Pictures of
British Non-Ferrous Mines

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Picture 1
The Cwmystwith Lead and Silver Mine
As seen on  10 June 2000

"How gray was my valley". This sprawling complex of adits beside the infant waters of the Afon Ystwith began in the 17th Century Mines Royal silver boom but reached its climax in the latter 1800's. The rectangular foundations of the 1893 corrugated iron crusher base can be seen at center left with the Manager's House ruin in the distance. This and other Mid-Wales crushers were typically hydro- or hydro-electrically powered due to the high cost of coal up these remote valleys: It was sometimes asserted that Cynon Valley coal was cheaper in California than Rhayader. Mining ceased around 1916 and the still-standing crusher house was dismantled c1988 for safety reasons.

     Cartographic Coordinates
     X:280300m Y:274800m    52:21:29N,3:45:32W    SN803747

Picture 2
The Gwynfynydd No.6 Level
As seen on  12 July 2001

Sequestered deep within the forest fastnesses of the Coed y Brennin the Gwynfynydd Gold Mine is historically one of Britain's most prolific sources of that splendid metal, bringing premium gold to grass for Tregoron's ethnic jewellers and showing tourists underground for 10 ( $16 ) a visit. It was mothballed in 1999.

     Cartographic Coordinates
     X:273600m Y:327800m    52:49:57N,3:52:37W    SH736277

Picture 3
The Old Gwynfynydd Penstock
As seen on  12 July 2001

Romantically sited beside the peat-stained falls of the Afon Mawddwy this superb Edwardian steelwork snakes its way to a pit where a Francis turbine powered the Gwynfynydd crusher mill that comminuted the auriferous quartz from adjacent levels. The turbine has long been removed and the derelict mill burnt down in 1935.

     Cartographic Coordinates
     X:273500m Y:327500m    52:49:48N,3:52:42W    SH735274

Picture 4
The Llechfraith Adit, Bontddu, Merionethshire
As seen on  12 July 2001

Llechfraith is one of the main series of Welsh gold workings within the Clogau Shales on the periphery of The Harlech Dome volcanic complex. Most of the mines, strung along the wooded ravine of the Bontddu river are derelict, but Llechfraith is maintained in readiness: The Clogau Mines specialise in providing gold for British royal ceremonies. The mine is not publicised, and sightseers are discouraged.

     Cartographic Coordinates
     X:266800m Y:319500m    52:45:23N,3:58:32W    SH667194

Picture 5
The Tankerville Mine Chimney and Engine House
As seen on  22 August 1996

This chimney of c1867, a superb example of the bricklayer's art, continues to grace the Earl of Tankerville's lead and silver mines complex at Stiperstones village, Shropshire, about three miles within the English border. The second most prolific lead mine of the Shelve Province ( Ordovician shales ) ( "clayrocks" to you youngsters! ) it was something of a Victorian Golconda, but closed in 1893. Just to the right, covered in ivy, you can discern the Walker Shaft pumping engine house.

     Cartographic Coordinates
     X:335400m Y:299500m    52:35:21N,2:57:16W    SO354994

Picture 6
The Tankerville Chimney and Walker Shaft Rig
As seen on  4 July 2001

A close up of that wonderful chimney after repointing in c1998. At the same time the engine house was stripped of its ivy and the site tidied, whilst Shropshire Caving and Mining Club rigged the black steel headframe to facilitate safe descent of the Walker Shaft into the Stiperstones gallery labyrinth.

     Cartographic Coordinates
     X:335400m Y:299500m    52:35:21N,2:57:16W    SO354994

Picture 7
The Lords Hill Lead Smelter Chimney
As seen on  17 August 1995

Another fantastic Victorian brick chimney on the Stiperstones hills. This one crowns Lords Hill immediately South of the extensive complex of shafts and ruins at Snailbeach, Shropshire's biggest non-ferrous mine which was allegedly started by the Romans and ceased production in 1957. From the lead smelter at Minsterley in the valley about three miles North of the chimney, furnace gases were lead through a brick flue laid along the ground to rise at this point. This was to trap volatile metallic condensates, both for economic efficiency ( 40% of the lead might be recovered this way ) and for environmental protection.

     Cartographic Coordinates
     X:337400m Y:301900m    52:36:42N,2:55:33W    SJ374019

Picture 8
The Ladywell Engine House, Hope Valley
As seen on  17 August 1995

Marking a minor mine of the Shelve Plateau, Ladywell's expensively-built engine house has stood sentinel over the Hope Valley for nearly 150 winters. Note the deep slot in the face of the building, just this side of the far wall. This was to accommodate the widely-arcing connecting rod to the crank of the winding drum. This picture shows the ruins before their recent stabilisation.

