Saturday, 21 July 2018

A Trip to the Magpie Mine

A general view of the Magpie Mine

After a couple of busy days in February this year, giving a talk to Aston-cum-Aughton History Group and leading the Sheffield U3A Geology Group around Sheffield city centre to look at its building stones, the cold weather and snow put paid to exploring for the next month. 

The Agent's House and Smithy

On a bright but very cold day in March, with a biting wind, the group reconvened at the Magpie Mine in the Peak District National Park, which was the last working lead mine in the Derbyshire ore field until it closed in 1951. 

At the start of the tour

All of the shafts and entrances to the mines are capped and there is no entry to the mine and the main attraction of the site is to wander around the site to appreciate the remains of the engine house, chimneys, miscellaneous buildings and the winding gear, which make it probably the best preserved example of a 19th century lead mine in the UK, for which it merits ancient Scheduled Monument status. 

The winding gear

With no access available to the various buildings, the group was led around the site by Keith Gregory of the Peak District Mines Historical Society, who provided an explanation of its history and told us various tales about of bitter disputes and fights resulting in the “murder” of three miners, and a Widows’ Curse that is said to remain to this day. 

An old winch

As an example of industrial heritage, the Magpie Mine is a fine site and is a very popular tourist attraction; however, as I had realised when exploring various parts of the Sheffield Round Walk the previous year – such as Ecclesall Woods and the Porter Valley – industrial archaeology doesn’t greatly appeal to me and, instead of listening intently to our guide, I just enjoyed being outside in the fresh air and taking a few photographs of the day.

Grindstones made from Carboniferous limestone and Millstone Grit

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