Buxton Advertiser launches campaign for female quarry worker statue in Grin Low Woods

Buxton’s industrial heritage is a huge part of our town so the Buxton Advertiser is launching a campaign to raise £4,000 for a female lime worker statute to be installed in Grin Low Woods next to the much loved statute of Jack.

By Lucy Ball
Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 10:59 am

The community rallied round after the Jack the lime worker statue was badly damaged last month when vandals carved anti-semitic graffiti into him, raising the £600 needed for repairs.

And Buxton Civic Association (BCA), which owns the woods, has always wanted to install a female statue to honour the women who have worked in the area’s quarries but has not been able to raise the funds so far.

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Simon Fussel, Peter Phillipson, Lucy Marsden and Jon White of the BCA with the restored statue of "Jack"

The Advertiser is proud to be a part of the community in Buxton and the High Peak so we have now launched a new campaign, in conjunction with BCA, to help raise the money for a new statue to celebrate the local women who have played their part in our area’s rich quarrying history.

When we contacted BCA with our idea for this new campaign they were thrilled.

Voluntary director Lucy Marsden said: “This is an absolutely cracking idea and we’re blown away you want to support us.

"I feel in the last year more people than ever have been out in the woods and met Jack the lime worker during their lockdown walks and the love has really grown for him.

Lucy Marsden of the BCA with the restored statue of "JacK"

"If we can get the funds for a female statue that would be amazing.

"The statue would be yet again the physical evidence of the community coming together for something good just like people did Jack was vandalised.

"She would be there for years and years to come for people to have pictures with, sit with and interact with.”

Within weeks of the attack on Jack, the community had raised more than double the money needed for repairs. So it is hoped now that people will be just as supportive with this new campaign, with the cost of the statue expected to be between £3,500 and £4,000.

Peter Phillipson chair of the BCA with the restored statue of "JacK"

Lucy said: “I know this is a different kind of campaign but it really is a great one that champions our past.”

Alan Walker from Poole’s Cavern explained Grin Low has a rich industrial past as it was the main location in Buxton for the early lime industry.

He said: “For hundreds of years there have been limestone workers in Buxton and it was not just men, it was women and children who worked to quarry out the lime.

"There were small families working the land so everyone chipped in and women would be carrying the stone or grinding it up on the surface.

"It was equal opportunities before equal opportunities became a thing. It was just you had to do your bit to make a living and that is why it is so important for us to represent the women who worked and still work in the quarries."

Alan explained how the lime when heated produces quick lime which was used in cement.

He said: “Buxton being so close to Manchester and Stoke-on-Trent helped the industrial revolution and the big factories to be built by using the quick lime in the cement.

"But the town’s relationship with lime goes back centuries.

"There was lots of limestone in the Peak District and it was good quality so lots of small cottage industries sprung up.

"People living on the land paid mineral rights to the Duke of Devonshire and soon there were more than 200 acres of industrial quarrying happening in Grin Low.

"By the late 1700s Buxton was a town of two halves, one was a scarred site of industrial devastation, the other was the building of the Crescent in a bid to become a luxury spa town.”

The sixth Duke closed down all the small kilns and planted trees to make the entrance to Buxton more welcoming but he looked after the people whose lives were based around quarrying and built workers cottages in what is now Burbage.

Alan said: “The quarries in Buxton are still important today with hundreds of people still employed at the Tarmac quarry.

"I think a statute of a female quarry worker is a really great idea, she could be carrying a barrow or grinding the stone but I think we do need to recognise the part women played and still play in the limestone industry."

Buxton Advertiser Editor Louise Cooper said: “We all have a story to tell and we are not telling the true story of our heritage by not recognising the women who have shaped our town.

"Let’s create a permanent monument acknowledging it was not just men but women too who worked and still work in the quarries.

"We know times are tough and people have had a year like no other but this campaign is about looking forward while celebrating our past and we’d love you to help make our vision and that of BCA a reality.”

As this campaign continues we will be shining a light on the area’s female quarry workers past and present, the living and working conditions of the early cottage industries and how things have changed over time.

We want this to be something the community can all get behind so whether you would like to make a donation, your school has been inspired to start teaching pupils about our town’s past or you can help tell the forgotten stories of the quarry workers we would love to hear from you.

You can get in contact via email to [email protected] or you can pledge either online at https://uk.gofundme.com/f/female-quarry-worker-statue-campaign or make donations in person to Buxton Civic Association at Poole’s Cavern marked up FOA Buxton Advertiser Sculpture Campaign.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. – Louise Cooper, editor.