Peak Dale is in the parish of Wormhill and lies on the north-western side of a dry valley called Great Rocks Dale. Until the middle of the 19th century this was an area of sparsely populated moorland, its history closely linked with that of the village of Wormhill to the south-east of the dale. During the 1800s, in response to the country's demand for limestone, quarries were developed along both Dove Holes Dale and Great Rocks Dale. As nearby hamlets increased in size to accommodate the workmen and their families who came to the area, Peak Dale emerged as a village in its own right.

The name Peak Dale has only been in use since 1893. Before that date the hamlets of Dove Holes Dale, Tunstead Great Rocks, Upper End and Bibbington, which dotted the land surrounding Great Rocks Dale, were together known as Peak Forest Hamlet. The name was changed to Peak Dale to avoid confusion with the village of Peak Forest which is two and a half miles away to the north. Of those scattered hamlets Dove Holes Dale for many years formed the focal point of Peak Dale and the quarrying industry, but it is Upper End which forms the nucleus of the village as we know it today.


Ancient burial mounds on high ground close to our village, at Withered Low, Wind Low and Bole Hill show that man has lived in the area since at least the Late Bronze Age (1000-500 B.C.), although during later centuries the focus of settlement altered. Wormhill was the major settlement site by the time of the Doomsday Survey of 1086 and together with the area of Peak Dale it became part of the Royal Forest of the Peak. This Forest occupied over 40 square miles of Northern Derbyshire and included areas of dense woodland and high moorland, with settlements on the northern part of the limestone plateau where agriculture and lead mining were carried out. The three divisions of the Royal Forest of the Peak were Longdendale, which covered all the Glossop district, Hopedale, which included Tideswell, and the Campana, which contained Wormhill, Fairfield and Chapel-en-le-Frith. Most of the Campana was enclosed by a low wall and dyke, and this division had the best pasture land. Within the Forest the King and members of his household could hunt the deer, wild boar and wolves that roamed the countryside.

Wormhill was surrounded by "open" or "town" fields with arable strips and many people from the village held land in them in return for work in the Forest. One man called John de Wolfhunt, who died in 1309, held his house and land by the service of setting traps to catch wolves in the Forest. In order to preserve the Forest for the King's enjoyment there were strict laws. The Swainmote Court, which dealt with the more trivial breaches of Forest law, sometimes met at Wormhill while the higher court, the Justice Seat, met twice yearly at Tideswell. Killing a deer was at one time a capital offence, but by the 13th century a fine was the usual penalty and poaching became rife. It was unlawful to cut timber for building and fencing purposes or to build houses without licence from the King, but these laws were frequently broken and, as the population increased, more of the Forest land was cleared, often illegally, for farming. The "foresters in fee", who had been appointed to preserve the King's rights, were some of the first to encroach upon the Forest boundaries and others followed their example. Generally small areas were taken in this way but sometimes 20 or 30 acres were cleared at a time.

Until the 13th century Wormhill was part of Hope, one of the largest parishes in England. Tideswell became a separate parish in 1245, while Wormhill had grown sufficiently by 1273 to have its own Chapel which was served by Tideswell clergy.

Tunstead, lying a mile from Wormhill above Great Rocks Dale, probably came into existence in the early decades of the 12th century. Its name means "farmstead". By the 13th century the chief family living in the hamlet was known by the name of Tunsted. This family seem to have kept within the Forest law as they bought land for pasture and built houses by licence of the bailiff. It is likely that the first farm at Great Rocks was built about 1252.

Over the three centuries that followed, the Forest game dwindled and Forest laws were relaxed. The vast majority of the wolves in the Forest are believed to have died in a great snow towards the end of the 15th century and by the 16th century there were few deer left in the area. At this time Upper End was known as Over End and was part of Green Fairfield, which was a great moor several miles across each way. The part of the moor known locally as the Nether (lower) End extended to Cowlow and the Over (upper) End extended to Dove Holes Dale. Upper End was described as hilly and mossy land where the tenants of Wormhill and Tunstead kept their horses, sheep and cattle and could get peats and turves for fuel.


