Updated 02 Oct 2013

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Brickmakers of Wirksworth

Steeple Grange Brickworks

This webpage is an attempt to unearth some of the History of "Steeple Grange Brickworks" to the NE of Wirksworth. The old works was disused by 1920, the land changed hands several times, and then houses were built. Perhaps all that is left is a pond and a roadname "Brickfields Close".

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Tradesmen | Marriages | Research | Emails |


(Permission of Martyn Fretwell)
(Permission of Martyn Fretwell)


Blackrock Brick & Tile Works [later: "Steeple Grange Brick Works (disused)"] at Steeple Grange 1 mile NE of Wirksworth. Now called Brickfields Close off Oakerthorpe Road. OS ref 293-556. The Railway is the (now disused) Cromford & High Peak. Notice: Brickfield, wharf, kiln, chimney, shed, rail spur, pond The 50-yard siding connecting to the 'wharf' was called 'Black Rocks siding' The kiln diameter was about 22 feet. 'Wharf' comes from the Dutch word "werf" which means "yard", an outdoor place where work is done, like a shipyard or a lumberyard (which is nowhere near any body of water). The wharf was Arkwright's Cromford Moor Siding and was also a coal wharf, but for the community rather than loco coal.
Blackrock Brick & Tile Works
Blackrock Brick & Tile Works
Steeple Grange Brick Works
Steeple Grange Brick Works (Disused)
Steeple Grange Brick Works (Disused)
Steeple Grange


Posted 1908, entitled "Steeple Grange, Wirksworth"
Kiln chimney through trees (enlargement)
A "bottle kiln"
Brickworks Area 2013 - built on.

Brickmakers in the Census

1841 Census for Wirksworth Area
01. William OAKLEY 25 Brickmaker Idridghay
02. Joshua? DONCASTER 40 Brickmakers Idridghay
02. George DONCASTER 14 Brickmaker Idridghay
03. William WHEATCROFT 30 Brickmaker Kirk Ireton
04. Joseph KNIVETON 25 Brickmaker Chinahouse yard, Wirksworth
05. James BARKER 30 Brick maker Bolehill
06. Rueben FLINT 9 Brick maker Bolehill
07. Thomas HODGKINSON 40 Brick maker Bolehill

1851 Census for Wirksworth Area
08. Edward JOHNSON Lodger U 25 Brickmaker Hulland Ward
09. John HARRISON Head M 32 Brickmaker lab Ideridgehay
10. William PEARSON Son U 22 Brick maker Green Hill, Wirksworth
11. Samuel HODGKINSON Father W 69 Brick maker Wirksworth

1861 Census for Wirksworth Area
12. Henry MARSON Head M 38 Brickmaker Hulland Ward
13. John Thomas TURNER Son U 20 Brickmaker Hulland Ward
13. William TAYLOR Servant U 17 Brickmaker Hulland Ward
14. William OAKLEY Head U 46 Brickmaker,farmer Idridgehay
14. William OAKLEY Lodger U 20 Brickmaker Idridgehay
15. James HURST Head M 28 Brickmaker The Green, Idridgehay
16. Matthew STEVENSON Head M 29 Brick maker Matlock Bank
17. William HODGKINSON Head M 50 Brick maker Chapel Lane, Wirksworth
18. Joseph KNIVETON Head M 48 Maltster,brick maker China House Yard, Wirksworth
19. William HARRIS Head M 34 Brick maker Bolehill
20. Thomas OGDEN Head M 32 Brick maker Bolehill
21. Edward MARSON Head M 31 Brickmaker Bolehill
22. Thomas MILLWARD Stepson U 24 Brickmaker Steeple Grange, Wirksworth

1871 Census for Wirksworth Area
23. John Thomas TURNER Head M 30 Pot,brick maker Crossways & Magfield, Hulland Ward
24. Henry MARSON Head M 49 Brickmaker Brick Yard, Hulland Ward
25. William OAKLEY Head U 55 Brickmaker,landowner Brickyard, Idridgehay
25. William OAKLEY Cousin U 22 Journeyman brickmaker Brickyard, Idridgehay
26. John HARRISON Head M 53 Brick maker The Crofts, Kirk Ireton
27. Sarah KNOWLES Head W 60 Firebrick,pipe maker Knowlestone Place, Matlock Emp 109 men 47 boys
28. Thomas ALLCOCK Head M 51 Brickmaker Bolehill
28. Tom ALLCOCK Son U 20 Brickmaker Bolehill
28. Robert ALLCOCK Son 15 Brickmaker Bolehill

