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The park was formerly part of the Alderwasley Hall Estate owned by the Hurt family. The Hurts were at one time major landowners owning some 3000 acres.  One of the last of the family to live at Alderwasley Hall described his recreation as “hunting” in WhosWho.  Part of the estate (including Alderwasley Hall) was sold by the Hurts in 1928 but there were subsequent sales both at auction and private treaty which resulted in the break up of the estate. In the course of the 1930s the main part of Shining Cliff Woods was given to the National Trust but much of the area had previously been owned by timber merchants who felled most if not all the useable trees.  The north eastern end of Shining Cliff Woods and the bottom part of the deer park to Alderwasley Hall including Alderwasley mill on Pendleton Brook  were acquired by Henry George (who died in 1943) and his son (died 1979) in the 1930s. Since the 1930s much has been done to re-establish the natural woodland and trees to the extent that some of the woodland has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Efforts continue to prevent the spread of Himalayan Balsam and also to cut back Rhododendrons and Bracken.

The mill was last operated in about 1912 by the Bowmer family but was damaged during the First World War when explosives were used to extract for scrap the mill wheel and machinery.  This mill was adapted for use as a dwelling in the early 1940s and is now in the course of renovation.

For those interested in the history of the Hurt family and the devolution of the estate both before and after they became owners it may be useful to refer to the following:-

The Hurts of Derbyshire by Derek Wain (the Landmark Collector’s Library)  

Duffield Frith by Mary Wiltshire and others (the Landmark Collector’s Library)

A Google search against “Shining Cliff Woods” and the Wikipedia entry is a useful starting point.  The name “Shining Cliff” is apparently derived from an escarpment near the former Youth Hostel and not from the spreading Rhododendron bushes (believed to have been introduced in the late nineteenth century) which were  a blaze of colour in spring before being cut back by the Forestry Commission when it took a lease of the Woods

From about the time of purchase by the Henry George (who lived in the Estate or Middle Lodge prior to his death in 1943) tents were allowed to use the park area for camping as a refuge from busy urban life in the countryside.  Later the site was used by early caravanners and owners of coach built motor homes. These users on occasion brought with them servants who camped in tents nearby.  During the Second World at the request of the War Department the land was used to provide holiday facilities for Polish Air Force officers serving with the RAF and other RAF personnel.  In consequence when the Town and Country Planning Regime was introduced after the War there was established use permitting use of the land as a caravan and tent site.  Such use has continued ever since managed by a member of the George family (presently Henry George) with the assistance of others.

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