Saturday 27 November 2010

Quarries and farming


Two of the major industries in rural Derbyshire are quarrying and farming.

Derbyshire is the largest quarrying area in the UK. In the 1990s, it produced 20 million tonnes of stone each year, most of which was limestone. It's amazing the kind of stuff stone is used for. Did you know that, as well as the obvious building uses, stone (of various forms) is used in such things as toothpaste, cosmetics, soap, paint, fertiliser... (The list goes on.)

People often moan about the quarries, saying that they spoil the countryside but, for me, the quarry was part of my growing up. I remember that my cousin, when he was a student, worked for a while in the local quarry. He would come home at the end of each shift, covered from top to toe in grey lime dust. When I stayed with my 'Nanna on the Hill' and Grandad, the warning siren used to sound to signal the beginning of blasting at that same quarry. Wagons full of stone would trundle through the country lanes at regular intervals, many owned and driven by local men. Plus, for many years, my 'Nanna with the Hat' was a cook in the canteen there, even after that grandad was killed in an accident while setting the explosives for blasting out the rock. The quarry was part of everyday life in the village and everyone accepted it as such.

Although it may be true that quarries can be an eyesore, they are part of the lifeblood of the rural community, bringing work and money into the area. At the end of the day, the locals can't live on fresh air; there has to be work of some kind and a quarry is a good deal better than a lot of the alternatives!

Farming, of course, is what everyone pictures when talking about the countryside, and it is true that there is plenty of that about too; though not so much as there used to be. In the Peak District, the main types of farming are dairy, beef and sheep; the altitude being a little high for arable crops which need the deeper soils of the lowlands. I love to see the fields, divided up by lines of drystone walls and dotted with cows or sheep. Beautiful.


  1. Simply elegant photos. I feel as though I've died and gone to heaven.

  2. It really is a cause of friction in the countryside, where people have an idea of what county life should look like, and it doesn't look like a quarry. Funny, but some people move to the country and don't even like the sounds and smells of farming.

  3. It's a beautiful landscape and I think quaries spoil less the view than a derrick !

  4. Such an interesting and informative post and I think the opinions you expressed are well-balanced. Thank you for an enjoyable read and lovely photos!