The former landmark Butterley Engineering Works site has finally been put on the market after the factory was demolished nearly five years ago.
The Ripley and District Heritage Trust (RDHT), a small group intent upon recording and retaining what is left of Ripley’s history, would like to see the core of the Butterley site developed as a hub of industrial archaeology for the area.
The site on Butterley Row was put up for sale at the beginning of this month for £1,650,000.
Trust member Robert Grasar said: “It is often not recognised that if Benjamin Outram had not set up the company in 1790, Ripley as we know it would not exist. The Butterley Company was of world renown in its day and often at the forefront of technological development.
“The RDHT would like to see the 1838 Pattern Shop opposite the reservoir developed as a community asset with tourist information, office, display and learning facilities for the various local heritage groups and as a much needed function space for the town.”
The site of the former Butterley Engineering works was closed in 2009 and was demolished in November of the same year.
Butterley was involved in many major projects - providing the iron work for St Pancras Station in London.
“The Machine Shop, the building fronting Butterley Hill, which retains an air of grandeur within, still has within it the internal structure for the hoists and overhead crane tracks once vital to its function; it and the immediately adjacent buildings would be suitable for small heritage engineering businesses,” Robert said.
The site is not within a conservation area or green belt but it does contain historical monuments, the Butterley Works blast furnaces, Cromford canal tunnel and an underground wharf.
Adjacent to the site is the Carr Wood Local Nature Reserve, with Butterley Reservoir to the north and to the east is a residential development, completed by Morris Homes.
“The northern section of the site has two listed buildings and therefore the majority of the other existing structures are afforded at least a degree of protection under the law,” Robert added.
“The high wall forming the eastern boundary of the site is also a scheduled ancient monument and holds much of the early history of the site including the remains of the earliest blast furnaces.
“There are still substantial culverts under the northern section, fed from the reservoir and used variously for cooling the blast furnaces and other plants on site. These would warrant archaeological investigation and indeed demand discovery prior to any development.”
The sale of the site is being managed by FHP Living, who last week told the Ripley and Heanor News there has already been substantial interest.
The Ripley and District Heritage Trust are determined to see something good come of the sale.
Robert said: “This would be an ambitious project but if nothing is done the likelihood is that all but the protected structures will be gone and the possibility of a substantial addition to both local tourism and the local economy will be lost forever.”
Should any readers wish to find out more about the RDHT, or become a member, visit their website at www.rdht.org.uk.