The dry stone walls, which stretch for miles in every direction, are a striking feature of today's landscape. The enclosure of the open fields and commons from which these field patterns emerged was a long and complex process. It began in the 13th century with the unrecorded agreements made between farmers, and ended with the detailed Acts of Parliament in the 18th and 19th centuries.

By the 17th century much of the Forest of the Peak was in private ownership and sheep rearing had increased in the area to
meet the demand for wool from Britain's textile industry. This led to enclosure of many open fields. Until the early 19th century villagers had grazing rights, known as "sheep gates", on the commons which entitled them to graze a fixed number of animals. Great Rocks Dale and Wormhill Moor once formed part of the commons belonging to Wormhill; they were enclosed between about 1675 and 1822. The first move towards this came in 1635 when various landowners and commoners of the Peak petitioned the King asking for the Forest laws to be removed, the remaining deer to be destroyed, as they were damaging crops, and also to be allowed to enclose the land. Surveyors measured the commons, and maps were drafted. When this work was completed in 1640 the King ordered that all the deer be destroyed or removed. The Civil War (1642-51) interrupted the enclosure proceedings and it wasn't until about 1674 that they were completed. Wormhill Common was divided so that most of Great Rocks Dale went to the Crown, and Wormhill Moor to the Commoners. The King's share was granted by letters patent to Thomas Eyre. The decision to enclose the remaining common land was made in 1803 but the awards were not finished until 1822. Around this time sheep farming was declining and mixed farming taking over.

Enclosure meant that an enormous amount of dry stone-walling had to be done to 'fence' the boundaries of the land awarded. Apart from the stone cleared from the land or taken from nearby pit holes, it is thought the Forest walls and ancient burial mounds provided material for the new walls.


Over End and the surrounding towns and villages 1791

Reproduced from "P. P. Burden's Map of Derbyshire 1791' Derbyshire Archaeological Society 1975



The Enclosure Map of 1822, the Tithe Map of 1849 and the early Census Returns tell something about life in Upper End in the early 1800s.

Access to the land and farms at Over End was gained via Laneside Road, the main road in the village today. To the north it joined Batham Lane, now Batham Gate, which was once part of the Roman road from Buxton to Brough, near Bradwell. To the south, Laneside met the route of what was, in 1757, the first turnpike road to link Sheffield and Buxton via Margate and Monks Dale at Wormhill. Along that road, in 1790, the stage coach was running on alternate days from Buxton. Brocco Spring, (or Brocklehurst Spring), on a hillside to the right of the road to Wormhill was one place where fresh water could be obtained. Mrs. Yates, who is now in her 90s, recalls that in her childhood, when the supply ran dry at Spring Bank, she had to walk to "Brocklehurst" Spring at Bull End, about a mile away, for water. She carried it back in buckets attached to a yoke and says that the water had a beautiful taste. On its way across Over End, Laneside Road skirted a large mere known as Heathy Piece Pool. In the 19th century this clay lined pond was still an important watering place for cattle and sheep. It became the site of the War Memorial after the First World War.


This photograph shows the Peak Dale Church Sunday-school Procession as it passes the garden of the War Memorial along School Road. In the early 19th century\ the road was known as Laneside and the garden was Heathy Piece Pool. Meadow Farm can be seen in the background.

The Tithe Map of 1849 shows that there were five farms at Upper End, of which two still exist. One is Meadow Farm built about 1723 and the other Fernhouse Farm, which appears on a map dated 1766 though probably built much earlier. Thomas Warhurst occupied the land surrounding Meadow Farm in 1849, while Thomas Mason lived with his family at Fernhouse Farm and had the use of the adjacent fields. There was a farm at Lowfields, an area which was also known as Boar Slack, which was occupied by William Barker. Another farm was in today's Memorial Place, which in earlier times was referred to as "The Yard", It was the home of Jonathan Garlick and his family. William Hawley occupied land and buildings on a site opposite the Methodist Chapel in Upper End. These early homes, built in local limestone, would have lacked the comfort and warmth expected today. Mrs. Middleton says that in 1908 Fernhouse Farm was still without a proper floor and the stone flags on the roof let the moonlight shine through.

