New exhibition at Buxton Museum showcases the rich history of lead, lime and coal in Derbyshire

A brand new exhibition at Buxton Museum explores how thousands of people living in the Buxton area have throughout time worked as miners or quarry men, getting and transporting stone, and contributing to changing the landscape completely.

Paintings, photographs and artefacts from the museum’s permanent collection have been specially chosen for the Lead, Lime, Coal exhibition – which is now open and free entry.

Visitors can step back in time, discover the workers’ memories of the industries and consider what working in these industries was like then, compared with now.

New exhibition at Buxton Museum

Councillor Barry Lewis, council Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture, Tourism and Climate Change, said:

“Derbyshire has a proud industrial history that has shaped our landscape and our people, from Roman times to the present day.

“This fascinating exhibition gives us a glimpse into that history – and a voice to the people who made it all happen.”

New exhibition at Buxton Museum

Photographs commissioned from John Davies in 1985 focusing on the limestone industry around Buxton are seen alongside rare, earlier images showing different machines, tools and ancient customs.

Recent acquisitions will go on show for the first time including a picture showing quarrying in the 18th century, with men climbing the quarry faces with no evidence of safety gear, by an unknown artist. This was purchased with help from the Art Fund’s New Collecting Award.

New exhibition at Buxton Museum

Another recent acquisition is a watercolour painting called Topley Pike, 1923, by Karl Hagerdorn (1889 – 1969). It shows Buxton Central Quarry, at the start of the Monsal Trail, one hundred years ago. This picture has been acquired with help from the National Lottery/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

Slightly more modern is a View of a Limestone Works, by Herbert G. Slater (1892 – 1978), possibly the quarry at Stoney Middleton.

Each picture shows different stone working processes and techniques, from horse and cart through to trains, from lime burning on the edge of the quarry to looming, steaming and smoking kilns.

New exhibition at Buxton Museum

Other recent acquisitions have been gifts from local people – an ingot of lead made when the Romans were in Britain, a jacket of an ICI operative from the 1960s, and the Safety Trophy awarded to sections of the ICI Ltd Lime Division in the 1950s.

This exhibition provides an opportunity for people to see unusual representations of working practices and places, a mixture of backbreaking industry and the beautiful Peak District, different modes of transport from jubilee trucks to eight-wheel lorries and rumbling trains, with the voices of a some of the people who worked here.

During your visit, if you have time, it is also well worth taking a look at the Wonders of the Peak gallery, which tells the story of the geology and archaeology of the Peak District; several objects in here continue the story of the Lead, Lime, Coal exhibition. The Blue John display is stunning too.

New exhibition at Buxton MuseumNew exhibition at Buxton Museum

Lead, Lime, Coal is open at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery from Saturday 18th February until Wednesday 7th June. Admission to all parts of the museum is free. Donations are welcome on your visit and support the work of the museum in many ways.

The museum gift shop sells a wide range of gifts, toys, replicas and items inspired by the Wonders of the Peak exhibition, a large selection of colourful minerals and rocks, t-shirts, postcards, fossils, gifts made from decorative stones, local history and special interest books, soft toys and more.

Opening Times are Tuesday to Saturday: 10am – 5pm, last admissions 4pm.

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Terrace Road, Buxton, SK17 6DA

T: 01629 533540

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