Fernilee Gunpowder Works

1908 photograph above.  The Fernilee Gunpowder workers.

The names of the men standing from left to right.
Mr Shaw railway Inspector, John Ashby cashier, Captain H S Cox in the white suite manager, Jim Boothby, Abram Higginbottom, Joe Ford,  Charlie Lowe,  Fred Wilson, Dougal Sherwood, Jack Broadhead, Mr Hall Stoneheads, Mr Taylor.
The men sitting down
Mr Bagshaw, George Clayton, Mr Townsend Old barney, George Raven (Fernilee Cottage killed in an accident at the Gunpowder works 1909.) Sam Boothby Kettleshulme, Joe Hill died in the same accident 1909.

George Raven was only 26 years old. Highly respected and was a member of Fernilee Reading Room now known as Overbrook Cottage Stoney Gate.
Much loved by his widowed mother. He enjoyed sport and played football and cricket.
His Mother was associated with Fernilee Wesleyen/Methodist Chapel and had a small shop in Goyt Valley and made teas. Her maiden name was Lomas.

George was killed the second Thursday in August The Glorious 12th 1909. A service was held at Taxal church.
Whaley Bridge Band led a procession of 800 men through Fernilee Village.  Mr Danish led an outdoor service. Miss Cissie Wainright was the soloist.


High Peak News 4 July 1874

 Fernilee and its gunpowder mills

The romantic and highly picturesque village of Fernilee, in the parish of Hope, from its interesting and secluded situation affords, whether in winter or summer, some of the most charming landscapes in Derbyshire.
Shut out in the greater part from the busy scenes of daily life, and the dull monotony of the town, it fairly reveals in its own quietness and solitude, with nothing to create discord on its grassy slopes or finely-wooded hills.

The clear rippling stream of the Goyt which flows through the valley as a small Brooklet, unpolluted with the filth and chemicals which are poured into its waters lower down, abounds with fish which may here and there be seen sporting about, or leaping after the flies upon its surface.
Here and there rich meadow and pasture land with cultivated fields and farm houses, some of rude construction, and others of more refined build, dot the landscape, whilst in the distance loom thickly wooded copses and wild moor land, where the pheasant, the partridge, the rabbit, and other game may be found. Taxal Church, in the centre of a wood, also appears a conspicuous object in the distance; whilst on the slope of a hill may be noticed the neat and handsome little chapel erected by the Wesleyan Methodists, whose sway in this neighbourhood appears to exceed all other denominations.

There are also two coal mines, one worked in the usual way, and the other has had its coal drawn by an inclined tunnel from the bowels of the earth. Near these mines there are a few cottages and neat farm houses, and also a little inn. The line conveying the wagons of the Buxton Lime Company also passes through this way, skirting the hill side, and carried under the Buxton highway through a deep cutting, and then to the incline on the old Cromford and High Peak Railway.

In one or two secluded spots there are snugly ensconced in shady dells some fine villa residences, a few cottages, and farm stead’s, all within a short distance of the above highway. In the valley at the foot of towering heights, clad with trees and verdure, there are situated the gunpowder mills, of Jas. Hall Williamson, & Co., known as the Fernilee Gunpowder Mills


The Reporter 12 August 1893
 The Chilworth gunpowder Company.

On Monday the directors of this company paid a visit to their gunpowder works at Fernilee.
Luncheon was served at the works.
Buxton Advertiser 28 April 1894. Accident at the powder mills.
An accident which might have been of a very serious nature occurred at the Fernilee Powder Mills, on Wednesday last.
It appears that the manager, Mr Beresford, and a party of friends were making experiments in order to ascertain the strength of a dangerous explosive called emilite, and charged the gun, kept at the works for testing purposes, with five ounces of the explosive, emilite, with the result that it shattered the gun into several pieces, and sent the ball, which weighs 65 lbs, a distance of half-a-mile, where it buried itself about four feet in the ground, only just missing some cattle that were grazing close by.

The report of the explosion could be heard for miles around, and it very naturally caused great consternation amongst the employees at the factory for the time being. Luckily for the gunner, a man named Smedley, he very wisely gave the cannon a wider berth than he usually does when testing the ordinary powder.

EMULITE® is an emulsion explosive. It consists of small droplets of ammonium nitrate solution, tightly packed in a mixture of oil and wax. … The thickness of the oil and wax membranes separating the droplets is less than one ten thousandth of a millimetre.


Black Powder

It is unknown who invented the first explosive black powder.
Black powder also known as gunpowder is a mixture of saltpetre (potassium nitrate), sulphur, and charcoal (carbon). It originated in China around the tenth century and was used in fireworks and signals. Black powder is the oldest form of a ballistic propellant and it was used with early muzzle-type firearms. Being a mechanical explosive that is messy, black powder was eventually replaced by cleaner smokeless powder explosives.