Information from the Census Returns of 1841 shows, that out of a population of 337 living in a total of 62 houses in the parish. 40 people lived in Upper End, members of just seven households. All the families in Upper End were headed by men who were either farmers or agricultural labourers. They would be involved mainly in sheep and cattle farming, although a few crops were grown such as turnips, oats and hay.

Boar Slack or Lowfield Houses.
The three cottages on the left may have formed part of the farm buildings shown on the Tithe Map of 1849 but most of the houses at Lowfields were built towards the end of the 19th century. Springmount Houses and Rock Houses can be seen in the background.

These farming families must have been fairly self-sufficient, but, if necessary, some of their needs could be met by tradesmen within the parish. Upper End had its own butcher, a man called Ralph Morten: a blacksmith, George Bunting, could be found at Wibersley near Dove Holes. Anyone requiring clothes or shoes might travel to Wormhill where 88 year old George Timms was the tailor and Peter Wright and Thomas Bradwell were both shoemakers. A joiner, Joseph Hall, lived in Wormhill, and here also could be found the one public house of the parish. Chee Tor Coffee House, run by Mathias Heapy who was a farmer as well as a publican. The pub had taken its name from the spectacular 200 feet high limestone crag in Chee Dale, close to Wormhill. In 1811 the proprietor of the public house had acted as a guide for visitors who wished to see Chee Tor, which was then a popular attraction.

If anyone from Upper End was to be wedded, buried or baptised, or wished to attend church services, a journey had to be undertaken, most likely to Wormhill, on foot, or horseback or by horse drawn vehicle.

Upper Upper End in about 1907. In the centre is the gable of the Cottage of Content and next to it in "The Yard" is a house often referred to as Miss Lees's Cottage. The Tithe Map shows that there were buildings on these two sites in 1849. Hartley House at the end of the row of houses on the left has been a shop for over 100 years. The shop sign on the right reads "A. W. Noton Grocer and Provision Dealer Licensed to sell Tobacco".


During the 19th century Wormhill remained chiefly an agricultural community, but the development of Upper End was increasingly influenced by the limestone quarrying industry in Dove Holes Dale. Heavy demands were being made by industries for supplies of carboniferous limestone. This rock was formed about 300,000,000 years ago from the shells of marine creatures which lived in the warm shallow sea that covered the Peak District. It can be quarried relatively easily in this area as Peak Dale lies on the north western corner of a mass of carboniferous limestone known as the Derbyshire Dome. This was exposed when the millstone grit and coal measures that once covered it were removed by the action of rain, wind and ice.

Small scale quarrying had taken place all over the Derbyshire Dome for centuries, the stone being either used for building, or turned into quicklime by the process of lime-burning. It is known that limestone and lime mortar were used by the Romans to build baths in Buxton. When the smelting of metals began to be practised limestone was used as a flux and for a long time lime has been used in agriculture to correct the acidity of the land. Many farmers had their own quarry and kiln, generally sited on common waste land, and made lime for their own use, perhaps selling the surplus to other users such as builders, tanner: and candle makers.

Farmers generally used the pye kiln which produced a large batch of lime in one burning. A pye kiln was constructed of rough limestone in a stone pit. The floor had a central, channel with three branches. To charge the kiln these channels were covered with dry branches and straw. Then alternate layers of fuel and broken limestone were placed on top to a height of around 14 feet. The whole of this was covered with six inches of turf and the kiln was lit by pushing burning straw into the channels. It was left to burn for five to ten days and a further two days were allowed for the lime to cool. Drawing (lime extraction) commenced by digging lime from the top of the kiln. Clues that lime burning took place are found in the remains of kilns, quarries and tips still to be seen all over the countryside and in the name "kiln close" which is a common field name.

Apart from the existence of massive deposits of limestone, one of the first reasons for quarrying to be developed as an industry in Dove Holes Dale was the availability of fuel. In the early days of lime-burning, timber, furze and peat were used, but at the beginning of the 17th century wood became scarce, so laws were passed to protect the forests. The result was that coal was used as a fuel and lime-burning tended to become concentrated where both coal and limestone were available. At Whaley Bridge, where limestone country meets millstone grit, coal pits were being worked. This local supply of coal attracted lime- burners to Dove Holes. In 1650 a General Survey of the Manor of High Peak found that there were 14 kilns on waste ground in the area of Dove Holes. Lime-burning gradually became a separate trade and the burning of lime by individuals declined particularly when the common land they used for the purpose was enclosed.

