Cauldon Lowe, in the Staffordshire Moorlands, is situated in the north east of Staffordshire, near the Derbyshire border. The local landscape and economy presently dominated by large limestone quarries and a cement works. Near to Cauldon Lowe, is the village of Cauldon, or Caldon as it is still occasionally spelt. Prehistoric man settled here as it is well provided with water and sheltered by the surrounding hills. Cauldon is first recorded in the will of Wulfric Spot in 1004A.D. where it is spelt “Celfdun” 1. This means “calf-hill” from the Old English word “dun” meaning “hill” and from “calf”. It appears that the hill above Cauldon was once renown for its calves 2. This hill, and the present village on it, is known as Cauldon Lowe.
The name “lowe” coming from the Old English word “hlaw” that often means “burial mound”. A number of these on the hill have been excavated and relics of prehistoric and Anglo-Saxon times discovered.
Most of Cauldon Lowe is in the parish of Cotton, getting its name from the village of Cotton, that is situated about 1.1/2 miles to the south of Cauldon Lowe. The remaining eastern part of Cauldon Lowe falling into the parish of Waterhouses. According to a reproduction map of Staffordshire of 1610, Cauldon Lowe was contained within the Totmonslow Hundred 3. The Ecclesiastical parish of Cauldon, catered for Cauldon Lowe’s dispersed Church of England Congregation up until the building of a new church in the village of Cotton by Thomas Gilbert, Squire of Cotton and owner of Cotton Hall in 1795. This fact is commemorated in the church by several stone tablets 4. Before 1757 there was little industry in the local area, with the exception of a clay brick works at Windy Arbour , a small copper mine opposite “Main Road”, Cauldon Lowe, a few small limestone quarries and several lead mines just off the Stoke to Ashbourne Road (A52) near Hoften’s Cross, Cauldon Lowe 5.
(1) Will of the Anglo Saxon nobleman called Wulfric Spot. (Staffordshire Record Office: D603/A/Add/1)
(2) Place-Names In The Moorlands. By Harry Ball. (page 12) Printed by Getliffes Design & Print, York Street Works, Leek.
(3) Antiqued Replica Map. Your County in 1610 by John Speede. From the Olde Map Co., Sennen Cove, Penzance, Cornwall.
(4) Monumental Inscriptions, St. John The Baptist Church, Cotton, Staffordshire. (page 9 and 10). Booblet “Presented by the Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry.
(5) The remains of an Anglo Saxon Cross opposite the Cross Public House, off the A52 road, Hoftens Cross, Cauldon Lowe.
Cauldon Lowe And Its Quarries 1776 – 1847
In 1757 John Gilbert was agent and engineer to the Duke of Bridgewater, building the Worsley and Bridgewater canals for the Duke. John Gilbert quickly recognised the potential of a canal system to serve the Cauldon Lowe quarries and with various Cauldon Lowe quarry owners signed an agreement on 10 April 1776 with The Trent and Mersey Canal Company.
The Act to build the Cauldon Canal started with James Brindley surveying the route in 1772 and gaining the successful Act of Parliament on 13 May 1776 6. To serve the link between the canal wharf at Froghall and the quarries at Cauldon Lowe 670 feet above sea level higher, Four separate plateways / tramways were constructed, each an improvement on the previous. The first built in 1778, and the final version built in 1847. Competition caused The Trent and Mersey Canal Company to improve the Canal, the railway and take over quarrying operations from the Cauldon Lowe proprietors in 1841 7.
Increasing demands and out put of limestone saw three separate housing schemes for quarry workers. The first in 1832, Newhouses, built by the Trent & Mersey Canal Company forming the original nucleus of the present village of Cauldon Lowe and that consisted of 12 back to back cottages.
The Cauldon Lowe Quarries Are Bought By The North Staffordshire Railway Company.
In 1847 the North Staffordshire Railway Company bought the Trent & Mersey Canal Company, but maintained the Canal traffic. In 1873 the North Staffordshire Railway Company built Bangor Terrace, and in 1903 the Stoney Lane houses were built resulting in 52 houses all together. These houses accounted for virtually the entire increase in houses around Cauldon Lowe for the last 130 years until the new Cauldon Lowe houses of the 1970’s and 1980’s that saw the 1832 – Newhouses, demolished, replaced and the amount of houses in the village of Cauldon Lowe increased.
The Welsh Connection Of Cauldon Lowe.
1853 saw a decision that significantly effected Cauldon Lowe. This was to recruit some skilled Welsh copper miners from the Amlwch (Pensarn) area of Anglesey into work the
(6) The Caldon Canal and Tramroads Including The Uttoxeter and Leek Canals and North Stafford Railway.
