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Lumsdale Mills and associated water management features

A Scheduled Monument in Matlock Town, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.1436 / 53°8'37"N

Longitude: -1.5336 / 1°32'0"W

OS Eastings: 431296.166989

OS Northings: 360821.953456

OS Grid: SK312608

Mapcode National: GBR 6B2.WN5

Mapcode Global: WHCDP.D7ZV

Entry Name: Lumsdale Mills and associated water management features

Scheduled Date: 29 May 2014

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1417570

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Matlock Town

Built-Up Area: Matlock

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Tansley Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Derby


Lumsdale Mills is a multi-period, multi-industry complex dating from at least the beginning of the C17.

Source: Historic England


Upper Lumsdale is a steep sided valley cut into the Millstone Grit geology, a characteristic of this southern tip of the 'Dark Peak' area of Derbyshire. The main attraction of industry to the valley was the readily available power source provided by the fast flowing Bentley Brook which bisects the valley and provides a series of dramatic waterfalls along its course as it travels south.

The scheduled monument includes a series of mills serving a number of different industries, which follow the line of the Bentley Brook to the south. The remains of buildings survive as ruinous structures, some up to roof height level, and well defined earthworks. Each cluster of buildings is linked by lengths of paths, walls, leats, culverts, head and tail races, ponds, flues and pipework relating to the water management systems and the process flows of each industry. Grit stone 'squeeze stiles' are also evident marking route ways around the site, again linking stages of the industrial processes.

At the northern end of the monument is Pond 1 which survives as a silted but seasonally waterlogged area, lined by trees and bounded on the southern side by a large dam. The dam dates to the 1780s and is built of coursed limestone grit blocks and survives up to c. 2.5m in height. Immediately south of the dam wall are the remains of the Bone Mill; low walls are evident above ground but most of the remains are earthworks surviving up to 1.5m high. Evidence of the wheel bearing suggests the wheel was only approximately 4.30m in diameter and was either overshot or breast shot. The energy was needed to power the bellows for smelting and was originally provided by leats that carried the water to and from the mill; these are still evident as earthworks. The seasonally waterlogged silts of the pond have a high level of potential for preserving organic artefacts and for the preservation of botanic remains which could enhance our understanding of the historic environment.

South of the Bone Mill is a footpath crossing a small brook but was originally a road running from the stone quarries, which lie to the north-east of the monument. Stone was taken to Matlock Station to be dressed before being exported all over the world; it was an important source of Millstone Grit building stone used in Lumsdale's industrial structures.

Further south is Pond 2, this remains water filled but the profile has been altered through silting and the encroachment of vegetation. A stone-wall lining to the pond is evident on the southern edge and south-east corner and would have helped to revet the pond around the sluice, which is still visible in the southern wall. Immediately south is the terrace known as Pond Cottages; the buildings are not included in the scheduling but the ground beneath is included because of the archaeological potential of the buried remains of the lead cupola for which the structure was originally constructed.

Pond 3 lies south of Pond Cottages; this was part of the later phase of development in the valley. The sluice at the southern end controlled the flow of water to the mills further downstream. It is understood a circular gate in the centre of the pond allows water to be emptied out. This pond was restored in 1983 including some of the visible stone work on the western side.

Below Pond 3 is the Saw Mill which stands as a ruinous building with the earthworks of various leats and features surrounding it. Remains of a metal pipe which brought water from the centre of the pond to the overshot wheel is evident. The wheel pit survives, its size suggesting that the wheel was between 4.6m and 6.10m in diameter. An iron stanchion, associated with a hole in the wall, provided the drive for three or four pairs of stones inside the mill. A French Burr stone lies adjacent to the path. Water from the Saw Mill directly powered the mills below.

To the south of the Saw Mill is the Paint Mill thought to be the oldest mill in the valley, possibly dating from the 1600s. It was last used for Barytes grinding; a white mineral is still visible on the floor of the mill. Pairs of stones ground minerals in a building close to the brook which were then dried inside on the metal floor by hot air flowing beneath. Channels from the heating system are evident on the surface. An excavation in 1986 exposed the floor and a red brick hypocaust drying system. The building partly stands to roof level, with various openings and blocked openings serving as a testament to former uses and adaptation. It is believed a wooden launder carried water from the Saw Mill to an overshot, or possibly back-shot, water wheel at the Paint Mill. Another visible feature is a metal plate which was used for adjusting the flue. Changes in use over time have resulted in the remodelling of the building and power systems, and different phases are clearly visible in the standing structure and the surrounding earthworks.

Outside the mill is a large, circular stone trough. This was used in an early method of bleaching. It is thought that hanks of yarn were hung on a rack inside the trough and turned by means of a handle in a soda-lye solution; a hinged lid kept the rain out. A drying ground or 'bleaching croft' lies on the opposite side of the brook and would have been reached by a path and bridge. A blocked gateway in the stone wall on the opposite side of the brook aligns with probable footings of a bridge immediately adjacent to the Paint Mill. The bleaching process was completed using sunlight. These features are linked by paths at different levels and channels which presumably carried water to and from the mills at different times in the past.

The site of the Grinding Mill, c.30m south of the Paint Mill, has witnessed several changes in use from corn, red lead and mineral grinding, evident in the standing structure. The wheel pit housed a large overshot wheel which, according to photographic evidence, originally sat within a roofed structure with castellation that has since been removed. The building abuts the natural rock face, but there is some evidence of movement away from the rock. Evidence for a pair of grinding stones can be seen in the horizontal curved shaping at the top of the wheel pit.

The farm complex south of the Grinding Mill dates to the late C19, and once supported Lumsdale House, an early-C19 house understood to have been built for the mill manager. The group of farm buildings has undergone considerable alteration, although the farmhouse does survive as a roofed building. Neither Lumsdale House nor the farm buildings are part of the monument.