The scale of demand being placed on the limestone industry in the 1850s was the result of changes that had taken place throughout the country during the previous 100 years. The period 1750 to 1850, later known as the Industrial Revolution, had seen the transformation of British industrial and social life. At the beginning of the period most people worked on the land and industrial production was on a small scale. At the end of the period fewer opportunities to work in agriculture and the labour requirements of growing industries meant that more people were living and working in the new industrial towns. Limestone became increasingly important during the Industrial Revolution and today, directly or indirectly, contributes to almost every other industry. Everyone each day benefits from the quarrying of limestone and the production of lime, which is probably one of the most valuable and versatile of all industrial materials.

From the Industrial Revolution onwards greater quantities of limestone had to be quarried to meet the demands from both old and new industries. Major advances had been made in the 18th century in the methods of producing iron. This led to an enormous increase in output and a greater demand for limestone to carry out smelting. The production of cheap iron and the improvements made by James Watt to the steam engine made the machine age of the 19th century possible. Machinery and power for mills and factories enabled production of goods to take place on a large scale. More lime was required for making the mortar used in the construction of buildings, including the new Lancashire mills. The success of the textile industry led to demands for vast quantities of bleach, which in turn required lime. The chemical industry on which, for example, dyeing, soap and glass manufacture are dependent, expanded on Merseyside around Widnes, St Helens and Runcorn in the early 19th century. It was based upon salt from Cheshire, coal from Lancashire and lime from Derbyshire. Very pure deposits of limestone are found in Dove Holes Dale and limestone of this quality was particularly sought after by the chemical industry.


A major problem faced by industry was how to transport materials such as limestone from isolated places like Dove Holes Dale to where the\ were required. Until the 18th century the roads that existed throughout the country were badly maintained, often deeply rutted and travelling on them was slow and dangerous. Most merchandise was transported on the backs of horses, that went across the country on narrow tracks. A great improvement came when the first Turnpike Trust was created in 1706. This scheme enabled local leading citizens to set up toll gates and maintain the roads with the money received. Turnpike roads flourished throughout the 18th century and by 1760 in this district they existed between Buxton - Whaley Bridge – Stockport: Chapel-en-le-Frith - Horwich End - Macclesfield; Buxton - Derby - London; Fairfield - Barmoor Clough - Winnats – Sheffield: Buxton - Tideswell - Chesterfield - Sheffield. On these roads, products, including lime, could be moved in carts in much larger quantities, but the manufacture of goods on a large scale required the assembly of fuel and raw materials in bulk from many different sources and the distribution of the finished work to all parts of the country and to the ports. Neither the pack-horse nor the turnpike system was adequate to move large tonnages of goods about. Goods could be transported on navigable rivers but vast areas of land could not be reached by them. It was the construction of the canal system that made the transport of goods more economical and efficient. A local man, James Brindley, made a valuable contribution to this work; he emerged as one of the great canal pioneers of the country.

The first canal built independently of a river was, the Bridgewater Canal. It was financed by Francis Egerton, third Duke of Bndgewater, who wished to find a cheaper and easier way of carrying coal from his mines at Worsley to Manchester than was possible by road. An Act of Parliament was passed in 1759 and the Duke's agent, John Gilbert, who was a resident engineer for the project, introduced him to James Brindley, who was to become a consulting engineer on this work.

James Brindley (1716-72) the most famous man from our parish was born in a cottage in Tunstead. He came from a line of independent, fairly well-to-do, yeoman farmers. He spent part of his youth working as a farm labourer and obtained some knowledge of water-power and its uses by studying the mill machinery when he took corn to be ground at the local mill.

In 1733 at the age of 17 he began an apprenticeship as a millwright under a man named Abraham Bennett, at Sutton, near Macclesfield and soon showed exceptional skill and ability. In 1742 he set up his own business in Leek and the excellence of his work gradually established him as an engineer and millwright of quality. His early achievements included devising pumping machinery for dealing with flooded coal mines, introducing technical innovation to a silk mill and designing a steam engine for which he took out a patent in 1758.

