Industry along the lIne
Along with the lime kilns and remains of the railway itself, Litton and Cressbook Mill are the most obvious signs of the Monsal line’s industrial heritage. The pale limestone which gives this area of the Peak District, the White Peak, its name, was mined extensively. This was formed more than 330 million years ago, when Britain was covered in a shallow sea close to the Equator, and fossils can be found embedded in the rock. Near Litton, rocks created by lava flowing into that sea can also be seen. Built in 1782, Litton Mill later became notorious for its dreadful working conditions and the exploitation of orphans sent to work there from nearby cities. The mill struggled financially due to its isolated location before the railway was built, and after changing hands a number of times, it finally closed in the 1970s. The buildings have now been converted to private apartments, but a concessionary footpath runs through them, allowing the fine brickwork to be seen. Cressbrook Mill fared rather better, spinning cotton for the lace-making industry. The original building burned down in 1785, only six years after it was built, and was rebuilt in 1787. Apprentices’ cottages were built to house the orphan children brought to work there, and the model village, which became Cressbrook, grew up around the mill. Between 1814-16, the impressive Georgian extension was added, and in 1965, the mill finally closed for business.