Buxton Lime Firms (BLF)
Buxton Lime Firms (BLF) was formed in 1891, following the amalgamation of lime and limestone companies operating in the Buxton area.
The Solvay process (also referred to as the ammonia-soda process) is the major industrial process for the production of sodium carbonate and was developed by Ernest Solvay in the 1860s. The process uses salt brine either from inland sources or from the sea and limestone. Around 1874 John Brunner and Ludwig Mond established the Solvay process for the manufacture of soda ash at Northwich. Salt was readily available locally and limestone came from Derbyshire.
By 1891 fierce competition saw thirteen quarry owners amalgamate their seventeen quarries into Buxton Lime Firms controlled by four directors who raised the price of stone and lime and thus subsequently increased production by modernisation and development.
BLF owned 1522 acres of land, 89 lime kilns (including 2 Hoffmans), 21 large stone crushers and 3 collieries. They produced 360,000 tons limestone and 280,000 tons lime per year and dominated the industry in Derbyshire. Between 1895 and 1915 a further nine quarries were either started or bought and a limekiln building program started.
Major quarries at Tunstead and Hindlow were developed and expanded.
Tunstead was started in 1929 but it wasn’t until 1935 that the first three Patent Lime Kilns were commissioned. Hindlow was expanded with seven new kilns in 1930/31.
Brunner and Mond owned a controlling share in BLF and in 1926 four major chemical companies in Great Britain (Nobel Industries Ltd.; Brunner, Mond and Company Ltd.; United Alkali Company; and British Dyestuffs Corporation) merged to become Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).
During WWII many kilns were decommissioned as they could not conform with the strict blackout regulations. This obviously reduced production but this was overcome by enclosing the top of the kilns and fortunately this improved their efficiency and led to the development of a new type of kiln.
The BLF logo on one building is probably the last reminder of this part of Derbyshire’s Heritage.