Ancient Monuments

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Meerbrook sough portal 380m south west of Leashaw Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Alderwasley, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.0934 / 53°5'36"N

Longitude: -1.5136 / 1°30'48"W

OS Eastings: 432671.193906

OS Northings: 355245.980752

OS Grid: SK326552

Mapcode National: GBR 6BW.24R

Mapcode Global: WHCDW.QHGV

Entry Name: Meerbrook sough portal 380m south west of Leashaw Farm

Scheduled Date: 24 February 1980

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017652

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30957

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Alderwasley

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Wirksworth St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument lies 1.5km north east of the town of Wirksworth, south of the
railway track.
It includes the intact dated portal of a sough or drainage tunnel. This is the
outlet for one of the best known soughs to serve the Derbyshire lead mining
field. Begun in 1772, its construction was affected by technological
difficulties, such as problems of ventilation during excavation. Progress was
extremely slow despite large initial investments and the cutting of the main
sough ceased in 1813, but was resumed from 1841.
The portal survives as a well preserved and wide-arched entrance, 3m wide and
2m high. The keystone bears the legend `F.H.1772'. The initials are those of
Francis Hurst, the sough proprietor at the time. The sough continues to
discharge around 17 million gallons of water a day. A water supply station was
set up in 1902 to draw off water from the sough, and this later water
management resulted in the installation of sluices and other modifications
around the portal, to adapt the sough mouth for water storage. These additions
represent the changing function and technology of the sough and are thus
included in the scheduling.
All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Meerbrook sough portal represents the rare survival of a well preserved,
dated outlet for one of Derbyshire's best documented soughs. Soughs were an
important feature of the Derbyshire lead mines and the Meerbrook sough portal
reflects many of the technological difficulties confronted by lead miners in
the fields of drainage, cutting and ventilation. The massive quantities of
water which still discharge from it indicate the scale of drainage problems
which early mining engineers faced. In addition, the sough illustrates the
long term planning strategies of mine proprietors and the high level of
investment which they thought worthwhile to secure the drainage of mines. It
will thus provide technological information for the study of drainage
technology and for organisational skills employed during the early 19th
century by owners of lead mines.

Source: Historic England

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