For almost 300 years from the 17th to late 19th centuries, this area was an important lead mining centre. The Cupola lead smelting works was built about 1840. Located at SK220646.
Cupolas superseded the original bole hill type of smelters in the 16th and 17th centuries. They had well developed flue systems leading to their chimneys. In the flues, lead condensed from the waste gases and could be collected by hand, maximising the output from the smelter.
A very unhealthy job described by Fanny Needham born in 1847 and Alport's oldest inhabitant. When the Youlgreave WI compiled an historical record in 1931, Fanny Needham is quoted as saying 'the flues were cleaned out twice a year when the men had to have nose and mouth covered and to keep special clothes on shelves at the works. At dinner time all was spoon meat, broth or Irish stew or a posset in winter because they might not touch the food with their hands.'
The Alport Cupola is reputed to have been one of the best developed flue systems in the Peak District. Lead mining ceased in the area in the mid 1800s and smelting followed suite in the 1890s.
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