August 16, 2021

Limestone, lime products and limekilns play a major role in the industrial past and present of the Peak District.  Now Tarmac’s Tunstead site – which produces a wide range of lime products for use in activities like electricity generation, water treatment,  soil stabilisation and steel manufacture – is supporting a project to enhance a site of historic importance.

The company has donated limestone to the South West Peak Landscape Partnership for a project to restore and enhance a lime kiln in Gradbach, Quarndon.  The Partnership, with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Association for Industrial Archaeology and the Peak District National Park Authority, has been working on the restoration of this historical lime kiln and the construction of a replica kiln.

The donated stone was burned in the replica kiln to demonstrate how the process would have worked in 18th and 19th Centuries when the Gradbach lime kiln would have been used.

South West Peak Cultural Heritage Officer Dr Catherine Parker Heath has been leading on this project.  She said:  “This has been an exciting project for protecting and enhancing the industrial heritage of this area.  The Gradbach lime kiln was in a sorry state. Working with several funders, experts and volunteers we have given the kiln some much needed care, improved its structure and prevented it from collapsing into the nearby road.

“Lime kilns are important heritage structures, so we are delighted that we have been able to improve the Gradbach kiln.  We are also pleased that we have been able to partner with local company Tarmac to source limestone and build and try out a replica lime kiln next to the original one. To see the process of lime burning actually taking place close to how it would have been done in the past, has really helped bring the past alive!”

“The future care of the kiln will be supported by the High Peak Scouts who will use the project to help them achieve a newly created Derbyshire Archaeology Badge.”

Graham Cooper, Tarmac’s lime business director adds: “Tarmac is always keen to get involved in projects which promote the historical importance of quarrying and associated industries in this area.  So, we were very pleased to be able to donate stone from our Tunstead quarry for use in the Gradbach project and the replica kiln.  The work the Partnership has done to protect the 200-year-old lime kiln is very impressive and we look forward to hearing more about this project in the future.”

Picture captions:

Main image: Left to right – historic building specialist Mark Womersley; Tarmac lime business director, Graham Cooper; South West Peak Cultural Heritage Officer, Dr Catherine Parker Heath watch the replica lime kiln get to work.

Inset image: At the restored historic Gradbach Lime Kiln – left to right: South West Peak Cultural Heritage Officer, Dr Catherine Parker Heath;  Tarmac lime business director, Graham Cooper; and historic building specialist Mark Womersley