At the southern end of the monument lies the Upper and Lower Bleach Works, the most substantial buildings within this section of the valley and considered by many to give the valley additional importance. The building survives as a ruined structure with evidence of several rooms or compartments with characteristics of different stages of the bleaching process. The Upper Bleach Works was thought originally to have been a corn mill with a very primitive wooden wheel and metal lattice work. The wheel is understood to have been early-C18 in date, although this no longer survives. Water reached this site via a wooden launder directly from the base of the waterfall. Structural and archaeological evidence for this is likely to survive in places along the valley.

The Upper Bleach Works probably dealt with the final stages of the bleaching process including drying, finishing, packing and dispatch. Here there was a drying room, and the archaeological potential for evidence of the metal floor for drying candlewick cotton is high. Heat was produced by a boiler, the position of which is still evident. Stone runnels are visible either side of the current road, it is possible that these continue below the modern road surface linking the Upper and Lower Bleach Works. These served as a railway which carried wagons, pulled up from the Lower Bleach Works by a pulley system and let down again by gravity. The metal parts and boilers were removed from the site to help with the World War II effort.

The Lower Bleach Works were built as a cotton mill in the 1780's. The mill stands to two storeys but is a roofless ruin. It is typical of a smaller mill, originally three storeys and eight bays with little architectural embellishment. It is built of roughly coursed rubble gritstone with wedge lintels and keystones to the now blocked windows. The multiple rows of closely spaced windows provided an even light. Early-C20 photos show it with a graduated stone-slate roof. A smithy which has been restored by the Arkwright Society for future use as an interpretative centre, survives within the range of structures and retains its hearth. A boiler once stood close to the smithy and from here a flue ran underground to a tall chimney c165m north-east of the bleach works. The chimney served a number of flues which are known to run underground from a variety of industries within the valley. This system is very likely to survive beneath the ground surface and has the archaeological potential to significantly enhance our understanding of how the valley functioned at the height of its industrial past.
The Lower Bleach Works were established as a result of the cotton spinning industry and required a huge amount of water to power the wheel and for the bleaching process. The water wheel was enclosed within the building and powered from the waterfall via the Upper Bleach Works. Water from the other side of the road to the Lower Bleach Works supplied two stone-lined reservoirs, used as part of the bleaching processes. It is likely that the archaeological evidence for the water supply system to the reservoirs survives beneath the ground. Within the Lower Bleach Works building is a pair of large stone bleaching/souring tanks with space beneath the floor that acted as a reservoir or dump for chemicals.

The scheduled area begins at the footbridge just north of Ivy Cottage, it follows the northern edge of the footpath (marked by a fence) to the east. Where the path turns south its eastern edge marks the monument's boundary and it continues in this direction for approximately 80m. At this point the boundary turns to the south-west cutting through the wooded area until it meets Bentley Brook immediately north of the northern end of the dam wall. At this point the line follows the eastern edge of the brook until it meets the footpath (and former track from Lumsdale Quarries) where it then follows a field boundary wall to the south, on the east side of the brook. It continues along this boundary until it meets the road leading to Lumsdale Farm. It crosses the road, and again joins the boundary wall to the west of the farm, continuing along this line to the south until it meets the road known as Lumsdale. Crossing the road the line continues in a westerly direction along the western edge of a paved footpath. At the south-west edge of the garden belonging to Lumsdale House the monument's boundary follows the garden boundary back to the road known as Lumsdale. After crossing the road the line follows the eastern edge of the road until it turns to the south-east to follow the northern edge of a track. The monument's boundary then turns to include the field containing the chimney before rejoining the road leading to Lumsdale Farm. Here it turns to the north following the western edge of the road before crossing the road and skirting around the garden boundary to the properties known as The Willows, Pinecroft and Ivy Cottage until it meets the northern extent of the monument's boundary.

All modern road and path surfaces, signs, railings and viewing platforms are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath all these features is included. The Smithy, located at the southern tip of the monument, is a roofed building with potential for adaptive reuse and as such is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is included. Pond Cottages are in use as dwellings and are excluded from the scheduling but given their historic context and potential for the survival of archaeological deposits relating to the cupolas, the ground beneath these buildings is included.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The standing and buried remains of Lumsdale Mills and the associated water management features which date from C17, are scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: for the exceptional standing remains and buried deposits which depict the continuity and change in the form and function of the industrial landscape within this section of the Lumsdale Valley;

* Potential: for the stratified archaeological deposits which retain considerable potential to increase our understanding of the buildings and their associated industries. Such deposits can not only identify the sequential development of the individual industries but can also reveal the intricate network of water management features which physically linked, and were integral to, the functioning of all the industrial processes. In all its guises, the archaeological evidence has the potential to aid the understanding of the significance of the valley in the social and economic structure of the communities within the wider landscape;

* Group value and Diversity: for the range, complexity and number of industries represented here but also for the diversity and extent of archaeological features which link the industries not only to each other but also to the water source offered by the Bentley Brook;

* Historical importance: for the historic association with Richard Arkwright and the Watts, Lowe and Co. who spread Arkwright’s revolution to the valleys with water power; Lumsdale was caught up in the ‘gold rush’ which followed Arkwright’s loss of patent on his machinery and was part of the first wave of expansion of the Arkwright factory system in 1783-84.

Source: Historic England


Tansley village , accessed . from
Charlton, Chris, Lumsdale Tour Notes, undated,
Council for British Archaeology, Bentley Brook, 1972,
Derbyshire Historic Environment Record,
Lumsdale: Conservation Area Character Appraisal, Nov 2010,

Source: Historic England

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