Updated 31 May 2008

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Hopton-Wood Stone

Hopton-Wood Limestone was first quarried about 1820 in Hopton Wood at the West end of Via Gellia, 1.5 miles West of Middleton. The limestone was very fine, almost like marble, used for over 100,000 War Graves, though now worked out. The Western outcrop was quarried by Hopton-Wood Stone Co, the Eastern (almost in the village of Middleton) by Killer brothers, beginning about 1870. In 1905 the two firms merged. The number of quarry workers from Middleton and Wirksworth rose from 61 in 1871 to 234 in 1901, from the 8th to the most common job among males over 10.
Details below are taken from "Hopton-Wood Stone", published 1947. See more about Quarries at Hopton
Thanks for permission of Jeremy Hewitt to use his website at: hoptonwoodstone.co.uk.

Panels on Moot Hall, Wirksworth,
clear-cut after 130 years weather.

         Entries from Wirksworth Area Census
Quarry      Types of   Type of jobs recorded
workers     stone
1841:   5
1851:  31   Limestone  Dresser   Labourer  Engine driver
1861:  21   Gritstone  Polisher  Owner     Engine tenter
1871:  78   Sandstone  Carter    Getter    Pony driver
1881: 225   Tuffa      Felter    Mason     Sett maker
1891: 296              Waller    Scappler  Curb dresser
1901: 603              Cutter    Waggoner  Boy
                       Sawyer    Merchant    

The start
Reducing a newly-felled block
Experts in conference
Turning the block
Splitting the block
Moving on

The Middle Peak Quarry was on the South side of the CHPR and was served by a short branch line from a point near the foot of Middleton Incline. Believed operating 1842-1857.



    of Hopton-Wood Stone

    Millions of years ago, long before the appearance of mankind, most of the British Isles lay under water, and the grand mountain country which we know as Derbyshire was merely a bed of limey mud. Conditions in this part of the sea were favourable to the existence of certain marine organisms and particularly to certain types having hard parts composed of calcium carbonate. They included corals, crinoids (sea-lilies), brachiopods (twin shelled molluscs), and foraminifera (minute organisms with a chambered shell); and their skeletons, accumulating on the sea floor, were buried, not only by successive deposits of skeletal remains, but also by quantities of calcium carbonate precipitated from the sea water. Terrific pressure over millions of years from higher and higher sediments and from earth movements that sank our valleys and flung up mountain peaks, compacted them in their partly recrystallised calcite matrix to make layer on layer of limestone.

    It was the era known to geologists as the Carboniferous period for, towards its close, vast primeval forests were buried and crushed, and became coal; so the 'Mountain Limestone' of this period is more scientifically called Carboniferous and a very beautiful variety of Lower Carboniferous Limestone is the unique Hopton-Wood Stone.

    Unique, because there is only one Hopton-Wood Stone, which is quarried by The Hopton-Wood Stone Firms Limited, at
    Middleton-by-Wirksworth, near Matlock Bath, in Derbyshire. In a district famous for remarkably pure limestones, Hopton-Wood stands out as exceptional. The calcium-carbonate content of other stones is very high, frequently exceeding 94% of the rock mass, yet the average calcium-carbonate content of Hopton-Wood is more than 99%, while its iron content stands at the extraordinarily low figure of 0.02% This purity, this absence of foreign sediments of grit and sand and mud, shows that no streams were draining into that part of the sea-bed during the long ages when the Hopton-Wood Measures were being deposited. Tranquil and relatively constant settling led to very slight variation in chemical purity from bed to bed, which are of an unusual thickness. A bedding plane usually indicates a pause or changed conditions in the deposition; the thick beds of the Hopton-Wood Measures prove that interruptions were less frequent here than in the formation of most other mountain limestones.

    For some reason yet to be explained, Hopton-Wood is less erratically jointed than adjacent limestones. Joints are caused by shrinkage of the mass in drying-out and in compacting, or by folding and faulting of the strata: in Hopton-Wood the effect of these actions seems to have been reduced to the minimum, and large blocks of the stone can readily be quarried.

    Visitors to Middleton Quarry observe across the face a band of fine-grained impervious clay, which is the decomposed remains of lava that flowed from some submarine volcanic eruption, scaling off the sediment below. This feature, known locally as the 'Great Clay', was the last of Hopton-Wood's primeval blessings, for it has formed a sill, preventing the percolation into the lower measures of water which would not only have enlarged the joints but filled them with quantities of clayey material whose iron constituents must have ruined the delicate even colouring which is one of the great charms of Hopton-Wood Stone.

