• The Peaks Gritstone History

    I went for a walk around Fox House on Wednesday afternoon with a friend who wanted to tell me about the Grindstone heritage of Sheffield and how this industry played it's part in the Sheffield steel industry. I have perviously been informed that there was the remains of a Gritstone quarry overlooking Burbage and that It is now seen as somewhat of a mecca for local climbers, due to the steep nature of what remains of the quarry. Can i also just say that the weather couldn't have been any worse that day. It was horrid! 

    Gritstone played a vital role in the Industrial Revolution and Peak District millstones were considered to be the best quality for crushing lead-ore. This fine textured Gritstone was used to make the Grindstones which were vital to producing cutlery and other tools in Hathersage and other Sheffield areas. 

    These stones were cut out of the rock in rough blocks and after doing a bit of research online i found a good quote informing me of how this was done. 

    “The manner by which grinding-stones are here procured, appeared to me remarkable enough: the size is first traced on one of beds of free-stone, and all the stone about it removed; when the general form is obtained, several horizontal holes are pierced, half a foot into the stone towards its base, according to the intended thickness; dry pieces of wood are driven into these holes, and in a few days swelled by humidity, they cause the stone to split.” - J.J. Ferber, 1776. 

    You can still find stone that's been pieced by the wood laying around at the base of the wall like in the image below. 

    After this process the stones were then shaped and finished by skilled craftsmen at a quarry such as the one we were now stood in. Lives could depend on their skill for finishing as fractured foreheads and broken limbs, from the breaking of unsound or sometimes over-driven Grindstones were extremely common around Sheffield. Moving the stones from the quarry was a major undertaking and it's the ones that never got sold that are still lying below the Grindstones edge. 

    I must thank Andy McCall for his best tour-guide impersonations and inspiring this writing. Plus a special thank you must go to the residents of Parson House Farm, for letting us take a short-cut through their land. 

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