The Duke of Bridgewater, John Gilbert and James Brindley combined their respective talents to build the canal from Worsley to Manchester. Brindley's aqueduct, which crossed the river Irwell at Barton, was one of the engineering feats of the day. The success of the canal made Brindley famous and during the rest of his life he worked on projects for over 350 miles of inland waterways. The greatest of these was the Grand Trunk Canal which was to link Liverpool, Hull and Bristol. It was begun in 1766 but not completed until after Brindley's death.

Brindley was a remarkable man. He received little education and always wrote as he spoke, in broad Derbyshire. While working on his projects he performed all calculations in his head and rarely set down his plans on paper. He was an exceptional surveyor who could see the "lie of the land" just by looking at it and was able to devise a solution to any engineering problem, often going to bed for anything up to three days in order to do so. In character Brindley was tough and forthright, at times touchy and not always easy to get on with, but he was admired and respected for his honesty, integrity and kindness. He died in 1772, at the age of 56, from a combination of overwork and untreated diabetes. His childhood home at Tunstead has now gone but a tree has been planted to mark the site, with a plaque nearby.

When the Duke's canal was opened between Worsley and Stretford in 1761 the price of coal was reduced by almost half and the demand increased enormously. Between 1761 and the end of the century further sections of the Bridgewater Canal were opened and when completed it connected Leigh, Worsley and Manchester, and Manchester and Runcorn. During the next 40 years or so canals were built to link the various centres of trade and by providing a cheap transport system they helped to bring industrial prosperity to Britain.


Although there are no canals in the parish of Wormhill, they were important to the development of the limestone industry in the area. The main reason for the construction of the Peak Forest Canal and Tramway was to enable lime and stone from Dove Holes Dale to be transported to Manchester, Runcorn and elsewhere, at the lowest possible cost. For over 60 years, until the Midland Railway was built in the 1860s, it provided local industry with the most efficient and economic link with other parts of the country.

It was the shareholders in the Ashton-under-Lyne Canal who in 1793 thought of extending their canal by means of a further branch to the quarries in Dove Holes. Originally it was intended that the Peak Forest Canal should run from its junction with the Ashton Canal at Dukinfield as far as Chapel Milton. From there a plate-way or tramway, on which horse-drawn rail wagons could be used, was to be constructed to Loads Knowle at Barmoor Clough, Dove Holes. An Act authorising the Peak Forest Canal was passed in 1794 and work was started the same year. At the same time the Canal Company leased land at Dove Holes and opened a limestone quarry to provide stone for the construction of the canal. Benjamin Outram, who was born in Alfreton in 1764, was appointed engineer. When he found that the contours of the ground made it impracticable to build the last section from Bugsworth (now Buxworth) to Chapel Milton as a canal, he decided instead that the tramway should run from Bugsworth to Loads Knowle, a distance of 61/2 miles and a rise of over 500 feet. In 1795 work was started on the tramway and it was still under construction when the upper level of the canal from Marple to Bugsworth was opened in 1796. Until the tramway was completed in 1799 limestone was carried from Dove holes by horse-drawn carts to the canal at Bugsworth.

The Peak Forest Tramway was originally a single-track line with passing places but it was made double-track throughout in 1803 except for the tunnels. The first tram-plates were of cast iron and were laid on stone supports instead of sleepers. The rails were originally three feet long and were "L" shaped, having a two inch high flange.

The line as first laid out led to Loads Knowle Quarry, which was on land between the present A6 road and the road to Sparrow Pit. The line was extended, from Barmoor Clough to the quarries at Dove Holes Dale by 1800. It appears that it was further extended, by an Act obtained by the Duke of Devonshire in 1816, for the express purpose of opening up the limestone royalties at Dove Holes and Peak Dale. Today the course of the tramway can clearly be identified at Barmoor Clough, where the bridge over the line of the Buxton to Manchester railway has a double arch; one was for use by the railway, which was built in 1863, and the other for use by the tramway. In Dove Holes the tramway went under the Buxton Road into Gnat Hole, where in 1808 George Potts opened kilns which were fed with stone coming from the Hallstead’s quarry owned by the Gisbourne family.

