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The Colour Works

A local place of interest I have overlooked for many years is a pigment works located on the banks of the river Derwent, between Matlock and Matlock Bath. As a boy, I often fished in this area as the combination of rapids, weir and deep pools were excellent spots to catch Trout and Grayling. The works was in production back then, the river below the works often tainted a reddish colour due to pigment leaching into the waterway that vented from the site.

I am not sure when the ‘Colour Works’ (the name we knew it by) shut down and indeed I never noticed it happening. But I guess it was sometime in the last 10 to 15 years. Only when walking along the A6 on the opposite side of the Derwent did I see that the small footbridge leading over the river to the site was derelict. Beyond this, the old houses containing the offices were visible and clearly abandoned.

Having not done any kind of ‘Urbex’ exploring for several years, this site made an ideal candidate for some interesting photo’s. Not wanting to risk the dangers of crossing the bridge, a far easier option was to head to a public footbridge a little further south, used mainly to access a cable car station. This put us directly onto the private road leading into the works. Naturally is was barricaded but the river was low enough to walk along the bank and gain access to the grounds.

We spent a couple of hours exploring the decaying buildings, some decorated with excellent graffiti. Danger is always present in such decrepit sites, and this came with the added bonus of access to a disused lead mine. Side Mine, as it is officially known, was worked in the 1800’s and also opened for a limited time as a show cavern. If I was still in my teens, I would have had no hesitation donning hard hat and discovering what lay in the depths of the tunnels. However, exploring just a short way in revealed that there had been a collapse in more recent times – enormous boulders had sheared away from the roof. Clearly unsafe but fascinating all the same, we retreated to the relative safety of factory.

The site is for sale as a development opportunity therefore its tenure is approaching end of life. Whether this comes as a natural consequence, or it is put out of its misery by means of contractors bulldozers is uncertain. But for now, the decaying relic of past industry has a strange appeal.