Stoney Middleton - Sketch of Lime Kilns in The Dale

Black and White Sketch of Lime Kilns in The Dale (Stoney Middleton)

Imagine yourself walking down Stoney Middleton Dale, before today's quarrying had gouged out large sections to the right, and when heat and smoke from the lime kilns might be expected to greet you round every corner in this winding chasm.

A description of Stoney Middleton in 1862, in White's Directory: "Sheffield and 20 miles round" relates how:

“The wild scenery of Middleton Dale is often greatly improved in picturesque effect, by the fires of the lime kilns; the smoke which rises from them curling about the rocks, and occasionally obscuring their summits, gives to the whole scene a character of great sublimity.”

The fires were kept burning 24 hours a day, only been let out on Christmas Day - one can imagine that at night, any traveller would have the way lit for him as well as if it were the West End of London! Anna Seward, the Eyam poet is quoted as saying they were very impressive by night, “emitting their livid flames which seem so many small volcanoes”!.

Was there grief when the fires were put out for the last time? Or a sense of relief. No longer would their voracious appetites need to be fed - the lime loaders would have worked long hours in hot, and dangerous conditions where the effect of burnt lime accidentally dropped on damp skin caused serious burning, but at least you knew where you were with a lime kiln...

(Information provided by Rosemary Lockie)

Sketch contributed by Don Rimmington on 26th July 2004.
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