Eyam is not only associated with the plague. It has been a place linked to important local
industries. Lead was foundin earlier times - it occurs in limestone areas and much mining
took place in the area. There are still spoil heaps from this activity in fields around the
village and laws associated with this industry still apply to the area with the continued
existence of what is called the Barmote Court which meets every year. This court
consisting of 12 jurymen, a steward and Barmaster and decides on lead royalties and
mining rights found in the area.
Then there is quarrying which is still a thriving industry in the area. Cotton spinning also featured and there are various cottages associated with this in the village. It was replaced by the silk industry. A process for printing silk on both sides of a piece was invented in Eyam. Another important industry found in the village was boot and shoe manufacture, with over 200 people employed at the end of the 19th century. This industry still exists in a factory at Stoney Middleton, the next village to Eyam.
The other key industry linked to Eyam was the processing of fluorspar. Fluorspar is a waste by-product associated with lead mining and was found together with a local mineral called barytes, to be highly useful in connection with tin smelting and also for use with the new open hearth furnaces coming into use in America in the early part of the 20th century. Large quantities of these materials were exported to America until high tarriffs put a stop to that. A process of distillation of fluorspar was invented at Eyam. This process resulted in 70% of the high-grade fluorspar required for the war effort in the Second World War being produced at Eyam.
by George May