Riches of the Earth

The aim of the Riches of the Earth project was to uncover the secrets of the extraction industries and the stories of what went on beneath our feet. 

While the textile industry originally relied on local supplies of wool and water power to get it started, much of the industrial expansion of the 19th and early 20th century was only possible because of what lay below the surface of the ground. As the scale and range of manufacturing output increased, so did the demand for additional resources to power and build the mills and factories that employed a rapidly growing urban population, which in turn needed new housing. Without the locally available source of coal and good quality building stone, it is unlikely that the industrial expansion that took place around the uplands would ever have been possible. Certainly Victorian architecture owes much of its character and appearance to the quality of the stone it is built from.

It is not just coal and building stone that has been dug out of the ground, and many other useful kinds of geological deposits have been exploited. Some of the evidence that can still to be found on the surface dates back to before the Industrial Revolution, but there is much that we do not know about how they went about getting what they needed from the ground.

But what is the legacy of the industries that were once present in the South Pennines moorland landscape. How do we know what went on? How can we tell what impact the extraction industries had on the landscape of the South Pennines landscape and of its people?

Survey teams investigated three areas - Baildon, Oxenhope and Todmorden Moors - recording what survives on the ground and researched available written documents and oral history evidence. By drawing evidence together, we may begin to understand these important industries and the legacy they have left behind. 

The teams brought their work together with Alison Tymon (West Yorkshire Geology Trust) in a publication entitled 'Riches of the Earth: Over and under the South Pennine moors' (edited by Minerva Heritage, 2013), available from Hebden Bridge Tourist Information Centre. 


The archive is housed with the West Yorkshire Historic Envirmonment Record: Click here

Visit the project blog to find out more: Riches of the Earth


Related Community Heritage Updates:

Seeing Beneath the Moor...

New Publication on Historic Mineral Extraction

New Resources Reveal Geological Secrets

Excavations on Baildon Moor

Digital Modelling of the Historic Environment



Survey guidance sheets are available to download from here

The Oxenhope survey reports are available here