Quarrying for limestone probably began in Roman times. In 1791 Benjamin Outram and Samuel Beresford bought land for a quarry to supply limestone to their new ironworks at Butterley. This became known as Hilt's Quarry, and the stone was transported down a steep wagon way, the Butterley Company Gangroad, to the Cromford Canal at Bullbridge. Near there they also built lime kilns for supplying farmers and for the increasing amount of building work. Apart from a period when it was leased to Albert Banks, the quarry and kilns were operated by the Butterley Company until 1933.
Quarrying in the early 1900s
The gang road, descending some 300 feet in about a mile, was at first worked by gravity, a brakeman "spragging" the wheels of the wagons, which were returned to the summit by horses. However, in 1812 the incline was the scene of a remarkable experiment, when William Brunton, an engineer for the company, produced his Steam Horse locomotive.
In 1840 George Stephenson, in building the North Midland Railway, discovered deposits of coal at Clay Cross and formed what later became the Clay Cross Company. He realised that burning lime would provide a use for the coal slack that would otherwise go to waste. He leased Cliff Quarry and built Limekilns at Bullbridge. They were connected by another wagon way including a section known as "The Steep", a 550 yards (500 m) self-acting incline at a slope of 1 in 5.
Cliff Quarry closed in 1957, though it restarted at the western end until 2010 when it was mothballed. The eastern end was bought by the Tramway Museum in 1959.
Hilt's Quarry closed in 1933 and is derelict. For 38 years, Rolls-Royce used it for dumping low-level radioactive waste such as enriched uranium, cobalt-60 and carbon-14. Following a campaign and blockades by villagers in the Crich and District Environment Action Group, dumping ceased in 2002. In 2004 the Government backed an Environment Agency document banning further dumping, and Rolls-Royce will be required to restore and landscape the site.
The memorial tower ('Crich Stand') was completed in 1923. The large plaque in the foreground dedicates the tower to the memory of the soldiers from the Sherwood Foresters Regiment who died in World War I and World War II. Two further plaques are found beneath the railings, either side of the door. One further dedicates the memorial to those who died serving in the Sherwood Foresters regiment from 1945 to 1970, while the other further dedicates it to those who died serving the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment from 1970 to 2007 and the Mercian Regiment since 2007. The small plaque to the left is dedicated to Brigadier J.H.M. Hackett, 'Last Colonel The Sherwood Foresters 1965 – 1970 and First Colonel The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment'.