Magpie Mine, Sheldon, Derbyshire
High on the Limestone White Peak of Derbyshire you are bound to stumble across the signs of old Lead and Fluorspar Mines. Of all I guess that Magpie Mine is one of the most significant of this industry now long gone. It is hard for us to truly imagine just how industrialised this now tranquil landscape, part of the Peak District National Park, once was.
It was the Romans who first established the trading wealth of lead ore that could be mined from the area. So for many centuries that followed lead mining became an important industrial way of life for this part of Derbyshire.
Indeed it was a way of life. Many mines were owned by the farmer on who’s land the minerals were to be found. It was a very valuable find, so in many cases they would build their farmhouse/home directly over the mines entrance shaft. This was so they could give it 24 hour protection. As the industry grew and mechanisation began to arrive that practise became impractical. Steam and water powered pump and winding house were need to cope with the expansion so it became more intensive and commercialised.
I am told that directly below Magpie mine there was, and still is, a network of tunnels…not all from the same mine. At times tunnels would cross, break into each other. This obviously caused dispute over ownership. Indeed one group of miners in an attempt to ‘smoke out’ trespassers set a fire in one of the shafts. It had murderous consequences.
Today were are left with an evocative reminder of our industrial past.
Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other
(C) David Oakes 2020