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The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Derbyshire
A selection of photographs, prints and postcards. Some have personal or family connections
Darley Dale: Stancliffe Quarry and Saw Mill
dray with massive stone
W. N. Statham [signed by] The Studio Matlock Bridge
Photograph of one of Forty Large Stones 9ft. x 9ft. x 2ft. 6in. containing 202½ Cubic Feet, and weighing about 17 Tons each, supplied for the London and North Western Railway Company in September, 1897, by the Stancliffe Estates Company Limited, Darley Dale, near Matlock.

In 1837 Jesse Rutherford, a Wingerworth stone merchant[1], was contracted to supply stone for three buildings at the Birmingham railway station. The stone was to be obtained from Stancliffe Quarry. The contractors, Messrs. Grisell and Peto of London, arranged for "a new waggon, capable of carrying 25 tons, with patent wheels made entirely of wrought iron, to convey the columns for the principle building, from Stonecliffe [Stancliffe] quarry to Cromford wharf"[2]. At that time the canal system played a major role in transporting goods.

The wheels on the drug in the above photograph were made of solid iron, something first noticed by Hugh Potter, the archivist of the "Friends of Cromford Canal"[3]. It is believed that this drug was the one commissioned for Mr. Rutherford as quarry owners and stone merchants would have kept such equipment for many years. Grenville Smith comments that the smaller, wider wheels on the cart were to reduce damage to the road surface. There was a chock behind the rear wheel and he suggests that the massive block was raised uphill by chains and pulley block and the horse would then take it onwards on the flat. The large stone block was hammer finished, rather than sawn, and would have been strapped down using the chains hanging down from the cart sides[4].

In 1843 stone from "Stonecliff Quarry" was to be used in Liverpool for the New Assizes Courts, St. George's Hall, &c. This was chosen because it was "a superior quality of grit or free stone, of a cream colour when dry, and a light drab colour when wet, - more pleasing to the eye, on a town building in particular, than even a white stone". It had to be carted to the High Peak Railway, taken from there to Whaley [Bridge] by rail, and then by canal to Runcorn[5]. In addition to the stone for St. George's Hall itself its four massive lions, which weighed six tons each, also came from Stancliffe[6]. The Liverpool orders for the Stancliffe stone were estimated to keep the quarrymen in work for the next four to five years[7].

When "Stone Cliff Hall" was advertised or sale in 1847 it was said to have "one of the finest quarries in the Kingdom of Beautiful White Freestone, possessing a durability equal to Granite" with blocks of enormous dimensions available. "A rapidly increasing business is now carried on with some of the chief cities and towns of the kingdom, producing at present a very large income" (see the images below).[8]. The following year A. H. Heathcote, Esq. was "discontinuing for the present" to work Stonecliff Quarry, so was selling various items[9].

Stancliffe's next owner was Sir Joseph Whitworth, who planted a magnificent rockery in the gardens and pleasure grounds with many shrubs[10]. He employed Joseph Dawson to help him.

Following the death of Lady Louisa Whitworth Stancliffe Hall estates was rapidly transformed in 1897. Darley Dale Stone Company amalgamated their business with that of Thomas Cooper Drabble (of Bentley Brook, etc.) and both businesses were to be carried on by Stancliffe Estates Co. Limited. Frederick Arkwright was to be the managing director and Messrs. Drabble and J. H. Dawson were managing directors[11]. Whitworth's cow house, where he had bred shorthorn cattle (the building was "the admiration of the countryside" in 1877[12]), was converted into workshops for the stone masons and steam cranes that could lift stones weighing 20 tons were erected. There were Steam Derrick and travelling cranes, and 20 or 30 hand cranes. Yet amidst all of this, it was claimed that the beautiful grounds had not been interfered with and the Company had thrown open the grounds to the public[11].

Two photographs of large stone blocks quarried at Stancliffe Quarry in 1908.

men with large stone in the quarry
VIEW IN STANCLIFFE QUARRY, taken August 17th, 1908.
The Stone marked X is 17ft. 6in. long, 12ft. 6in. wide and 19 ft' deep,
and contains nearly 4,000 cubic feet.