    The lava overflow ceased ; upon it the depositing of limestone was resumed, but not as uniformly as before. Above the 'Great
    Clay' lies the ordinary mountain limestone of Derbyshire. This makes excellent road-surfacing and furnace-flux, but has not the solid, uniform texture which renders the Hopton-Wood Measures so attractive to architect and sculptor.

    Hopton-Wood Stone is Dark or Light, according to whether it comes from the top or the bottom of the quarry face. Perhaps the beds which lie immediately below the band of igneous clay were impregnated with volcanic ash blown into the sea before the onset of erupting lava. That is a geological point which has not been settled, but the two complementary yet contrasting tones of Hopton-Wood have an attractiveness that needs no arguing.

    The qualities which distinguish Hopton-Wood Stone were early recognised and its reputation as an English stone of great beauty has grown steadily during the hundred and fifty years since its first uncovering. Architects and builders know that for embellishment and enrichment no stone can surpass it, for it may be supplied in all lengths from ten feet downwards and in thicknesses varying from three feet to three quarters of an inch; while its fine and compact texture combined with extreme hardness enable the most intricate designs to be worked sharply and reliably, with a polish as brilliant as that of any marble obtainable.


    and Hopton-Wood Stone

    The Quarryman finds comfort in the paradox that, while stone construction may diminish, the desire for stone in building is undeniably on the increase. When the camera became popular there was no lack of jeremiahs to prophesy the death of portrait painting; just as the cinema would oust the stage and radio meant the end of concert-going, so the coming of the girder and the concrete-mixer were jubilantly hailed by the iconoclast as doom to brick and stone. In fact, none of these tragedies occurred, for painting gained fresh impetus, the stage awoke to new life, never before have concerts been so crowded, and concrete's popularity has made stone seem more desirable to the discriminating taste.

    It may be an historic fact that stone is no longer the preeminent dynamic factor in building-construction, yet it is still the finest architectural medium. The fundamentals of the art are sought in stone, and where it is desirable to preserve an emotional balance with tradition, as in such works as the Bank of England, the architect will choose to design within the limits and conventions stone imposes. The demand for stone in facing and lining has never been so heavy; for interior work, particularly, freed from the domination of wood and stucco, stone is more and more specified by architects, who allow it to express its intrinsic beauty without apology or concealment.

    Architectural integrity is preserved, but it is a fresh integrity, by which stone is not tortured out of its own nature to act as wall-
    paper, or pretend to functions which it is not in fact performing.

    Here is a new architectural democracy where stone, while looking handsome, must do its share of work, preserve its own quality, yet discreetly integrate with surrounding materials, be these wood, glass, metal, vitrolite the 'gingerbread' of Adam plasterwork, or, hardest of all concessions, other kinds of stone. It must have brilliance of surface and texture allied to strength and durability, and a colour which is in feeling with the mode. It must be a well-mannered stone.

    All this is Hopton-Wood. It has the inherent loveliness of marble, but the present reaction from an indiscriminate nineteenth-century use of foreign marble and its commercial sour-milk substitute does not reflect at all on Hopton-Wood, for the discreet creamy colour of the Light and the bolder yet honeyed tones of the Dark are thoroughly twentieth century in feeling. Even in its rough sawn state it is a handsome stone, but when it has been brought to a fine polish it is unrivalled in a beauty that appeals to the sophisticated modern taste for subtlety.

    Stones are chosen for their characteristics and Hopton-Wood is notable for style. Yet Hopton-Wood is strong as well as beautiful, having nearly three times the crushing resistance of most Freestones ; so it is especially suitable for columns, pilasters, staircases, ashlar, and flooring.

    It is a particular characteristic of Hopton-Wood, shared by few other British stones, that while it may be quarried in fairly large sizes it is equally capable of the utmost delicacy; it can be used for massive effects or sawn to 3/4 -in. thickness for wall linings.

    A visit to Middleton Quarry demonstrates at once the care and craftsmanship which are devoted to the quarrying and preparation of the stone. Difficulties patiently overcome are visible to the experienced eye in the very overburden -that soil, mountain limestone and toadstone or lower lava -which must be cleared before each stage of quarrying can begin: yet it is proverbial that the greater the overburden the more excellent the stone beneath.
    As it lies, Hopton-Wood is in beds from 3 ft. to 12ft. thick and is jointed naturally, not only by the horizontal 'partings' that separate the layers, but also vertically. Work is not done hastily. A stone is carefully chosen from the layer for 'winning' - the operation of detaching a block from surroundings it has known for half a million years - and the newly fractured surfaces are minutely examined for evidence of flaws. It is then turned over to the instinctively skilled hand of the scappler, who roughly squares up the stone for sawing. Should the decision be to split it, the men concerned will drill a line of shallow holes across the block, which are then gently pegged till the two halves fall apart.

