This view of the Pig of Lea was taken between 1903 and 1907.
On the left are the ruined remains of a former paint
mill, with a large millpond adjacent to the road. The pond,
which doesn't appear to have much water in it, was and still
is one of a number in the Via Gellia valley. Hidden amongst
the trees behind the inn is Shining Tor and on the opposite
hillside, where the road disappears around the corner, is
Via Gellia Road connects Cromford and Newhaven, and at the
beginning of the twentieth century took a great deal of traffic
on high days and holidays. The Via Gellia had been a popular
place to visit on the tourist route from Matlock Bath for
many years, but on this image there is not a brake or a wagonette
in sight; the only people in the picture are sitting outside
The road's newly laid surface was part of the Via Gellia
Improvement Scheme. At the end of 1902 Derbyshire County
Council agreed to pay £100 for improvements, covering amongst
other things the purchase of land so the road could be widened
near the Pig of Lead, the cost of making the road and the
In June 1903 Bonsall Council's General Purposes Committee
recommended advertising for tenders.
An advertisement dated 10 June 1903 was placed in the local
newspapers by Frederick Hartle, the Surveyor, and invited
tenders to remove old buildings, to build a new wall and
outbuildings and "making" the road-way in the Via
The following month it was announced that the contract had
been awarded to Mr. Clarence Pearson of Bonsall Dale.
Enlargement of the derelict buildings opposite the Pig
of Lead. An old carriage and a cart are stored
amongst the ruins. On the right is the new wall and pavement
built with the County Council money.
Henry Moore described the Via Gellia and the area around the
Pig of Lead in one of the excursions he took from Matlock Bath
"The road [from Cromford] now follows the winding
of the dale, by the side of a rivulet, on which are a succession
of mills and small cascades. ...
Coming to the Pig of Lead, public house, to the left is
the Via Gellia : on the right is the village of Bonsall :
some cottages are curiously situated half way up a steep
eminence on the right, that will excite note from their singular
After passing an old mill at the entrance
of the Via Gellia, and looking down the dale, we have a view
that is well adapted for drawing. The mill (which is called
Bonsal mill) is extremely picturesque, it is an overshot wheel,
and the water is conveyed over the road to it by a small wooden
aqueduct ; a bold rocky hill enriched with trees, forms an
interesting background ; these parts combine with considerable
effect, in producing a pleasing whole".
The "small wooden aqueduct" Moore mentions,
crossing the road from behind the Pig of Lead buildings, was
shown as a line on the 1:2,500 Ordnance
Survey County Map of Derbyshire of 1880; it went from behind
the Pig of Lead and the house next door across to the mill on
the other side.
In 1884 the aqueduct's existence was again mentioned when
news reported from Bonsall spoke of "destructive
overflows, the stream coming down from the Via Gellia being
swollen ... damage to merino factory ..The culvert bringing
the water down from Bonsall also became stopped up, and a fearful
mass of water poured right through the Pig of Lead Inn at the
bottom of Clatter Way".
aqueduct is also shown on a Francis Frith image, "The
Pig of Lead Inn" at Via Gellia, that was first published
in 1892 but it
is not shown on the 1899 map, although the mill buildings were
still standing at that time. They would undoubtedly have then
been either neglected or just ruins, before any work started
to improve the road.