(Page 33) By Peter Lead. The Oakwood Press, P.O. Box 122, Headington, Oxford.
(7) Stafford Record Office : D239/M3925
Cauldon Lowe quarries, these being recruited up until 1903 8. The former Welsh families of Davis, Jones, Elias, Hughes and Roberts are abundant in the present village of Cauldon Lowe. The 1861 census shows the arrival of twelve Welshmen working in the quarries 9 .
There were two families living at the Smithy and five Welshmen lodging with these. The 1891 census shows an increase to thirteen families and twenty two Welshmen working in the quarries 10.
1878 saw the North Staffordshire Railway donate land for a chapel, between the two rows of cottages of Newhouses and Bangor Terrace. The Flintshire Presbyterian Church paid for the building that opened on Sunday 29 June 1879. With diminishing numbers the Chapel transferred to the Cheadle Methodist Church in 1938. Services ceased in the early 1950’s and the building converted into a private house in the early 1970’s 11.
Some of the Welsh descendants still work in the quarries, now Tarmac and Le Farge cement.
Nowadays, the Welsh culture has virtually passed away at Cauldon Lowe and present generations do not speak Welsh. There is a section of Cauldon Parish Church graveyard set aside for members of the Welsh community, many of whom are married, and who mainly lived at Stoney Lane. Others are buried at Cotton Parish Church. And headstones bearing Welsh names still survive.
Cauldon Lowe 1890 – The Present
By 1893 the St. Johns Ambulance Asssociation were conducting First Aid classes encouraged by the North Staffordshire Railway. The General Railway Workers Union established a branch at Cauldon Lowe in 1899. The spin off from this for a few years being Annual Demonstrations in the August of each year with parades, Brass Bands, Public Luncheons, sports and side shows, with over 1,000 people attending from as far afield as Leek, Ashbourne and Uttoxeter. By 1910 this reverted to the Annual Sports Day and lasted up until the Great War 1914-1918.
In 1905 the North Staffordshire Railway invested in new facilities and in a new quarry face for
(8) The Limestone Quarries of Caldon Low. (Page 26) By Basil Jeuda. Churnet Valley Books,
1 King Street, Leek, Staffordshire.
(9) 1861 Census : Staffordshire Record Office
(10) 1891 Census: Staffordshire Record Office
(11) The Limestone Quarries of Caldon Low. (Page 8 and 183) By Basil Jeuda.
Churnet Valley Books, 1 King Street, Leek, Staffordshire.
efficient extraction and to begin closing the old workings and the 1847 railway. Land was acquired from local landowners for the new quarry face and the limestone now moved via goods trains from Cauldon from 1909 until the lines closure in 1989. On 24 February 1906 during the new quarry face opening works a cavern was discovered containing stalactites and a spectacular stalagmite. This cave was opened for 2 years as a tourist attraction, but was demolished in 1907. The Great War necessitated weekend working in July and August 1916.
Limestone demand was so great in 1917 that quarrymen serving in the Army could return to the quarries. The remoteness of the area required locals to use the 1847 cable railway to send produce to Leek market. At the summit of the incline Horace Smith a grocer from Ashbourne erected a tin shack (that still stands today), clearly seen on the 1899 map of Cauldon Lowe at Hoften’s Cross and the sidings that were installed to serve it 13. This shop was later run by several shopkeepers, finally closing in the 1970’s at the retirement of the late Jack Sellers who had run it for Wains of Waterhouses.
In 1922 the North Staffordshire Railway was absorbed into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. The Great Depression saw a rundown of quarrying activity, the original Dunkirk and Nick quarries closing in 1931. The LMS let the quarries to John Hadfield and Sons Ltd, once endorsed by the descendants of the original limestone proprietors. Italian and German prisoners of war were used in the quarries during the war. The ground near the Smithy now occupied by Cauldon Lowe village hall saw numerous camps of white and negro US soldiers prior to the D-Day landings. The local Home Guard (NS 5) drilling in St Lawrences School.
1951 saw Derbyshire Stone (on behalf of Hadfield’s) operating the quarries and subsequently absorbed by Tarmac in 1968.The most significant event of the final 60 years of history affecting the Cauldon area was the establishment of a Cement Works by G & T Earle Ltd, part of the Blue Circle Group in 1957.
And currently owned by the Le Farge group of companies.
(12) Leek Paper Tuesday 13th August 1901 : Courtesy Leek post & Times Newspaper
(13) Map of Cauldon Low, Hoften’s Cross O.S. 1899