    These men, who have passed their lives within a few yards of the quarry, know the virtues and foibles of Hopton-Wood better perhaps than they understand the chemical mysteries of their own bodies: they can tell at a glance good stone from bad and, by a
    sense attained only with experience, diagnose a fault which is invisible to the untrained eye.

    The difference between Light and Dark Hopton-Wood is that the former is less densely marked by crystalline figurations, although the character of both stones is the same. In formation the dark measures lie over the light, and though there are gradations of tone the two extremes are so clearly distinguished and so consistent in texture that exact replication of tint can be assured over considerably long runs. If the working of the stone be entrusted to our own masons and craftsmen we can guarantee that colourings and markings will match over the whole of a commission. In bedding and backing, efflorescence and even staining may result from indiscriminate use of unsuitable materials; but we have made careful research into this subject and it is advisable to follow our considered recommendations.

    A stone may have strength and beauty, yet be unpopular with architects and builders for two reasons: its cost and its unneighbourliness. Hopton-Wood is not a cheap material, but when one considers that it has as much hardness and reliability as Carrara Marble and will take and retain a brilliant polish equal to that of any marble in the world, that it may with perfect assurance be specified for work requiring the utmost delicacy and intricacy as well as for positions demanding bulk and strength, then one cannot call it expensive.

    As for architectural good manners, Hopton-Wood is well bred and will harmonise with anything but the shoddy and meretricious. One effect it will not give is pretentious vulgarity; but for dignity, charm, restraint, and that enrichment which is the opposite of ostentation, Hopton-Wood is without equal. In the Sheffield City Hall engraved venetian-glass mirrors are let into Hopton-Wood walls. In Derby Police Court metal balustrades and fittings go perfectly with Hopton-Wood wall linings. At the New York World's Fair in 1939, a dedicatory panel of Hopton-Wood was mounted on the fluted-plaster walls of the British
    Pavilion; Hopton-Wood columns, arches, and ashlar are combined with glazed brick in the Prudential Assurance buildings at Furnival's Inn; Shoreditch Public Library, bombed in the war,had a painted frieze and wrought-iron grilles with walls and stairs of Hopton-Wood; the Imperial Institute has Hopton-Wood piers, arches, pilasters, and cornice with plaster work above wood panelling. Tile and mosaic are introduced with piers and linings of Hopton-Wood in the Catholic Church, Spanish Place; in the County Hall at Northallerton, pillars, stairs, ashlar, and balustrades are of Hopton-Wood, while the floors are chequered in black and white marbles, and caps and copings are of Black Frosterley Marble. Hopton-Wood undoubtedly looks finest in restrained surroundings, to which it imparts a delicate warmth and texture, yet in the entrance to Sheffield City Hall it integrates triumphantly with a lavish and colourful scheme of marble, brightly decorated plaster vaulting, wrought-iron grilles, bronze gates, and stained glass.

    In the nicety of transition from stone pillar and wall-lining to a plaster ceiling Hopton-Wood shows a pleasing graciousness. The pictures of the Bank of England demonstrate how subtly the transition has been managed by the use of Hopton-Wood, whose colour flatters and brings out the quality of the plasterwork.


    and Hopton-Wood Stone

    Those who carve in stone are, more than any other artist or craftsman, at the mercy of their material. A painter can discard, in the very middle of his work, a pigment that has failed him and procure another; a composer of music, if he cannot reach his effect with the means to hand, may call for any instrument he desires to augment his orchestra; a poet . . . but there is no need to labour the contrast between these free men and him whose medium is unmerciful, allowing no second thoughts, no painting out, no change of key, no proof revision. Even the carver of wood, because the piece will usually he smaller and so more confidently chosen, is spared the chagrin of that artist who, after hours of labour, encounters in the heart of his stone an irremediable fault.

    There are stones which have immediate beauty, yet are useless to the sculptor: too soft, too coarse, too unreliable, they give more trouble than they are worth. Beauty in stone must be much more than skin-deep if it is to stand up to the graver and chisel. Beauty, indeed, must join the queue with other characteristics equally important.

