MEERBROOK SOUGH (SK.327552)
Meerbrook sough was started in 1772 to drain the lead mines around Wirksworth. On 24th July, 1904 it was inaugurated as the Ilkeston and Heanor Water Board and on average discharges almost 20 million gallons of good quality water a day into the Derwent. Prior to this Ilkeston was supplied with water from Stanley Brook and Peacock Colliery Company at Ilkeston with Heanor being supplied from the Bailey Brook Colliery and boreholes at Smalley Hill.
At a temperature of 15°C Meerbrook Sough is thermal with water vapour rising in cold weather (other sough temperatures for comparison are - Fountain Bath Sough at 20°C, Stoke Sough - 12°C and Ridgeway Sough- 14°C)
The line of the sough is marked by a row of draw shafts now covered with stone 'beehives - without its branches it is 2½ miles long and 5 miles with its branches.
Begun in 1772, the keystone on the outlet arch which is one of the biggest in the county, about 10 ft wide and 7 ft high, is inscribed 'F.H. 1772', for Francis Hurt of Alderwasley, the principal of the sough proprietors. Cost of construction was enormous, by 1811, £45,000 had been spent on driving it to Bole Hill and then extended by a new company formed in 1840, and by 1846 had cost £70,000.
When Meerbrook sough was opened it also took water that Cromford sough had previously drained because the water table was lowered by an additional 30m. Cromford sough was constructed between 1673 and 1682 to drain lead mines - particularly those on the Gang Vein. Since Cromford sough powered Arkwright’s mill this led to a protracted legal battle to have the water flow restored but this was unsuccessful.
Cromford canal also suffered from this reduction in water supply and as a result Lea Wood Pumping station (with its beam engine manufactured in 1849 by the Milton Ironworks, Elsecar, Yorkshire) was built to raise water from the River Derwent and maintain the correct canal level.
In a field 120 metres west of the Meerbrook sough tail is one of the sough vents.
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