The men in these two photos were "getters", who worked at the quarry face, and "scapplers" who then worked the stone into a rough cubic shape. A derrick, shown in the top image, was used to lift massive stones onto an awaiting truck to take them down the hill to be worked on further. One group were measuring the larger block whilst others were grouped around another stone that was being dressed.

In 1912 large quantities of stone were being dispatched from the quarry[13]. In mid 1899 the directors were said to have been in negotiation with the Midland Railway Company as they hoped to have a direct connection between their works and quarries to the Midland Railway. They already had a private siding at Church Lane Crossings close to the station[14]. At the end of 1900 the contract was let and work was to commence[15], giving them a tremendous advantage to quickly move their stone from the quarry face to the client.

another large stone in the quarry
VIEW IN STANCLIFFE QUARRY, taken August 17th, 1908.
The Stone in the front is 30ft. long, 27ft. wide and 12 ft' deep,
and contains 9,720 cubic feet.

This massive stone later featured in a later brochure produced by the Stancliffe Estate Company, which mentioned some of the stone provided for public buildings in pre-railway days. One example was the former Manchester Royal Infirmary. After that building was pulled down the company bought some old, dressed columns and caps. They wanted to display them to show the durability of the Stancliffe stone "under the trying atmospheric conditions of Manchester"[16].

Stancliffe stone was used for the base stone of the Albert Memorial and later for pedestals, steps, etc. of other London famous memorials. These included ones to Queen Victoria, Edward VII as well as one with a Derbyshire connection, the Whitehall statue of the 8th Duke of Devonshire that was erected in 1911.[16].

View of Stancliffe Stone Yard, Whitworth Road, Darley Dale. About 1910.[17]

saw mill
Printed across the corner: W. N. Statham The Studio Matlock Bridge.
Stamped, in red: The Stancliffe Estates Co. Ltd.
Darley Dale Nr Matlock.
The following is written on the back of the frame:
View of Stancliffe Stone Yard, Whitworth Road Darley Dale. About 1910

The stone was carved close to the railway tracks, so it could be loaded into the waiting wagons. The Midland Railway's five plank wagons were filled with carved stone, including headstones, as well as a large dressed block in the wagon closest to us. A hay rick is on the right and poultry houses are on the far side of the boundary railings. Whether this was part of a small kitchen garden is not known but Stancliffe, like other quarries, provided hot food for its workforce. The "primitive kitchen" may have been housed in the single storey building behind the hay bale (on the far left). The cook here in 1910 was said to be a boy![17]

On the left hand track, past the trucks, is a small shunting engine, somewhat ironically called "the Sir Joseph Whitworth"[17]. Quite what the great man would have made of it making regular journeys through his by now ruined rock garden can only be guessed; he'd undoubtedly have admired the engine but possibly rued his decision to spend quite so much on that part of the garden.

saw mill detail
Enlargement of part of the above photo, showing some of the sawing sheds and masons at work.
The main shed roof is hinged. It is raised but would have been lowered if the weather had been inclement.
Part of the mechanism for raising it can be seen on the right, mostly hidden by the shed itself.
There are small sheds further along the yard, each having a protective roof/awning.
[Notice how close to the track the men worked.
The foreman is standing in the middle of the group.]

The Company was still winning large contracts in the 1930s. In 1935 they were awarded one for their dressed stone needed for the extension of Manchester Town Hall, and 100,000 cubic feet were to be supplied. They had just completed a contract for Bolton Civic Centre.[18]. In 1937 Stancliffe stone was being dressed for the new Chapter House at Sheffield Cathedral[19].

In 1947 a notice was given regarding a Petition in the High Court for the reduction of the Company's capital[20]. This was followed two years later by three notices dealing with the Voluntary Winding-up of the Stancliffe Estates Company Limited.[21]

References to Stancliffe Hall or the Estate:

Stone Quarrying in the Matlocks mentions Stancliffe Estates Company Limited

Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, 1891, North Darley (Darley Dale)

Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire, 1899 - Matlock Bridge mentions Stancliffe Estates Co. Ltd.