    What are the characteristics of Hopton-Wood? First, it is a hard and consistent stone, of a compact and crystalline texture with even markings caused by symmetrical crinoids or 'sea lilies'. Second, it will take a brilliant polish and it is an English stone which is so uniform, that it may be matched, piece for piece, with an exact similarity of tint and texture. Third, Hopton-Wood is obtainable in two colours, the Light being a rich
    warm cream, and the Dark, having more encrinities, a deeper version of the other. Fourth, age does not impair its consistent colouring; and, provided our advice is sought for bedding and backing, the surface of the stone will never stain or powder.

    Monumental and architectural carvers appreciate the wearing qualities of Hopton-Wood. The same sharp arris that the artist leaves will be as clean to the eye of many generations to come. One hundred and thirty years ago the facade of the Moot Hall at Wirksworth was embellished with panels of Hopton-Wood bearing the symbols associated with the ancient office of Barmaster. Today, despite exposure to the rough climate of the Derbyshire mountains, they are as clear-cut as the day they were put up, in sharp contrast to the scaling wall behind them.

    For those who desire to erect a memorial of enduring beauty, Hopton-Wood cannot be excelled. As small tablet or heroic statuary, as a headstone or a mausoleum, this lovely stone will fulfil every conceivable requirement. It is a co-operating stone and responds to the mood of artist or craftsman: reverential for solemn usage yet charming as an object of virtu, handsome for
    domestic embellishment (as, for example, a fireplace) and as subtle as any sculptor cares to make it.

    As for general interior work, Hopton-Wood is ideal not only for plain wall-linings, as well as for stairs and pavings, but also in all those decorative uses, such as balustrades, ornamental columns and pilasters, where the craftsman's skill may achieve breadth or delicacy in a stone of almost infinite range.

    When so many well-known artists have used Hopton-Wood it might be invidious to name a few, yet it would be ungrateful to close this brief account of the stone without a tribute to the memory of that consummate artist and craftsman, Erie Gill, who made Hopton-Wood peculiarly his own. A lover of fine lettering, Gill used Hopton-Wood for much of his best inscriptive work; a master of bas-relief, his Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral demonstrate conclusively his preference for Hopton-Wood; a sculptor of many lovely pieces, his Hopton-Woods seem to be the ultimate flowering of his genius. So fastidious a craftsman would not have tolerated a stone that did not satisfy explicitly all the exacting canons of his difficult art.
    ---------------------end of article-----------------------

    Contemporaneous account about 1926


    The name Hopton-Wood is derived from the fact that this stone was first discovered and quarried in a wood on the Hopton Estate in that far-famed Derbyshire beauty spot, the Via Gellia, which itself owes its Latin name to the Gell family whose association with Hopton dates back to the days of Cromwell.

    It is over 100 years since the stone was first quarried, the original outcrop in the wood being soon abandoned for more extensive workings on the opposite side of the valley. Until 1905 these quarries, now known as the Hopton group, were exploited by the Hopton-Wood Stone Company, whilst the rival Firm of Killer Brothers opened and developed the same formation from the Eastern side of the hill on their property in the village of Middleton. In 1905 the two undertakings were amalgamated and the present Company formed. New Works were constructed containing the then most up-to-date stone sawing and dressing machinery, but although the stone had established a reputation for itself amongst architects and was extensively specified for high class work the Company never succeeded in making much headway until after the War. Since then the productive capacity of the Quarries has been steadily increased and the Works completely re-organised and enlarged, with the result, that the output of Hopton-Wood Stone in blocks or sawn has been raised from something like 8,000 cube feet per annum in 1919 to approximately 25,000 cube feet at the present time. In the past six years 120,000 cube feet (nearly 10,000 tons) of Hopton-Wood Stone have been utilised solely for the production of War Graves headstones apart from the normal demands of architecture amid the Building and Monumental Trades. During that period such important works as the paving of Liverpool Cathedral, the Winchester College War cloisters and many ******


    The Hopton group of quarries are situated about 5½ miles to the South West of Matlock, while the Middleton Quarry lies about a mile due East of the former group and at an elevation of about 1,000 feet above sea level. They are separated by the crown of the hill which runs North and South and rises in a flattened mound to some considerable height above them, and are themselves cut out of the West and East faces of the same hill. This hill consists of Carboniferous Limestone with a layer of Igneous rock interstratified similar to a damp proof course in a thick wall. The layer of igneous rock is well exposed in the faces of the eastern and western quarries and is known to the quarrymen as the "Great Clay" This interesting feature of the "Great Clay" which we shall allude to as the "Sill" divides the hill into two parts, with very different characteristics. The rock above the "Sill" is the ordinary "Mountain Limestone" of Derbyshire, while the underlying limestone rock has undergone a complete alteration or metamorphism. When we examine the altered rock we find it has been converted into a Marble of considerable value for architectural and monumental building purposes.

