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A selection of photographs, prints and postcards. Some have personal or family connections
Cromford, Black Rocks (or Stonnis)

During the nineteenth century the Black Rocks overlooking Cromford were often referred to as Stonnis. Local tour guides and booklets would describe the rocks much as Thomas Holmes did around 1875:

"BLACK ROCKS, OR STONNIS, midway between Cromford and Wirksworth. - From the summit of these dark gritstone rocks most extensive and magnificent views may be obtained, for in that species of beauty, which the landscape approaches to grandeur, it is unequalled in Derbyshire[1]".

The fields on the Middleton hillside behind Black Rocks still had the same stone wall
boundaries in the 1950 image below. The sky on the original is more of a pale lilac colour.

Rock climbing in Derbyshire developed as an outdoor pursuit at the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1915 J. Charles Cox observed: "It is only during the last ten years that the crags of Derbyshire have become well known to climbers ; but the county has now a good place on the list of climbing districts. Wherever the gritstone crops out it affords climbs more or less severe, but the best collection of them is found near Matlock, viz., at Alport Stone, the Black Rocks, and Robin Hood's Stride[2]".

He went on to say that "the cliffs are 80 ft. high, and the walls are either vertical or overhanging ; parts of the face have fallen away, leaving a series of natural bastions, five in number, all pointing due north, with gaps between of varying width and slope". Cox observed that "they afforded an excellent variety of climbing" and "Anyone who can do the Stonnis crack unroped must be a first class climber".

Despite it being war time, Black Rocks proved attractive in late May the same year when parties of intrepid climbers from the cities of Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield spent their weekend negotiating some of the most difficult climbs. On the plus side the absence of wind, as "a gale nearly always prevails", ensured that several of the more difficult ascents were able to be attempted by novices in mountaineering[3].

Below are two climbers on the Rocks around 1950. The view glimpsed down into the valley below, past the Wirksworth road, is stunning.

There ia another view from the rocks in the Matlock section of this web site:
"The Varied Fortunes of a Derbyshire Spa", a 1963 magazine article

There are also references to Stonnis, or the Black Rocks on the web site:
"Bemroses' Guide" to Matlock, Bakewell, Chatsworth, Haddon Hall.
"All About Derbyshire", by Edward Bradbury.
"Picturesque Excursions from Derby to Matlock Bath and its vicinity; being a Descriptive Guide".
Whites' Directory, Cromford, 1858

1. Postcard "Black Rocks, Wirksworth", published by Lilywhites of Sowerby Bridge. Not posted. © Ann Andrews collection.
2. "Black Rocks, Cromford, near Matlock Bath". Valentine's Series, No.21591, Printed in Great Britain. First published in 1894. Unused.
3. Photograph of "Black Rocks, Cromford" forms the centre pages of "Derbyshire Beauty Spots, No. 2" (about 1950), Copyright Simpson's the Printers, Friar Gate, Derby. Ann Andrews collection. Published with the kind permission of Michael Simpson on behalf of the Simpson family.
All information researched, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Holmes, Thomas H (about 1876), "Holmes' Guide to Matlock Bath and Neighbourhood" (booklet)

[2] Cox, John Charles, (1915, 2nd edition, revised), "Derbyshire" - Illustrated by J. Charles Wall, Methuen & Co., London.

[3] " Sheffield Daily Telegraph", 25 May 1915.

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View from the Black Rocks, overlooking Cromford Cotton Mills (the first built in England), Willersley Castle, Heights of Abraham and the High Tor

Willersley Castle and the Matlock Hills, from Cromford Hill