Buxton is a spa town in Derbyshire, England. It has the highest elevation – about 960 feet (290 m) above sea level – of any market town in England. Close to the county boundary with Cheshire to the west and Staffordshire to the south, Buxton is described as “the gateway to the Peak District National Park”. A municipal borough until 1974, Buxton was then merged with other localities lying primarily to the north, including Glossop, to form the local government district and borough of High Peak within the county of Derbyshire. Economically, Buxton is within the sphere of influence of Greater Manchester. The population of the town was 22,115 at the 2011 Census.
from Derbyshire Heritage
Buxton stables and dome
Above the crescent, on the west side, the 6th Duke of Devonshire built a fine circular set of stables, which he gave to charity in 1859 to be converted into the Devonshire Royal Hospital. The architect, Henry Curry, covered the circular exercise area in the centre of the stables with a huge iron-framed dome covered in slate.
Until recently this was the largest unsupported dome in the world.The hospital closed about 2000 and the building was converted by the University of Derby, as the centrepiece of their Buxton campus.
Buxton Crescent was opened in 1784. Built by John Carr for the Fifth Duke of Devonshire with a view to developing the ancient spa it cost £120,000.
Traditionally this is said to have been paid for from the profits of his copper mines at Ecton in the Manifold Valley but this is given little credence at Chatsworth. Built of local stone along with the impressive domed stables.
Henry Curry, covered the circular exercise area in the centre of the stables with a huge iron-framed dome covered in slate. Until recently this was the largest unsupported dome in the world.
The stables were later to become the Devonshire Hospital which closed in 2000 and then converted by the University of Derby, as the centrepiece of their Buxton campus.
The position of the Crescent at the foot of the Slopes is believed to be due to a stubborn landowner who asked too much for the preferred imposing site on the hill top.
St.Anne’s Well, one of the seven wonders of the Peak, faces the Crescent and St. Anne’s Chape stood here until it was closed by Henry VIII.
Old Buxton Market Place stands on the hill top, and claims to be the highest market place above sea level in England. It still keeps the stump of its old cross
Buxton Lime Firms (BLF)
The Solvay process (also referred to as the ammonia-soda process) is the major industrial process for the production of sodium carbonate and was developed by Ernest Solvay in the 1860s. The process uses salt brine either from inland sources or from the sea and limestone. Around 1874 John Brunner and Ludwig Mond established the Solvay process for the manufacture of soda ash at Northwich. Salt was readily available locally and limestone came from Derbyshire.
By 1891 fierce competition saw thirteen quarry owners amalgamate their seventeen quarries into Buxton Lime Firms controlled by four directors who raised the price of stone and lime and thus subsequently increased production by modernisation and development.
BLF owned 1522 acres of land, 89 lime kilns (including 2 Hoffmans), 21 large stone crushers and 3 collieries. They produced 360,000 tons limestone and 280,000 tons lime per year and dominated the industry in Derbyshire. Between 1895 and 1915 a further nine quarries were either started or bought and a limekiln building program started.
Major quarries at Tunstead and Hindlow were developed and expanded.
Tunstead was started in 1929 but it wasn’t until 1935 that the first three Patent Lime Kilns were commissioned. Hindlow was expanded with seven new kilns in 1930/31.
Brunner and Mond owned a controlling share in BLF and in 1926 four major chemical companies in Great Britain (Nobel Industries Ltd.; Brunner, Mond and Company Ltd.; United Alkali Company; and British Dyestuffs Corporation) merged to become Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).
During WWII many kilns were decommissioned as they could not conform with the strict blackout regulations. This obviously reduced production but this was overcome by enclosing the top of the kilns and fortunately this improved their efficiency and led to the development of a new type of kiln.
The BLF logo on one building is probably the last reminder of this part of Derbyshire’s Heritage.
St Anne’s Well
The spring at St Ann’s well was probably a place of pilgrimage as early as the Middle Ages, but certainly by Tudor times it was fairly well established as a spa and in Elizabeth I’s time it was visited for this purpose by The Earl of Leicester, Lord Burghley and no less than Mary Queen of Scots, who was being held captive by the Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife Bess of Hardwick at nearby Chatsworth.
The Old Hall Hotel dates back to 1573 when the captive Mary Queen of Scots stayed at the hotel.