Volunteers explore links between the industrial revolution and the South Pennine uplands in a new book

Posted: 13.08.13

Much of the industrial expansion of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the South Pennines was only possible because of the minerals that lay under the ground; the building stone, fireclay, and all-important coal.

The work of volunteer survey teams investigating mineral extraction on moors at Baildon, Oxenhope and Todmorden, has been brought together in the new book Riches of the Earth: Over and under the South Pennine moors, with Alison Tymon, of West Yorkshire Geology Trust, setting the scene by providing a comprehensive geological background. The book was edited by Minerva Heritage and funded through the Watershed Landscape project, managed by Pennine Prospects.

Each team has used a number of techniques to gather data, such as field-walking and detailed surveying, as well as from aerial and ground-level photography, documents and oral history, the results of which have now, for the first time, been brought together.

Louise Brown, Pennine Prospect’s community archaeologist, explained the purpose of the book: “This publication presents case studies written by each of the teams; it’s what they’ve been doing in the field. To have volunteers contributing directly to publications, at this research level, is really good because they’ve been involved at every stage of the process from the planning, data collection, analysis and now publication.

“With this work the teams have been making the links between the mineral extraction in the uplands and the industrial expansion in the towns and valleys.
“The uplands were very busy while they were being worked; there were not only those involved in quarrying and mining but also people building the reservoirs and conduits as well as traders using the pack-horse trails that criss-crossed the area, not forgetting farmers working the land,” Louise added.

The Riches of the Earth book is available from tourist information centres in Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Haworth priced at £5.

Yorkshire Water United Utilities Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council National Farmers Union
South Pennines Association Lancashire County Council Pennine Heritage Kirklees Council Calderdale Council
Bradford District Council Northern Rail Natural England Environment Agency The National Trust