    From the completely altered or metamorphosed top layer with its curious mottling through the various layers below it we find many gradations of colour ranging from the "dark Hopton-Wood stone" to the "light Hopton Wood stone" while the symmetrical remains of "Sea-lilies" contained in it lend added beauty to the stone when polished. Perhaps it may not be out of place to enquire into the reason for this great difference in the character of the limestone above and below the "Sill" The Sill is really a dolerite which may be regarded simply as a basalt of coarser crystallisation which has undergone a process of decomposition. Where it is exposed to the air it weathers in a remarkable manner, assuming spherical shaped forms, the outer coatings of which exfoliate into concentric onion-like coats. Whenever this happens the broken-off pieces disintegrate and tend to hold up the water which has found a passage along the joints. A chemical action then takes place adding a further stage in the process of "weathering" until the rock has got so rotten as to entirely lose its original basaltic character, and becomes in many places so soft as to be capable of being dug out with a spade. If we break open a piece that has undergone only a partial change we find the rock of a sombre brown colour or yellowish hue speckled all over with whitish or yellowish markings, the whole being suggestive of the skin of a toad. Hence the name "Toadstone" which is often given to this particular form of Dolerite. We have already stated that the limestone rock above the Sill is the ordinary Mountain limestone of Derbyshire and shows no signs of Marmorisation. From this we can safely conclude that the Sill was not intrusive, but was poured out as a lava flow over the sea floor in Carboniferous Limestone times and lay in a heated and slowly cooling mass upon the rocks beneath it. It was not until the lava had thoroughly cooled down that the Mountain Limestone was deposited upon it. As lava is a bad conductor of heat its lower layers would in all probability remain in a red hot condition for a very considerable period. The underlying rocks would be subjected to intense heat, which could only escape downwards slowly through their substance. Limestone under these conditions would be converted into marble, while the marmorisation would slowly diminish downwards as the distance from the plane of baking increased. Thus we find the dark Hopton-Wood Stone nearest the Sill and the light Hopton-Wood stone furthest from the Sill.

    We are afraid we may perhaps have appeared somewhat lengthy in the above remarks, but it is important if we would understand the conditions under which Hopton-Wood stone from below the Toadstone has been produced.


    These consist of a series of faces at various levels down the Western side of the hill overlooking the picturesque Via Gellia. They are served by an inclined railway, of standard gauge worked by a steam haulage engine of colliery type. They produce a variety of products from hard blue mountain limestone only suitable for road and concrete work to creamy white Hopton-Wood which lends itself equally to rich architectural treatment or to utilitarian purposes such as setts, kerbs and the "white line" . The Hopton-Wood measures not only produce blocks of a durable and decorative building material, but furnish a crystalline limestone of exceptional chemical purity. It analyses 99.29% Carbonate of Lime with only 0.25% of Silica and less than 0.05% of iron oxide. It is much in demand where a high degree of purity is essential for manufacturing or chemical processes. The mountain limestone overlying the Sill of Toadstone is dark In colour, and of a texture and toughness eminently suitable for roadstone or concrete aggregate. Its removal is necessary in order to uncover the beds of Hopton-Wood stone which lie beneath. To utilise it to the best advantage a modern roadstone and tarmacadam Plant have recently been installed and all sizes of roadstone and chippings either dry or tarred can now be supplied at competitive prices. A short description of these plants may be of interest to some of our readers.

    The mountain limestone is quarried on the top level and thrown down an inclined chute to the primary crusher at the lower quarry level. The stone is broken in this crusher to about the size of a fist and is then conveyed by a new type of shaker conveyor a distance of some 200 feet to the Secondary crusher, elevator, screen and storage bins. Any size of graded stone in the bins can be drawn off on to a belt conveyor and fed to the crushing rolls for reduction to chippings. The capacity of the plant is 500 tons per week. It is all electrically driven from power applied by the Derbys. & Notts. Electric Power Co.

    The tarring plant is mounted on reinforced concrete columns and lies alongside the roadstone bins so that any particular size or a run of mixed sizes can be fed to the elevator, dryer and mixer. It is a thoroughly modern plant and is capable of turning out 10 tons of tarmacadam per hour. Both plants are so situated than they can load direct either into main-line wagons or lorries.