The Matlock photographer William Nathan Statham worked here when it was a school.

Darley Dale War Memorial is constructed from Stancliffe stone

  Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire:
Pedigrees, Documents & Deeds : Surnames C - F, Herbert Greensmith Beard, Stancliff Hall
Pedigrees, Documents & Deeds : Surnames G - L, Sir Paul Jenkinson

Four photographs of Stancliffe Estate Company. All are mounted on stiff board.
In the collection of, provided by and © Grenville Smith.
Page researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] Jesse Rutherford's business did not survive, despite the contract - see Matlock & Matlock Bath Names in the London Gazette (1838). He returned to farming his land at Wingerworth.

[2] "Derby Mercury", 22 Feb 1837. London and Birmingham Railway. Also the "Coventry Standard", 10 March 1837. With thanks to Grenville Smith for both articles, who added that Grisell & Peto were one of the premier contracting companies of that era and worked on many high profile projects.

[3] With grateful thanks to Hugh Potter.

[4] With grateful thanks to Grenville, also a member the "Friends of Cromford Canal" for his help, especially with additional press cuttings and notes.

[5] "Liverpool Standard and General Commercial Advertiser", 19 December 1843. The New Assizes Courts, St. George's Hall &c.

[6] Firth, J. B. (1908) "Highways and Byways in Derbyshire", MacMillan & Co., London.

[7] "Derbyshire Courier", 31 December 1842. Mr. Heathcote was to re-open his quarries at Darley Dale.

[8] "Derby Mercury", 29 September 1847. Sale notice for Stone Cliff Hall.

[9] "Derby Mercury", 21 June 1848. Arthur H Heathcote, who had moved from Stanton Hall about 1823/4, was shown at Darley in the Matlock entry of Pigot's Directory, 1828/9. He was buried at St. Helen's on 8 July, 1869 although was then farming at Blackwell, Bakewell.

[10] "Derbyshire Times", 2 October 1897.

[11] "Derbyshire Mercury", 6 October 1897. The Home of the late Sir Joseph Whitworth, Bart.

[12] "Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press", 6 October 1877. Sir Joseph Whitworth at Stancliffe, extracted from "Celebrities at Home" in "World" and published in numerous newspapers of the time.

[13] "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire", 1912.

[14] "Derbyshire Times", 8 July 1899. A New Railway Scheme for Darley Dale.

[15] "Derby Mercury", 19 December 1900.

[16] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 2 Dec 1926. Town and Country Gossip. Stancliffe Stone, Darley Dale. See more about Manchester Royal Infirmary on Piccadilly, Manchester and the Albion Hotel, 1820s-1926

[17] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 18 February 1910. Stancliffe Quarries and Gardens, Darley Dale. The list of British buildings where Stancliffe stone was supplied was lengthy and another list of the stone provided by their other quarries in Darley Dale, Matlock and Cromford was impressive, too.

[18] "Derbyshire Times", 26 April 1935. Stone from local quarry for Manchester Town Hall. The building's foundation stone was a piece of Stancliffe stone measuring 10 feet x 5 feet and 18 inches thick. Also "Derby Daily Telegraph", 26 April 1935

[19] "Sheffield Independent", 2 Sept 1937. Stone for Sheffield Cathedral. The Cathedral's Provost visited Darley Dale to watch the stone being prepared.

[20] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 20 February 1947. Official Notices. In the High Court of Justice Chancery Division.

[21] "The London Gazette". On 1st March a Liquidator was appointed for the winding-up and a second notice stated that Herbert Clifford Brooke Taylor had been appointed to the role. A final notice on 10 May 1949 stated that the account and Liquidator's report was to be held on 14 June.

Derbyshire Pictures Index
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Also see
Images of
Matlock & Matlock Bath
Stone Quarrying
in the Matlocks

Stancliffe Hall

Matlock Station Stone Yard

Photograph of Knabb Quarry, Sydnope.
Vernon Lamb Archive (VLA5015)

Midland Railway Distances
shows their sidings

More about the Matlock photographer William Nathan Statham