When completed, the Peak Forest Canal and Tramway had an immediate impact on the limestone industry in Dove Holes Dale. It influenced both the ownership of the works and the location of quarries and kilns. Most of the trade was controlled by the Canal Company and lime merchants from outside the district. Smaller producers of lime and limestone, such as farmers, tended to give up the trade as they found it difficult to compete with the larger producers, who could make use of the tramway and canals. A further effect of the tramway was that, for some time after it opened, lime-burning virtually stopped in Dove Holes Dale. Instead, the limestone was taken down to the lime kilns which had been built at many points along the canal, including those at Bugsworth and Marple. The reason for this appears to be that it was considered easier to transport stone downhill to where the coal was, rather than pull the coal uphill to the quarries. Lime-burning returned to Dove Holes Dale when it was realised that, as the weight of limestone is reduced by about 50% during burning, it was not good economics to take two tons of stone down to the canal to make one ton of lime.

Several new quarries opened and the employment they provided attracted families to the area. In October 1800 the Canal Company wished to increase the number of quarrymen employed on contract at their quarries in Dove Holes to 200. As the local supply of labour had been exhausted they advertised in the "Derby Mercury" for workmen, offering high wages, a quart of ale per day and a flannel waistcoat and trousers to those who would contract for working by the piece. They provided either rent-free houses for the men to live in, or obtained beds for them in other houses. A shop was opened by the company where employees could purchase goods at cost price.

Generally quarrying was still carried out in a haphazard manner. Stone was hewn from the most convenient faces without much concern about future workings. If it was to be transported on the canal, lime and limestone had first to be loaded into wagons on the connecting tramway. The first wagons were made of rough wood, had iron-hooped wooden wheels and looked like farm carts. The later metal wagons could carry a load of two or three tons. About 20 or 30, sometimes as many as 40, loaded wagons were loosely chained together to make a "gang". These were pulled uphill or along level stretches of the tramway by teams of horses attended by a man and his assistant, a boy aged between 12 and 17. When the route was downhill, as it was for much of the way from Barmoor Clough to Bugsworth, the horses were unhooked and the wagons travelled by gravity alone. The waggoner would then ride on the stubs of the axles on one of the trucks and act as brakeman. This was quite a dangerous job. A heavy chain with an iron pin on the end hung by each pair of wheels. If a gang began to move too fast the man had to bend down and push the pin between the iron spokes into a socket to lock the wheels. Often he would need to climb along the moving gang to perform the same operation on five or six trucks. If a wheel was left skidding too long it would get red hot and so the man had to climb back along the wagons, release the peg and put it through different spokes or trap another wheel.

Some lime and limestone were unloaded from the tramway to supply local customers. There were sidings at Chapel Milton where lime was unloaded for use by farmers on their fields. Near Stodhart Tunnel an unauthorised siding was used to unload lime for a tannery where it was used to remove the hair from hides.

In 1808 around 50,000 tons of limestone were taken down the tramway from Loads Knowle to Bugsworth. It was then loaded into barges on the Peak Forest Canal, the rate for transport being l1/2d per ton per mile. From Bugsworth limestone and lime could be transported all over the country. There were links with Yorkshire, the Lancashire manufacturing towns and the Cheshire chemical industry. When the Macclesfield Canal opened in 1831, connecting the Peak Forest Canal to the Trent and Mersey, it provided a shorter route to the Potteries and to London and the south.

In the mid-19th century, families in Upper End supplemented their income by involvement with the quarrying industry. William Barker of Lowfields, farmer of 18 acres, worked also as a lime-carrier. At "The Yard", Jonathan Garlick, farmer of 40 acres, had two sons who were lime-burners, while at Fernhouse Farm Thomas Mason, farmer of 120 acres, had five sons who were labourer lime-burners. By the end of the century a whole new village had been created which was inhabited mainly by quarrymen and their families who had little involvement with agriculture. This changing way of life was accelerated by the coming of the railway.