1881 Census for Wirksworth Area
29. James BROCKLEHURST Son U 16 Brickmakers lab Mere Brook, Alderwasley
30. Tom John WHITE Son U 15 Brickmakers lab Mere Brook Gate, Alderwasley
31. John BERRESFORD Head M 33 Brickmakers lab Well Lane, Alderwasley
32. John WAINWRIGHT Head M 47 Brick, tile maker and burner Back Lane, Alderwasley
32. William WAINWRIGHT Son U 19 Brick, tile maker Back Lane, Alderwasley
32. Joseph WAINWRIGHT Son U 17 Brick, tile maker Back Lane, Alderwasley
33. John T. TURNER Son M 40 Brick Maker Lodger Cross Roads, Hulland Ward
34. William OAKLEY Head W 63 Brickmaker Senior The Green, Brickyard, Idridgehay
35. William WILKINSON Head M 50 Brick maker Matlock Bank
36. George REEVES Head M 45 Lab Brickmakers The Knowll, Tansley
37. Henry FLINT Head M 32 Brickmaker Bolehill
38. James ALLSOP Head M 34 Foreman brickmaker Holmesford, Wirksworth
39. Abram ONER Lodger W 65 Brickmaker Weekly lodger Long Way Bank, Wirksworth

1891 Census for Wirksworth Area
40. Joseph DAKIN Son S 16 Brickmaker Town Street, Brassington
41. Aaron GOULD Head W 34 Brickmaker Town Street, Brassington
41. Joseph GOULD Son 12 M Brickmaker labourer Town Street, Brassington
42. John Thos WALKER Son S 21 Brickmaker Maddock Lake, Brassington
43. Thomas WHITEHOUSE Son S 24 Brickmaker Mag Fields, Hulland Ward
44. William OAKLEY Head S 76 Retired brickmaker Cliff Hill, Idridgehay
45. William WILKINSON Head M 62 Brick maker Chesterfield Road, Matlock
46. Sidney HIGTON Head M 31 Brick maker Longway Bank, Wirksworth
47. William CHEETHAM Son S 19 Brick maker Longway Bank, Wirksworth

1901 Census for Wirksworth Area
48. Henry LUND Boarder S 17 Brickmaker Longcliff, Brassington
49. Henry FEARN Son S 18 Brick maker Moor Side, Cromford
50. Thomas PARKER Head M 61 Brick maker Magg Fields, Hulland Ward
50. Arthur PARKER Son S 20 Brickmakers lab Magg Fields, Hulland Ward
51. Vincent GREATOREX Son S 22 Brick maker The Moor, Wirksworth
51. Albert GREATOREX Son S 16 Maker sanitary bricks The Moor, Wirksworth

Brickmakers in Tradesmen

Hodgkinson Thomas,Wirksworth moor
1835 HODGKINSON Thomas (Wirksworth moor) Brick maker
1846 HARDY George, (Cliff Ash) Brickmaker and farmer
1846 HUNT William (Wirks.Bole hill) Brickmaker
1846 OAKLEY William, (Ideridghay) Brickmaker and shoemaker
1846 WHEATCROFT Nathaniel (Cromford) Junr. timber, slate,
brick, corn, and salt merchant
1857 BUCKLEY William [Middleton] Brick, tile, and drain pipe maker,
registrar of births and deaths for Brassington district,
and agent to the English Widows Fund,
and the General Life Insurance Co.
1857 HARDY George [Cliff-Ash, Idridgehay] Brickmaker
1857 MARSDON Henry [Market pl, Wirksworth] Brick+Tile Maker
1857 OAKLEY William [Idridgehay] Brickmaker (& drain pipe maker)
1895 WHITE & Co Ltd | brick manufacturers &c | Longcliffe
1895 WHEATCROFT | Nathaniel & Son
| coal, corn, coke, timber, slate,
and Newcastle tiles, meals, cakes, salt, brick, and straw merchants
| offices: Canal wharf, and at all stations from Matlock to Buxton,
and High Peak and Wirksworth lines
1895 BRICK Works | Emmanuel WHITEHOUSE | proprietor | Cubley
1895 PARKER | Thomas | brickmaker
1895 WALKER & Sons | joiners, builders and contractors |
Steeple Grange and North End | and Brick works | Steeple Grange
1895 WIGWELL Brick and Tile Co Ltd | William CONWAY manager
1895 Brick and Tile Manufacturers
The STEEPLE GRANGE Brickworks | Joseph WALKER & Sons | proprietors
The WIGWELL Brick and Tile Co Ltd | Whatstandwell road
| registered office: 3 Crosshall street, Liverpool | William Conway SHAW, manager

