Old Mining Photographs

January 23, 2015 | 0 Comments | Filed under: 2015, February 2015

At their January meeting, Tideswell Local History Club was given a talk by Axel Chatburn where the ‘Stars of the Show’ were unrepeatable, 50 –60 year old Kodachrome slides of mining sites and ancient machinery, long since swept away in the quest for fluorspar. Being a mining enthusiast for many decades Axel, with his photographs was able to show us how things were done generations ago.

We saw pictures of the ‘Hotching Jig’ up at Hazard Mine, Castleton. This used a form of up and down sieving action in water, which could separate the heavy lead ore from the lighter spar material.

Two chimneys (no longer existing) were shown at the New Engine Mine above a 1092 ft. shaft near Eyam and the magnificent Watergrove chimney above Wardlow, which had beautifully dressed gritstone corner stones. The destruction of this building was one of the gelling forces which caused mining enthusiasts to form the Peak District Mines Historical Society. Axel, as a young lad, went with his father to these inaugural meetings and years later he became chairman of the Society. His dad had been one of the team who discovered the very sporting Nettle Pot cave above Castleton. He also created two wonderful scale-models of horse-driven lead working machines which are still on display to this day.

The old way of hauling ore out of a mine was by winding a bucket up the shaft by means of a ‘stowes’ (like an old-fashioned mangle) and we were shown a superb photograph of a ‘stowes’ near Snitterton above Matlock. Being made of wood, this will have long-since perished. Underground, the miner stacked his waste above his head on ‘stemples’ (wooden beams across the vein, which of course rotted with time). One 50-year-old photograph showed this fearsome arrangement exposed to daylight at Long Rake Mine at Youlgreave.

At Watergrove Mine engine shaft, an ancient Newcomen steam engine had been employed to pump water out of the rich ‘flat’ workings below. Axel showed us a slide of this beautiful oval shaft with its drystone lining and with a modern steel pipe going down to water level to pump water up to Laportes mineral separation plant at Cavendish Mill.

A truly historical evening! Thanks to Axel for a great piece of mining nostalgia and please look after those priceless slides. Everyone is invited to join us on February 12th in the Institute at 8pm when Danny Wells will be telling us of the ‘Fascination of Churches’.


Brian Woodall


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