    In addition to the above there is a large plant for grinding the Hopton-Wood stone to various degrees of fineness for the use of certain industries which require a ground limestone of high quality and purity. This plant has many special features, the description of which would involve too many technicalities but briefly the lump stone after careful selection is fed to a primary crusher whence it travels to a granulator and a combination of screens and separators which grade it from almost impalpable blown bust to pieces the size of small marbles. Some of these sizes are used as "granitos" for the manufacture of artificial stone - generally in imitation of the real Hopton-Wood Stone. This plant is driven by two semi-diesel oil engines of 75 B.H.P. each, and has now been running very successfully for nearly 4 years. Its output is in the neighbourhood of 300 tons per week, but can be speeded up to 500.

    The Hopton Quarries have a total length of face of about 500 yards, the height varying from 200 feet to 60 feet. In two of them sinking operations by steam travelling and derrick cranes are being carried out in order to work the beds an additional 20 to 30 feet below the quarry floor. These lower beds yield first class sett and kerb stone and some of the finest light Hopton-Wood Stone in blocks of moderate size.

    Middleton Mine

    This account of Middleton Mine was written in 1993.

    Middleton Mine is located 4 miles south-west of the small town of Matlock. The mine works the Hopton-Wood Limestone which occurs underneath Middleton Moor. Middleton Moor is on the southern margin of an area of the Peak District known as the The White Peak, a block of carboniferous limestone stretching 50 kilometres north to south and 20 kilometres west to east.


    It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when Hopton-wood limestone was first extracted on the site now occupied by Middleton Mine. Certainly by the 1900's there was a well established dimension stone operation at the site. It was a surface operation and was cut where the Hopton-wood outcrops on the eastern flank of Middleton Moor in the middle of the village of Middleton-by-Wirksworth.

    Dimension stone operations continued until the 1950's when due to the rapid development of concrete technology the demand for natural stone products fell. Derbyshire Stone, the then operators and owners of the site, had pre-empted this fall in demand by developing a small processing plant to crush the limestone to supply the steel and sugar industry.

    Towards the end of the decade the situation with the surface operations reached a point where it became increasingly uneconomic to keep stripping the overburden (which was increasing in depth as a quarry cut into the moor) to gain access to the high purity Hopton-wood beds. The Company was reluctant to lose the customer base it had built up with the processed products, so the decision to commence underground operations was taken.

    The company at that time were operating a lead mine in Matlock and moved two of the personnel to Middleton. Work on a drift access was started on February the 4th 1959 and to date approximately 16 million tonnes of high grade limestone have been extracted for the underground workings.

    At present Middleton Mine consists of 35 kilometres of workings covering an area of 1400 metres west to east and 800 m north to south. Middleton Mine is divided into five main production areas by normal faults.

    In 1968 Derbyshire Stone was absorbed into the Tarmac Group who ultimately put the mine up for sale towards the end of 1990 along with two other units located in Derbyshire which formed it's Industrial Product Division. The three Units were purchased by Croxton and Garry Limited who were owned equally by Pluess-Staufer and Blue Circle at the time of the purchase. Pluess-Staufer are now the sole owners of Omya Croxton and Garry.

    Mining method

    The current method of working is room and pillar, with rooms 13 m wide and pillars 17 m square. The extraction height is 8 m. This is an increase from the original pattern of 11 m wide roadways and 14 m square pillars.

    The production cycle

    The production cycle has five stages:

    Scaling - when the loose rock is barred down from the face, roof and walls. This can either be done mechanically or by hand,

    Drilling - the face is then drilled using a twin boom jumbo rig to a depth of 4.8 m. Sixty six holes are drilled per face in a wedge pattern.

    Blasting - after drilling the face is charged using ammonium nitrate and fuel oil as the bulk explosive. Two or three headings a day are charged depending on production requirements and these are fired at the end of the working shift. Each blast produces approximately 950 tonnes and advances the face 4 to 4.5 m.

    Loading - the blasted material is loaded by a Komatsu face shovel into 30 tonne dump trucks. These haul the blasted rock to an underground processing plant where the material is crushed and screened.

    Crushing and Screening - the underground plant produced a feed for the Middleton Surface Plant, Hopton Plant and a Screened Aglime. The Surface Plant has tertiary crushing, screening and drying processes.


    The distribution of the manpower is

    Management 2
    Underground 16
    Surface Plant 7
    Loading for sale 4
    Maintenance 6
    Apprentice 1
    Clerical 3 [inc 2 part time]
    Cleaning Staff 1 [part time]
    Total  40
    End use

    Middleton Mine produces a range of products varying in size from 125 mm to 150 microns. These products are used to supply industries as diverse as glass making, sugar refining, mastic asphalt, vinyl floor coverings, bathroom ware, fertilisers and animal feed products. The largest single customer is the sister plant at Hopton where it is ground in various grades from 250 micron to 12 micron. The limestone is usually employed as a filler or extender in rubber, plastics, ceramics, adhesives and other industrial manufacturing process.

