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Logo: Tom Bates, Derbyshire Local Histrory writer  
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Peak District Products - From Derbyshire with Love!

Posted Saturday, July 7, 2007

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Peak Products - From Derbyshire with Love!

With Christmas seemingly always just around the corner and the choice of gifts appearing to grow more difficult each year despite an ever increasing range and variety on offer, why not choose something unique to Derbyshire?

`From Derbyshire With Love'

Though it may narrow down your options considerably, it would certainly add the words `considerate’ and `thoughtful’ to your personal resume - if your gift came from Derbyshire with love!

Alternatively you could treat yourself to some rare and unusual gifts which carry the regal seal of approval of Her Grace the Duchess of Devonshire, - gifts which are specially crafted in Derbyshire by a unique group of skilled local artists and craftsmen under the banner of Peak District Products.

Whatever the season or the occasion you can be assured that Derbyshire has a top quality artist or talented craftsman to fulfil your requirements with a unique locally made product that would make an ideal gift, so here are some innovative ideas for that special present.

How about a bottle or two of Sir Reresby Sitwell’s wine, made from grapes grown at his Renishaw vineyard, - and whilst raising a glass this festive season, designed and produced by Dema Glass of Chesterfield, why not complement it with a chunk of Stilton cheese from Hartington, served on a plate made at Denby Pottery, or more locally at Rookes Pottery of Hartington?

If you feel the desire to be up, up and away this Christmas, or you want to get really high for the New Year - you can even buy yourself a hang-glider made in the Hope Valley at Bradwell by Avian Ltd, or rent a hot-air balloon from Heart of England Balloons at Wensley.

But perhaps the most famous products that spring immediately to mind as being unique to Derbyshire are Blue John jewellery, Ashford Black Marble and Bakewell Puddings, - and whilst you may think that the latter is a rather strange gift to be sending someone, you would be surprised to learn that this local delicacy is delivered by post to all parts of the country from Bakewell – and even overseas!

Ashford black marble is a dark fine grained limestone, which when polished takes on a jet black gloss. These days it is extremely collectable and found mainly in antique shops or privately advertised, - for Henry Watson’s famous mill at Ashford-in-the-Water closed almost a century ago. As early as 1580 Bess of Hardwick, herself always loyal to local products used Ashford marble for the chimney piece in Hardwick Hall’s Great Chamber and three centuries of local production saw the manufacture of such ornaments as tables, vases, paperweights, snuff-boxes and jewellery.

Blue John is so scarce that only jewellery and small trinkets can now be manufactured from the diminishing mineral deposits found nowhere else in the entire world other than at Castleton. Blue John is a banded type of fluorite found only beneath Treak Cliff Hill in the famous Blue John Cavern which is open to visitors and in Treak Cliff Cavern, from where it is still extracted. Here is the largest remaining single piece of Blue John, a six foot thick pillar weighing about fifteen tons! Blue John is still traditionally worked into gold and silver jewellery by highly skilled craftsmen at the Castleton workshops of Blue John Stone Jewellers, with retail outlets in Castleton at the Speedwell Cavern, Greystones, Toll Bar, and Harrison & Harrison.

So if your loved one happens to be a miserable sod whose name is John, then what better or more appropriate gift than an item of Blue John jewellery!

There is leather footwear to be had from Lennon’s of Stoney Middleton and the Factory Shop of Peaklander Footwear at Calver,- and socks, stockings and knitwear from Smedley’s Factory Shop at Lea Mills near Holloway.

If fine art is on your shopping list then you can get everything from a specially commissioned painting to a doll’s house at Derbyshire Fine Art of Holymoorside, - or how about a pair of wrought iron candlesticks? - just one item of many made to order by a traditional blacksmith at the Packhorse Forge in Bakewell.

However, if you are looking for a selection of excellent quality locally produced goods together under one roof, then the Tourist Information Centre in the Market Hall, Bakewell is the place for you. Here is a new Gallery and central base for Peak District Products, where members goods are exhibited and sold seven days a week.

Founded in 1991 P.D.P. is a group of professional quality selected Arts, Crafts and Food Producers who are based in the Peak District.

National Park Tourism studies highlighted the importance of craft-based businesses and speciality food producers to create rural employment and sustainable tourism, and P.D.P. aims to bring together and raise public awareness of local, skilled, talented, top quality artists and crafts people who take pride in their work and who are committed to providing distinctive high-quality local goods and to maintaining the rural economy.

So if you’re thinking of sending someone special something extra-special this festive season, why not send a Peak District Product from Derbyshire with love? This is what the P.D.P. President, Her Grace The Duchess of Devonshire has to say:

“ I often hear it said that there are no craftsmen now. A look through the variety of Peak District Products members will show you that there are still people around prepared to take the time and trouble to produce quality goods in traditional ways. Members have exhibited at Chatsworth Country Fair and many other venues where their products have sold world wide”.

“Our food producers have a special role to play. The quality of their goods is of the utmost importance at a time when there is so much concern about food. So whether you are a visitor to this part of the country or are fortunate enough to live here, I hope that you will discover the delicious local foods and superb arts and crafts that Peak District Products has to offer”.

An annual brochure listing all P.D.P. members is available from Tourist Information Centres and the Peak National Park office at Aldern House, Bakewell.

Happy festive shopping, and remember, do not drink and drive – unless of course, it’s Buxton Spa Water!

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