Butterley Gangroad Project
In 2011 Trevor Griffin was preparing a guided walk to follow the route of the gangroad for Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Discovery Days. He contacted landowners to gain access and the owner of the land to the north of Fritchley Tunnel, suggested that it might be worthwhile to try to open up the tunnel to discover if it was still accessible.
The Butterley Gangroad Project of the Derbyshire Archaeological Society developed from this idea. The Society obtained funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for this project under the “Your Heritage” scheme. It was taken forward by a group of local residents and people with an interest in the old railway and has involved other residents, children and members of other groups on a volunteer basis.
One of the project objectives was to excavate and investigate the tunnel to learn more of its history. Was it a tunnel or a bridge? Was the infrastructure as old as the railway? The project also had much wider objectives to study, interpret and disseminate information about the railway, the associated quarries and limeworks. It achieved this through a mix of professional archaeology, fieldwork by trained amateurs, recording memories, collecting information, photographs, and maps and through research.
The early archives of the Butterley Company were deposited at the Derbyshire Record Office before Riden published his major study of the history of the Butterley Company in 1973, which forms an invaluable overview and background. Hanson Brick deposited further archives there in 2003. These include the original letter book, previously missing financial records, which include an early ledger covering the period 1793-
Therefore the project has been able to provide a much fuller and more accurate history than those previously available. It has also drawn on information from the archaeological report prepared for the project by Wessex Archaeology and also a study undertaken on behalf of the Panel for Historic Engineering Works of the Institution of Civil Engineers. This history has been made public through a comprehensive programme of lectures, talks, walks and activities for children.
The project has been closed down and summary information and key documents have been made available online via this website (see Archive section). A full project archive has been deposited in the Derbyshire Record Office at Matlock.
The project team would like to thank the landowners who kindly allowed access to their land in order to make investigations as well as the Friends of Cromford Canal, Wessex Archaeology, the Bullbridge and Sawmills Association, Crich Parish Council, Crich Heritage Partnership, the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, the Glebe Field Centre and finally the Heritage Lottery Fund without which this research would never have taken place.
Derbyshire Archaeological Society Journal
The project has produced a paper detailing a comprehensive history of the gangroad from the original construction in 1793 to it’s closure in 1933. This paper was published in the 2014 edition (Volume 134) of the journal.
Benammi Swift, a young Derbyshire musician, has written a piece of music specially for the project. Click here to listen to ‘The Walking Train’.