Brickmakers in Marriage


Entries from Wirksworth Parish Registers
M 1882dec25 WAINWRIGHT John wm fairf(Alderwasley),Brickmaker/JACKSON Lydia gratton(Wirksworth),#490
            Fathers: John WAINWRIGHT,Brick burner/Richard JACKSON,Shoemaker
            Witnesses: Richard AUSTIN,Sarah elizb JACKSON
            Status: b,f/s,m
M 1893jul06 HALLOWS Samuel(Wirksworth),Brick maker/TAYLOR Lily(Wirksworth),-,#201
            Fathers: James HALLOWS,Labourer/George TAYLOR,Tape weaver
            Witnesses: Leslie TAYLOR,Herbert TAYLOR
            Status: B,23/S,20
M 1852apr04 PEARSON William(Wirksworth),Brickmaker/SMITH Ann(Wirksworth),#167
            Fathers: John PEARSON,Labourer/James SMITH,Miner
            Witnesses: Anthony TAYLOR,Hannah RANSON?
            Status: b,f/s,m
M 1849feb28 BOWDEN Charles(Cromford),Brickmaker/FLINT Ruth(Cromford),#53
            Fathers: Thomas BOWDEN,Hatter/Walter FLINT,Cordwainer
            Witnesses: Francis FLINT,Elizabeth BRITLAND
            Status: b,f/s,u
M 1769oct26 TUCKEY William(Wirksworth),Brick maker/ALLIN Mary
            Witnesses: Robert ALLIN,Thomas ALLIN    Comment: Brick maker
M 1850dec23 OGDEN Thomas(Bolehill),Brickmaker/BROOKS Martha(Bolehill),#117
            Fathers: Francis OGDEN,Butcher/Thomas BROOKS,Farmer
            Witnesses: Charles BROOKS,Mary WRIGHT
            Status: b,f/s,f
M 1853may18 MARSON Edward(Bolehill),Brickmaker/WOODHOUSE Hannah(Wirksworth),#221
            Fathers: Joseph MARSON,Stockinger/William WOODHOUSE,Velvetweaver
            Witnesses: Enoch MARSON,Maria FLINT
            Status: b,f/s,m
M 1878feb07 FLINT Thomas james(Wirksworth),Brickmaker/BUXTON Alice(Bonsall),#395
            Fathers: Edward FLINT,Miner/William BUXTON,Fwk
            Witnesses: James GREEHOUGH,Elizabeth ann FLINT
            Status: b,f/s,f
M 1877feb19 WILTON William(Swadlincote),Brickmaker/FEARN Mary ann(Callow),#380
            Fathers: Francis WILTON,Labourer/George FEARN,Gamekeeper
            Witnesses: Charles FERN,Emma FERN
            Status: b,f/s,f
M 1885apr22 HIGTON William(Alderwasley),Brickmaker/FROST Emma(Alderwasley),-,#45
            Fathers: Phineas HIGTON,Gardener/Thomas FROST,Miner
            Witnesses: James BROCKLEHURST,Julia HIGTON
            Status: B,20/S,20

Research by Kate Henderson

Kate Henderson did some research into the Steeple Grange brickworks for me at the Derbyshire Records Office at Matlock (I live in Dorset).

"On Monday at the DRO I began by checking subject/places card indexes in the Local Studies Library under relevant headings (see notes Sheet 1). I checked all of these possible sources - books and articles, but none came up with a reference specifically for Black Rocks/Steeple Grange Brick (Tile) manufacture.

"I then worked through the Directories at the shelves - starting in 1887 - then back and forward in time trying to find surnames/ listings connected to Steeple Grange/Black Rocks. I know you have already extracted "Brick" references on your site, but I wanted to track names which cropped up forwards and backwards to try and produce a chronology of ownership if I could. (see notes sheets 2-4).

