Review of ‘Bygone Industries of The Peak’, by Julie Bunting

This review is by Alan Jacques, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 22nd May 2006, and is reproduced with Alan's kind permission.

by Julie Bunting
Published by Wildtrack Publishing of Sheffield
ISBN 1-904098-01-0 (2006)

"Eagerly awaited", is a much-hackneyed phrase used by publishers when promoting a forthcoming book, but sometimes it can be overstretching the mark! When it comes to a new book penned by one of the Peak District's most prolifically popular writers, however it is then a case of understatement!

Grandly subtitled "The Peak District Journal of Natural History and Archaeology Volume 3, 2006, "Bygone Industries of the Peak" by Julie Bunting, contains an extended series of comprehensive articles, originally published in serial form in this paper over the last twenty years.

It is a book that will richly reward the reader revisiting it time and again, yielding some fascinating titbits of information within the wealth of material on industrial archaeology. Some of the archaic terms that Julie has, almost literally in some cases, unearthed would make excellent material for a remake of that classic BBC panel game "Call My Bluff".

"Stinting and trucking" are terms from the hosiery trade; "Castleton Inkle" sounds quaint but it ain't! Whilst a "Clog Block Cutter" worked only when in season! "Kits and Piggins", "Rags and Spatches", "Black-wad and Caulk" and "Queedling" all these and more are explained in a fascinating guide to the bygone days when the Peak was a veritable hive of industry.

A wide variety of trades are covered, from the ghoulish business of Bone Milling and Dung Processing through to more genteel arts of Lace Making and Stay Manufacture (corsets to you and me!) Amongst the more well known traditional Peakland industries, like Lead Mining and Rope Works, more obscure ones are also well documented, including Pigments and Paintmills and a surprisingly early example of diversification into crop husbandry at Cressbrook.

The book is expertly and meticulously researched, including a description of early cheese production, which would have EEC Officials in a state of apoplexy, were it done now! Illustrated with some early photographic images and line drawings of times pre-dating the Welfare State, Health and Safety at work and the minimum weekly wage, virtually all of the occupations featured within the various industries involved dangerous hard graft for low wages and poor working conditions.

For workers in these bygone industries, they certainly were not the Good Old Days, but Julie Bunting's book shows that what has gone before in our industrial past has also gone towards making the Peak and its people what it is today. It also explains why a gentleman's tailcoat has two buttons right in the middle of the back!

Review by Alan Jacques

Editor's Note:
At the time of writing this review (2006), signed copies were said to be available direct from the author. However for reasons of privacy (GDPR), her contact details have been withdrawn from this webpage. (Updated 24 Dec 2018)

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