     Cartographic Coordinates
     X:332800m Y:299200m    52:35:11N,2:59:38W    SO327991

Picture 9
The Magpie Mine, Sheldon, Derbyshire
As seen on  10 March 1997

This dramatic group of lead mine buildings is romantically sited on a windswept plateau of Dinantian blue limestone, part of The White Peak District in Central England. The White Peak has been famous since Roman times for its high-quality, silver-free, malleable lead: ideal for the building trade. White Peak lead production finally ceased in 1999 with the mothballing of the Great Hucklow Flourspar Mines of Laporte Industries plc. The Peak's most prolific mine at Mill Close, Darley Dale, closed when it flooded in 1938. The Magpie Mine developed in its present form in the mid 18th Century but despite major injections of cash and engineering between 1860-1885 it never brought more than a total of a few hundred tons of galena to grass. The black steel headstock over the 728 feet deep Magpie Main Shaft of 1823 dates from a 1957 episode when some New Zealanders attempted to revive the mine. The Magpie Founder Shaft of the 17th Century sinks just this side of the Agent's House privy in the extreme center left of the photograph. The other elements of the architectural group are the square-sectioned, limestone winding-engine chimney to the left of about 1840: And to the right of the Agent's House, Taylor's Cornish Engine House of about 1869 with its round, earlier, brick-topped chimney of about 1840-41. The Magpie Mine is the Field Headquarters of The Peak District Mines Historical Society and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The ruin is highly atmospheric even in Summer sunlight, and the site of several murders. It is of course haunted!

     Cartographic Coordinates
     X:417300m Y:368000m    53:12:32N,1:44:33W    SK173680

Picture 10
The Winding Engine Flue and Chimney, Magpie Mine
As seen on  10 March 1997

This superterranean flue looks like a sublimate trap, but don't be fooled! The square chimney abutted the original winding house but when the latter was re-erected fifty meters westward the flue was constructed to connect the new premises with the old chimney.

     Cartographic Coordinates
     X:417200m Y:368100m    53:12:36N,1:44:36W    SK172681

Picture 11
The Old Winding House, Ecton, Staffordshire
As seen on  14 August 1995

In part of the 18th Century the Ecton Copper Mines were Europe's richest and sunk by far the World's deepest shafts of the era, some 2000 feet or 700 meters, from the top of a small mountain to a thousand feet below the bed of the nearby Manifold river. The thousand feet of levels below the water table were drained by a "fire engine" installed hundreds of feet underground. The mines earned their owner the Duke of Devonshire many millions sterling and he used part of the profits to build a fashionable new town at Buxton. But one of his scions seemed to prefer London, so he went to Clapham and discovered hydrogen. The first transatlantic telegraph cable was spun of Ecton copper. This view, from above the Dutchman Mine, shows the Ecton Engine House of 1788 that contained a primitive Boulton and Watt fusee engine, removed in 1855. This employed a conical winding drum, like a contemporary watch escapement, designed to maintain a constant force of resistance upon the engine's feeble mechanism as the heavy kibble chain paid out down the 240-meter Engine Shaft. Further to assist the little engine a massive chain-fed counterweight inhabited that revetted conical structure you can discern on the hillside just to the left of the building. To the North the tree-speckled parks of darkest Staffordshire march away from this far South-Western redoubt of The White Peak. Twenty years ago you could pick up weathered samples of chalcopyrite and azurite beside the engine house: Alas no longer.

     Cartographic Coordinates
     X:409900m Y:358300m    53:07:17N,1:51:10W    SK099582

Picture 12
The Knockerdown Tavern, Carsington, Derbyshire
As seen on  17 August 2000

Celebrating the ancient tradition of lead winning on Carsington Common, this roadside pub is within whistling of the new reservoir which drowns the ancient Roman smelting town of Lutudarum. The word "knockerdown" has obvious connotations of overhand stoping but the refulgent genius shown scything the flowers of the living rock to the end of eternity reminds us that this is Germanic Europe and the hills are alive with "knockers" and cognate spirits who guide or cheat the miner at whim. No-one has found either cobalt or nickel hereabouts but there is a Nickalum Mine up on the Common, and Nick and Lud still loiter The White Peak as they did when the Romans paid them obeisance. In the Anglo-Saxon parts of England a "down" is literally a rounded limestone hill.

     Cartographic Coordinates
     X:423300m Y:351900m    53:03:51N,1:39:12W    SK233519