Book review: Derbyshire Blue John (2nd edition), by Trevor Ford

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Jon Trevelyan (UK)

This is a new edition of the classic little guide on Blue John by Trevor Ford, who has now sadly passed away. It is published by the East Midlands Geology Society and has been revised, updated and expanded by Trevor’s colleagues, Tony Waltham and Noel Worley. The guide provides a comprehensive overview of the geology and mineralogy of Blue John fluorite from the Castleton, Treak Cliff area of Derbyshire and also provides a description of its mining in the past and today, and its use in the production of ornaments and jewellery – both past and present.

With a forward by the Duke of Devonshire, who is the owner of many splendid examples of Blue John ornaments himself, the book covers the geological history of the Peak District and Blue John’s place within it. It also provides full colour maps and diagrams, together with some beautiful photographs of the products that have been made from this rare mineral.

Indeed, strictly speaking, Blue John can only be found in this area of Derbyshire and this is perhaps what makes it so fascinating and the guide worth reading. The chapter on the caverns and mines with Blue John present is especially interesting and certainly made me want to make a return visit. There are somewhat similar banded fluorite minerals elsewhere in the world but none to match Blue John, which now seems to be going through something of a renaissance with new seams now being mined and modern ornaments being produced. (I have cufflinks made of it and very nice they are too, although a little fragile.)

Trevor Ford was Senior Lecturer in geology and Associate Dean of Science at the University of Leicester. His research interests were mainly in the geology, minerals, mines and caves of the Derbyshire Peak District, publishing extensively on these subjects. He was also awarded an OBE for services to geology and cave science.

Tony Waltham was a senior lecturer in engineering geology at Nottingham Trent University; and Noel Worley was the Minerals and Estates Manager at British Gypsum. Both were long-standing friends and colleagues of Trevor Ford, and had promised to prepare the new edition of this long out if print guide. The book is available from

Derbyshire Blue John, by Trevor Ford, The East Midlands Geological Society, Nottingham 3rd edition (2019), 80 pages (paperback), ISBN: 978-0951971796

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