Remembering the work of Buxton’s female quarry workers in WW1

A Buxton historian has explained why we need to honour the work of women in the area’s quarries, particularly those employed during the First World War, and has given his backing to a new campaign to raise funds for a female lime worker sculpture.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 1:08 pm

The Buxton Advertiser is campaigning to raise £4,000 for a female sculpture to sit alongside the Jack the Lime worker statue in Grin Low Woods, which are owned by Buxton Civic Association, to honour the work of the quarry women.

Historian Chris Simpson has now explained the vital role of women in the quarries during the First World War, as many stepped up to deal with the employment crisis within the industry.

The female war workers at Buxton Lime Firms

He said: “Generally people think of the Second World War as the land girls but there was a severe lack of manpower in the First World War and the women stepped in to fill the jobs.”

A job advert which appeared in the Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal in April 1917 appealed for women workers to fill vacancies at Buxton Lime Firms (BLF) for the duration of the war.

It said: “The Buxton Lime Firms require women workers to assist in the production of munition material and in the production of food for munition workers.

"The women who are competent to do the work will be paid the same piecework, tonnage rates and bonuses as men.”

A WW1 female quarry worker

The work included lime drawing, picking and loading as well as operating machine drills, stone crushing and siding work.

Chris said: “The women stepped in and were employed in the quarries, lime kilns, on the quarry rail systems, in the fields growing produce and on the farms with livestock, and as masons and joiners.

"Running alongside this BLF created a network called The Cottage Garden Association, providing land for allotments and the raising of animals. The whole area of what is now the housing developments of Foxlow Park, Harris Road, Trenchard Drive and the latest new builds, were put aside for allotments and the husbandry of animals.”

Peak Dale section of the women war workers at Buxton Lime Firms

He added: “The work of these women quarry workers needs to be remembered and celebrated.”

To support the campaign for the new female lime worker’s statue donations can be made online at https://www.gofundme.com/f/female-quarry-worker-statue-campaign or in person at Poole’s Cavern.

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The Buxton Lime Firms' Women War Workers