    Stone Trades Journal.

    Article published 1933


    0ne hundred and fifty years ago there was a small spinney called Hopton Wood. It was situated 800 feet above sea-level, south-west of Matlock, and on the heights above Wirksworth, an ancient market town, once an important centre for lead mining.

    The particular species of Derbyshire stone quarried here has long been worked out. But to-day, in the neighbourhood its name has been adopted as the trade-mark of the HoptonWood Stone Firms, Ltd, an amalgamation which came into being in 1905, and who are the sole producers of this well-known oolitic limestone, which has the characteristics of, and is practically akin to, marble.

    Middleton Quarry is the chief working, whose face towers upward for 150 feet or so. There is a heavy overburden of loose soil and stone to the claybed from ten to twenty feet thick, which adds considerably to the cost of reaching the stone measures beneath. Mr. A. Player Cotterell pointed out that it is the presence of clay which gives Hopton-Wood the semblance of marble, the volcanic heat of a dim age being retained by it, and thus bringing about this metamorphosis in the stone. In colour, it varies from the dark greyish shades near the surface to lighter creamy tints as depth increases, though the fossil composition varies but little.

    With wedges and jacks the stone is prised from its bed in immense blocks, which have to be split for ready removal. The formation makes it necessary to work from south to north across the face of the quarry, and is a labour helped by the natural vertical fissures and the thin clay bedding between the strata. Sometimes blasting is resorted to with slow-action powder, but this is very seldom. For in this case it is vitally important for the charges to be fired simultaneousy by electricity if the block is to break away satisfactorily and have a commercial value, though actually, whatever method is adopted, only about one-fifth of the quarried face is marketable, for quality, not quantity, is a factor to be reckoned with.

    From across the quarry men looked almost like flies working high up on the vertical face. The stone they dislodge with crowbar and wedge is dropped on to a bed of rubble prepared below, where it can be picked up by a 20 or 10 ton steam crane and manoeuvred for rough dressing by hand and by cornpressed air drill.

    In the rough, the beauty of Hopton-Wood is not apparent, since its real attraction for architectural and monumental purposes lies in the figuring, which is emphasised by rubbing, and more particularly by Polishing. What can be achieved in this respect is well illustrated in the dressing sheds, where a 20 ton electric crane takes charge and transports the stone to the workshops. Before time and labour are expended, however, every block is first of all pared by a wire saw, to see if it is worth working up.

    What industry this entails can be gleaned by a glimpse into a large shed. It contains, amongst other things, a range of five electrically-driven frame saws, which slice the stone into slabs for wall linings or paving, or thicker blocks for door posts, lintels, Etc.

    The process of cutting is achieved by a continual feed to the saws of sand and water automatically mixed by a system adopted by the Belgians. The mud is decanted off, whilst the water is picked up again for circulation by a thirty-foot water wheel. A pump for this work would not be economical, owing to the presence of grit and sand. On some of the saws the grinding mixture is fed by hand and actually makes quicker working, it being possible to direct the flow more accurately, and results in a cut of two inches per hour being made, as against the three-quarters-inch made by the Belgian method.

    Another corner of this shed is occupied by a rubbin-bed for giving a preliminary surface to the stone. It takes the form of a 13 foot power-driven wheel, rotating horizontally, and made of cast-iron plates, the friction powder being sand and water. The final polish is supplied by a revolving burnisher of felt, with the aid of putty powder. It is used in the handwork shed, where intricate mouldings and carved work could not be rubbed up by machinery. It also comes into play on the assembly bench, where the various members of some feature are pieced together to see that jointing is true and no surface is proud.

    A tragic reminder of the part the firm were called upon to play as an outcome of the War stands in another corner of the workshop. It is a machine for engraving the headstones for the British War Cemeteries. Working on the pantagraph system, a disabled ex-service man could trace over a regimental badge or inscription on a die, whilst a similar tool reproduced his movements simultaneously on the actual stone. Thus, with these ingenious machines, it was possible for over 300 headstones per week to be completed. Not long ago, when H.R.H. the Prince of Wales was staying at Chatsworth House, he visited the Hopton-Wood Stone Firms, Ltd., and was naturally particularly interested in this work. Over 100,000 gravestones have been despatched to mark the burial grounds of our soldiers who fell. Many of them have been erected in the Far East, and the contract took six years to complete.