"From these entries I think there were 2 seperate brick works - one in "Bolehill" which may have become the "Wigwell Brick and Tile Co.Ltd on Whatstandwell Rd" as in Bulmers directory of 1895. WILLIAM HUNT is listed as a private resident but a Brick maker in 1846 - then brickmaker of Bolehill in 1850, 1852, 1862 and 1864.
See Census 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871 and 1881 (William Hunt) also M.I.
Back in 1834 THOMAS HODGKINSON is a Brickmaker of "Wirksworth Moor"
See Census 1841, 1851 and 1861 (Thomas Hodgkinson)
"The first mention in the Directories I looked at of a Brick and Tile Maker on Steeple Grange - is WILLIAM BUCKLEY in 1857 then he again on Steeple Grange in 1860, 1862. By 1870 Mrs BUCKLEY is the brick maker on Steeple Grange, suggesting William has died but it is still being worked by the family.
See Census 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 (William Buckley)
Also in 1870 WILLIAM SHAW is listed as a farmer and maltster - but by 1876 William Shaw is listed as maltster, farmer and brickmaker - so it looks like a neighbour has bought the brickmaking business from Mrs Buckley between 1870 and 1876. I have not checked to see if any of your directory entries fill in these 'gap' years so that you can be more specific about when the business changed hands.

"Then William Shaw is maltster, farmer and brickmaker at Steeple Grange in 1876, 1881 and 1887 - but in that last year he is not a maltster - but listed as a farmer, Brick Maker and now Stone Merchant of Steeple Grange.
See Census 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871 and 1881 (William Shaw) also M.I.
"By 1895 the Steeple Grange Brick Works is owned by JOSEPH WALKER and SONS - joiners, builder and contractors and owners of the Brick Works at Steeple Grange. They continue to be owners at least up to 1899/1900. This is where my interest comes in as Joseph Walker and his son built my house! It is not of brick but of stone and is particularly well constructed and corner stones very well-dressed as his son Joseph built it for his own use!
See Census 1851, 1861, 1871 1881, 1891 and 1901 (Joseph Walker) also M.I.
"I noted from the maps on your reference where the Brickworks were situated and as you say it is now a "modern" cul-de-sac. I then went into the DRO and checked their card indexes for references to Bricks, Tile Works - Black Rocks/Steeple Grange but there were no sources to any specific business records. There is a draft Will for Wm Shaw of Steeple Grange in 1851 (D161 B/7/141) which I can look at later if you wish - or see if his final Will is here - but he may be father of the Wm Shaw who becomes the brickmaker c1876. There were no estate or business records listed for Black Rocks/Steeple Grange for the surnames Buckley, Hodgkinson or Shaw. I could check for Shaw and Walker and Buckley wills if you would like me to and see if we can be more precise about who owned the works and when they were passed on. Let me know if you want me to check these.

"I then looked at the OS 2nd edition maps for the area around the 'top' of my road where the CHPR crosses the road (Sheet xxxiv 10 and 14) for 1899 (surveyed in the previous years). The DRP printer was playing up so these came out either 'partial' or dark - but at least you can see what I am talking about! By then it is called "Steeple Grange Brick Works" and there is clearly a railway line spur off to the "wharf" next to where the old brick works and the 'SG' works are. I thought wharves were only near water but if from the Old English it can just mean a 'bank' or from the Dutch - a yard or outdoor place where work is done. It seems to usually suggest a 'loading' area - so I can only assume that this is where the bricks were loaded on to wagons to be linked to the engines as they went along the short level stretch of land between the two long inclines - down to Cromford Canal Wharf or up to Middleton Top. On the 1922 map you have there is a coal depot in that area - suggesting a refueling of the engines at the same spot between the inclines. A pool could provide water for steam engines, too. Other links to quarries in Wirksworth and Middleton 'mineral railway' join just a few yards further on. (See Sheets 5 and 6)
Steeple Grange Area
"You also asked about "Steeple House".
I checked the DRO card index and found 2 references to Sales Catalogues with maps/plans. I ordered these up (D216B/ES 1/2 no 38 and no 47). The maps were too large to copy so I quickly drew a sketch map - see Sheet 7. I also went back and took a print of the same area from the OS map so that you can locate the site of 'Steeple Grange House'

(/////) - area of the "Steeple Grange" property in 1880/81 - it covered a large area up from what is now called "New Road" to Nan Gells Hill and butting on to the Oakerthorpe Rd and also land on the opposite side of the road - then labelled as "Gardens". Note that the land on the other side of this "Gardens" area is owned in 1880/81 by Mr JOHN SHAW - and this area covers the quarry site which now houses the National Stone Centre. So the stone/quarry owning Shaws were big land owners and a rich stone quarrying family. North of house, gardens, tennis and croquet lawns, ornamented gardens and stackyard and kitchen gardens lie the "open land" - very, steep/undulating area now (plot 324) the playing field behind my house.

