National Stone Centre

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National Stone Centre Publications

Delving along the Derwent - a history of 200 quarries and the people who worked in them. 



Copies available for £18 from the Cafe Takeaway at the NSC Discovery Centre. If you would like to buy a copy of Delving along the Derwent and receive it by post, please send a cheque for £21 made payable to The National Stone Centre and send it, including your name and address, to The National Stone Centre, Porter Lane, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 4LS, or contact us at for alternative ways to pay.



The national organisation for library professionals [CILIP*], has judged ‘Delving along the Derwent’
to be the UKs best local heritage publication produced in 2019, so winning the Alan Ball Award. In
announcing the decision, Terry Bracher reported that their Local Studies Committee considered the
efforts of the ‘Delvers’ - the researchers, to be ‘outstanding’. It makes an ideal present.

Whats it all about? Delving along the Derwent, tracks the stories of about 200 quarries between
Derby, Cromford, Matlock, Wirksworth and Brassington. Starting during the Stone Age, in forensic
detail, the account comes right up to the present day industry. It traces their origins, the families
and companies who worked them and the methods they used. Is there any other book which tells
how Florence Nightingale settled industrial quarrels, how Spitfire plans were kept safe, about
Stephenson’s plan to use his unsalable coal which created a whole new industry or how we
probably each use local stone a hundred times daily? Even now, this small area, largely unseen,
still manages to produce about two and a half million tonnes of stone every year.

This year, the National Stone Centre had also hoped to mark 30 years since opening in 1990.
Although obviously, they cannot celebrate their anniversary as they might have wished, they are
pleased to be still telling the Story of Stone across the UK and delighted to report the positive news
about the Alan Ball National Book Award.


‘Delving’ began as as one of 60 projects, part of DerwentWise, a scheme administered by the
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, supported initially by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The ‘Delvers’, a team of
about a dozen, were recruited, trained from scratch and coordinated by Ian Thomas [one of the
National Stone Centre founders]. They researched the area meticulously over five years. Ian and
NSC designer Steve Chadburn then took on the task of shaping the findings into this
groundbreaking book, released last year. Control was then passed to the National Stone Centre. It
proved so popular that stocks ran low and so the Centre commissioned a reprint - delivered only a
day or so before the Centre faced Lockdown 2 - but you can now buy on-line - go to the National
Stone Centre web site for more information.
What others have said ……..
So enormously worthwhile, amazing, stupendous, outstanding, magnificent …..Find out who said
what - in the book

Ian Thomas was a founder of the National Stone Centre and it’s Director for 23 years until he
retired in 2011/12 at which point he was appointed Honorary President.
His next book, now in progress, is ’A brief history of the Peak and surrounds - through 370 million
years of Climate Change’.
The National Stone Centre is an independent registered educational charity no. 516799 - Based in
Wirksworth, Derbys; its aim is to tell the Story of Stone throughout the UK.
** CILIP = The Library and Information Association