    Another fine example of the use of Hopton-Wood stone in this respect can be seen in the War Memorial Cloisters at Winchester College, with a carven cross in the centre, designed by Sir Herbert Baker, R.A. A large quantity was also used for decorative paving at the Imperial Institute, London. It figures, too, in the Sheffield City Hall, whilst the Leeds Civic Building and Manchester Reference Library, both designed by Mr. Vincent Harris, F.R.I.B.A., consume a further amount. Many newly-completed buildings in London provide instances of the great variety of uses for which this stone is fitted. The staircase, wall linings, architraves, etc., of the new wing of the County Hall at Westminster; the main staircase at South-Africa House; the skirtings, handrail cappings, and sills at Shell-Mex House; whilst the Masonic Peace Temple and the new Cumberland Hotel at the Marble Arch are other large contracts in hand.

    A hundred men are, therefore, employed turning out 40,000 cubic feet per annum to keep pace with the demand. For in addition there is a steady call for its use in random walling, paving setts and kerbs, and in rubble for many purposes where a very high degree of purity is required.

KILLER family

Follow the quarrying KILLERs through Census links:

1851:William & Mary
1861:William & Mary
1871:Joseph & Sarah, William & Mary
1881:Joseph & Sarah, John & Edith,     William & Sarah, Adam & Ann
1891:Joseph & Sarah, John & Elizabeth, William & Sarah, Adam & Ann
1901:Joseph & Sarah, John & Elizabeth

                                          1814                 1815
                                          William              Mary
                                          KILLER====1837======= ?
                                          1888       |
    |             |                       |       |          |       |                       |         |
   1838          1839                    1842    1844       1848    1850                    1852      1856
   Ann           John                    Joseph  Mary       Elizab  William                 Adam      Ruth
   1859 mrd       |                       |      1864 mrd   1855     |                       |        1880 mrd
   Timothy FOX    |                       |      William             |                       |        John W HOLMES
                  |                       |      BIRKIN              |                       |
                  |                       |                          |
 1844            1839                    1842            1835       1850                    1852
 Edith           John         Elizabeth  Joseph          Sarah      William         Sarah   Adam              Anne
 OLIVER===1872===KILLER===1888===KIRK    KILLER===1863===HARRISON   KILLER===1876===WARD    KILLER===1879===SPENCER
 1887      |                                       |                          |                       |
           |                                       |                          |                       |
 |-------|-|---|      |----------|-------|-------|-|---|-----|------|         |                       |
 |       |     |      |          |       |       |     |     |      |         |                       |
1873    1875  1877   1864       1866    1869    1871  1873  1875   1880       |                       |
William John  Frank  Elizabeth  Louisa  Joseph  Mary  John  Sarah  Bertha     |                       |
                                                                              |                       |
                                               |------------------------------|                       |
                                               |                                                      |
 |--------|------|-----|------|----|-------|---|--|        |------|------|----|-------|----|------|---|--|-----|
 |        |      |     |      |    |       |      |        |      |      |    |       |    |      |      |     |
1878     1879   1881  1883   1885 1887    1888   1889     1880   1881   1883 1884    1885 1886   1888   1890  1892
Florence Walter Ellen Joseph Fred Mariana Ernest Stanley  George Harold Adam Francis Mary Elizab Arthur Ethel William

Location of War Graves using Hopton Stone

From:  steve morse (morse#athomewithyourpc.net)
Subject:  Hopton Wood Stone 
Date:  Wed, 23 Nov 2005 11:42:11 -0000 

Hello John
I have been doing a bit of research on the various stones used. 
Hopton Wood Stone was used at Lijssenthoek Mil Cemetery near 
Poperinghe for the headstones. Also the Helles Memorial on 
Gallipoli is Hopton Wood Stone.  It is therefore possible that 
the headstones in the various Gallipoli cemeteries are also 
Hopton Stone. Many Derbyshire men are commemorated on the 
Helles Memorial and some lie in the cemeteries in the area.
A number of  Derbyshire men are also buried at Lijssenthoek.
The CWGC site has a photo of the Helles memorial and my 
website has Lijssenthoek.  As far as I know the helles 
memorial is the original one.  Some if not all of the 
headstones may be as well. They are usually re-etched and 
only changed when they break. Most of the stones were laid 
in the 1920s but some as late as 1939. Lijssenthoek (better 
known as Remi Sidings before the CWGC changed the name) has 
some 9,000 graves. If the firm did 100,000, then it would be 
1/7th of the total. They probably had the contract for some 
of the Cross of Sacrifice and Stone of Remembrance as well.
The CWGC may be able to furnish you with full details from 
their records.
Hope that helps
Great War Ypres Salient - 

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