for many businesses, the shortage of fit young men was one of the problems produced by the war. In 1916 and again in 1918 George Bates, licensee and brewer, advertised for an Ostler (man to look after horses) also willing to help with brewing. Presumably his 1916 recruit was called up because the later advertisement stressed that only men who were ineligible for military service should apply. As brewing continued it can be concluded that such a man was found.
Before the war there were few pubs run by women. However, the authorities, with some reservations, now allowed transfers to wives of servicemen. When Walter Bednall, the landlord of the Woodlark, joined the army, most likely conscripted, in late 1916 or early 1917, the licence was transferred to his wife Frances.
When the husband returned after the war, the licence was normally transferred back to him. Sadly, Walter was one of the Derby landlords who never returned.
The head of water behind this big weir once provided the power for another mill just downstream. This thunderous cataract, at the confluence of two rivers, is a good place to think about the elemental forces which gave rise to this landscape.
It is hard to believe today but the River Goyt once took an entirely different course. Where we stand now would have been nothing but solid sandstone. The change came 2.5 million years ago when the Earth went through a series of Ice Ages. The planet’s temperature dropped and vast areas were covered in huge ice sheets.
Before we leave the magic of Lud’s Church completely behind, we ought to consider how such an extraordinary feature came to be. Of course, there is a folk tale involving the Devil making a giant gash in the earth with his finger nail. More logically, can you find any signs of erosion, by water for instance?
This in no way looks like one of those small, water eroded cloughs. In fact, there is no sign at all that a stream has ever run in or out of here. For the record, Lud’s Church is around 17 metres deep and 100 metres long. The sides may be jagged, but they are straight drops of gritstone, draped with cushions of soft moss. There is not much of an eroded look about them.
Think back to the wider picture, though. The River Dane managed to find a passage through the hard gritstone wall of the Roaches somehow. There must have been a weakness. In fact the gritstone of this whole area is traversed by numerous ‘faults’ – cracks inside the rock. These run northwest to southeast, just as Lud’s Church does.
Where the bed of gritstone dips to the north, into what is known as the ‘Goyt Syncline’, a large mass of it simply cracked away. The rock slipped downhill a few metres, breaking along one of these fault lines. This sudden movement under the force of gravity opened up the chasm as we see it today.
The view back up to Minninglow from here provides a layer-cake scene through the historical use of this landscape. On the hill’s summit the prehistoric burial site; below that the natural outcrops of limestone (which provided the slabs for those tombs); then stone walls dating back to the enclosure acts of the late eighteenth century; finally the magnificent railway embankment of 1831.
But what are these huge earthworks in the foreground all about? A clue lies in the track surface we have just walked over. You may have noticed that, unlike the rest of the route, it was very sandy back there. By a happy accident, a large pocket of very valuable silica sand was discovered just below the surface of the soil and right next to the railway line.
It is part of series of such deposits, stretching in a line between here and Brassington, to the south east. The silica deposits were laid down in the hollows of the limestone by some long vanished river, during the late Miocene Era – around 10 million years ago.