"This was sold in 1880/81 to Henry Wheatcroft (Wheatcrofts became and still are local estate agents!!) who divided it all up into 5 lots and resold in 1882 - (Lots1-5) - outlined in my sketch map. He probably made a great deal of profit on this! The gardens over the road were sold as building plots. I've just walked around this area and the original "Steeple Grange" later "Steeple Grange House" is now called "Bradley House". The "outbuilding" with the "billiard Room" over it, linked to the house by a covered stairway - is now a very nice house called the "Old Coach House" - still lived in by the child of the people living in Bradley House - so still connecting the two properties.

The maps show the area after the house has been split from the land so the carriage drive no longer links to New Road. And there are some buildings on the 'Gardens' area over the road. On my sketch map the land to the north of the 'fields' is owned by Mr Joseph Walker (the Walker family still live there!) - so again it is a neighbour who seems to have bought the Brick 'factory'. I assume the Walkers bought at least Lot 2 as my house is over the 'wall' from Joseph Walker's land and next to the road (above Mr George Hadfield's house on the map). The orchard, lands and gardens of Steeple Grange House (Bradley House) have all been built on now.


----Anyone with more details for publication on this webpage, please email ----
Robin Jeffcoat wrote on 01oct2013

Hi John
Just had a quick look at the impressive site and the research done by Kate. Here are a few quick thoughts;

1) My 1st edition 1:2500 copy looks slightly different to yours, as immediately below the "B" for Blackrock Brick & Tile Works is a very small rectangle and my edition it states Chimney by it. It appears not to be there by the time of the 1899 edition. If it has disappeared by then, the chimney in your picture is not at the brickworks or the postcard posted in 1908 was of an earlier period. I'm no expert on Victorian, Edwardian dress, perhaps there is another clue there.

2) The 1st edition 34/16 shows a brickworks at Merebrook to the south of the road where I mentioned that I had seen the old brick kiln. It is a circular structure with a circular pond slightly nearer to the road by the sharp bend between Whatstandwell and Longway Bank. Further to the south is Alderwasley Brick Works which looks a bigger affair with possibly three round kilns. The brick kiln that I had seen must have survived until after 1978 when I moved up to Derbyshire, possibly at least the early 80s.

3) The brickworks down by Merebrooksough Mine on the NE side of Wirksworth Incline is shown and named "Brick Works" on 34/14 1:2500 1899, but not named on the 1st edition although something appears to be there. Ranging below it is Grey Mare vein.

4) Sam Buckley was a driver locally on the C&HPR, see the DCC publication "Trains & Trails" which I assisted with the research and information.

5) The wharf by the brick works at Steeple Grange was Arkwright's Cromford Moor Sdg and as Kate correctly states was also a coal wharf, but for the community rather than loco coal. The brickworks may well have been on Arkright land anyway as Cromford Moor was Arkright's.

Just a few thoughts, hope it is of some use, just realised it is almost 12:30pm, time for bed!

Best Wishes

Robin Jeffcoat
Martyn Fretwell wrote on 29aug2013

I collect, photograph & put on the web named bricks. (Penmorfa.Com) & when I was searching the web for Buckley & Co, Steeple House, your site came up, with the Steeple Grange postcards, photo 475. I also got a BBC Derby page with Stuart Flint writing about his family which included the name Buckley. He has contributed to your page also. I photographed the brick in Belper at a fellow collectors house, so the brick has not traveled very far. On your page Keith Repton has put that he believes the chimney in your photo belongs to a Brickworks OS map 1897. I have found out from Chesterfield Library that William Buckley of Steeple Grange, Wirksworth was brickmaker & is recorded in Drake's Trade Directory for 1862. Then a Mrs Buckley, brickmaker, Steeple Grange in White's Trade Directory for 1870. Steeple House must have been were they lived.

If you wish to put this info & my photos on your site, you are quiet welcomed to, as long as they are credited to me.

All the Best, Martyn Fretwell

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