Blue John legend dies on holiday

Blue John luminary Peter Harrison has died aged 89.

Tuesday, 26th July 2016, 12:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th July 2016, 1:19 pm
Peter Harrison. Picture submitted.

Mr Harrison - whose family has operated Treak Cliff Cavern in Castleton for more than 70 years - passed away while on holiday in Austria.

When his family took over the running of the attraction in 1945, 19-year-old Mr Harrison became a Blue John stone miner and learned the art of crafting the delicate stone into spectacular goblets and jewellery.

Throughout the intervening years, Blue John stone has continued to be mined at Treak Cliff Cavern and is still handcrafted in the small workshop on site using the same techniques Mr Harrison learned 70 years previously.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Peter Harrison. Picture submitted.

Mr Harrison handed over the running of Treak Cliff Cavern to his daughter Vicky Turner a number of years ago.

She said: "My dad's passing has come as quite a shock. He was still active and in reasonably good health for his years. He was enjoying a holiday in Austria when he felt unwell, fell and hit his head. He was rushed into hospital but unfortunately died. Dad was still going underground well into his 80s. He'd make the trek up the hill and accompany the miners underground to see the latest finds."

Mr Harrison and Treak Cliff Cavern made news headlines around the world in 2013 when a lost deposit of Blue John stone was found after 70 years.

Beyond the world of Blue John, Mr Harrison was an active member of the Castleton village community.

Peter Harrison. Picture submitted.

Mrs Turner added: "He was very interested in the history of Castleton and wrote down many of his memories. The whole village is sad and shocked at his sudden death."

Mr Harrison's funeral will take place at St Edmunds Church in Castleton at 12pm on Wednesday, August 3. Treak Cliff Cavern will be closed to visitors for the day.

He is survived by his wife Anne, daughters Vicky and Kay and grandchildren John and Elizabeth.