Bonsall Leys lead workings, Derbyshire, April 2021

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HughieD

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1. The History
The Bonsall Leys are small-scale lead workings situated in Derbyshire where lead mining first took place back in the 1540s when it was called Whitelow mines. Extraction of the lead ore, called galena, was done through the use of pickaxes, and then brought to the surface from processing. This continued right up until the 19th century and the workings on Bonsall Moor are characterised by a small scale and the low-technology approach to extract the extremely shallow ore bodies.

The underground mining at Bonsall Leys (or Lees) created an extensive number of mineshaft and below-ground workings. Other remains include ruined structures, earthworks, and buried remains of the lead mining area, along with two rusting cranes from the more recent fluorspar mining activity at the site. The opencast approach has created shallow pits and opencuts with at least ten parallel rakes or “scrims” (shallow opencut workings following a vein close to the surface) still easily identifiable. The rakes are approximately 1-2m deep, 2m wide and up to 40m long. They were most likely worked by early smallholder-miners working the area in teams, reinforced by the scarcity of “coes” (small storage buildings). A few older large vertical shafts also remain, some up to 30m in depth cutting earlier opencut features and now capped off with old concrete railway sleepers.

A note on the cranes: manufactured by R. H. Neal & Co. Based in the Lincolnshire market town of Grantham the company was founded in Ealing 1918. In Grantham they were based on Dysart Rd close to where I spent the first three years of my life! Going public in 1952, they were then taken over by Henry J Coles in 1959.

The larger crane with its boom on the ground is a NEAL Rapid Mobilecrane (with JAP engine) and dates back to the 1920s, representing one of the company’s early models. The smaller crane with boom still in the air also dates back to the 1920s and is a NEAL AM Crane Hoist.

2. The Explore
I didn’t really have much expectation about this place beyond that it had two very photogenic rusting cranes in a field. In the end it turned out to be a really interesting place with a few remnants of its past if you looked carefully. The shafts were all capped off so no underground exploration, but a relaxing was to wend away half an hour or so.

3. The Pictures

img0438 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img0430 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Firstly, on to the smaller of the two cranes:

Bonsal Leys 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Maker plate with some of the original green paint of it:

Bonsal Leys 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Back axle:

img0394 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Looking down one of the many sleeper-covered shafts. This one is quite deep:

Bonsal Leys 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And another:

Bonsal Leys 09 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 19 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This one was pretty shallow:

Bonsal Leys 08 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And some pictures of the many rakes or “scrims”:

img0402 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img0419 by HughieDW, on Flickr

On to the larger crane:

Bonsal Leys 13 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 10 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 15 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 18 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And its back plate:

Bonsal Leys 12 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 18 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img0412 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Random crane bucket:

Bonsal Leys 16 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And piece of rail:

img0426 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And finally, one last classic shot the smaller crane:

Bonsal Leys 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And a side profile of the larger one:

img0435 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 

Wrench

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1. The History
The Bonsall Leys are small-scale lead workings situated in Derbyshire where lead mining first took place back in the 1540s when it was called Whitelow mines. Extraction of the lead ore, called galena, was done through the use of pickaxes, and then brought to the surface from processing. This continued right up until the 19th century and the workings on Bonsall Moor are characterised by a small scale and the low-technology approach to extract the extremely shallow ore bodies.

The underground mining at Bonsall Leys (or Lees) created an extensive number of mineshaft and below-ground workings. Other remains include ruined structures, earthworks, and buried remains of the lead mining area, along with two rusting cranes from the more recent fluorspar mining activity at the site. The opencast approach has created shallow pits and opencuts with at least ten parallel rakes or “scrims” (shallow opencut workings following a vein close to the surface) still easily identifiable. The rakes are approximately 1-2m deep, 2m wide and up to 40m long. They were most likely worked by early smallholder-miners working the area in teams, reinforced by the scarcity of “coes” (small storage buildings). A few older large vertical shafts also remain, some up to 30m in depth cutting earlier opencut features and now capped off with old concrete railway sleepers.

A note on the cranes: manufactured by R. H. Neal & Co. Based in the Lincolnshire market town of Grantham the company was founded in Ealing 1918. In Grantham they were based on Dysart Rd close to where I spent the first three years of my life! Going public in 1952, they were then taken over by Henry J Coles in 1959.

The larger crane with its boom on the ground is a NEAL Rapid Mobilecrane (with JAP engine) and dates back to the 1920s, representing one of the company’s early models. The smaller crane with boom still in the air also dates back to the 1920s and is a NEAL AM Crane Hoist.

2. The Explore
I didn’t really have much expectation about this place beyond that it had two very photogenic rusting cranes in a field. In the end it turned out to be a really interesting place with a few remnants of its past if you looked carefully. The shafts were all capped off so no underground exploration, but a relaxing was to wend away half an hour or so.

3. The Pictures

img0438 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img0430 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Firstly, on to the smaller of the two cranes:

Bonsal Leys 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Maker plate with some of the original green paint of it:

Bonsal Leys 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Back axle:

img0394 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Looking down one of the many sleeper-covered shafts. This one is quite deep:

Bonsal Leys 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And another:

Bonsal Leys 09 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 19 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This one was pretty shallow:

Bonsal Leys 08 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And some pictures of the many rakes or “scrims”:

img0402 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img0419 by HughieDW, on Flickr

On to the larger crane:

Bonsal Leys 13 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 10 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 15 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 18 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And its back plate:

Bonsal Leys 12 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bonsal Leys 18 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img0412 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Random crane bucket:

Bonsal Leys 16 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And piece of rail:

img0426 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And finally, one last classic shot the smaller crane:

Bonsal Leys 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And a side profile of the larger one:

img0435 by HughieDW, on Flickr
Rather nice shots there sir.
You did some good research there too
 

Hayman

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How fast was NEAL'S "RAPID" CRANE? Slow enough to need the quotation marks, in case of being sued? Nice to see the apostrophe.
 

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