Magpie Mine, Derbyshire, May 2019

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People's Republic of South Yorkshire.
1. The History
Magpie Mine is just South of Sheldon in the Peak District, Derbyshire. The mine is located on the junction of the Magpie, Bole and the Butts veins, and was only one of several mines exploiting these three veins. The first records of the mine date back to 1795 the workings here probably go back much further than to around the 1740s. It finally ceased operations relatively recently, back in 1958. The 1950s saw little lead mined and a far cry from its heyday in the mid-19th Century.

The proximity of other mines often led to disputes. Magpie Mine and the Red Soil mine disputed the rights to the Bole Vein on which they both lay. Tragically this led to the death of three miners from the Red Soil Mine in 1833 when they were suffocated underground when miners from Magpie mine lit a fire to try to drive the men out of the opposing mine. Twenty-four Magpie miners were put on trial for murder with three miners then put on trial, only to be acquitted. A ‘Widows' Curse that is said to remain to this day.

Mining was an up and down business. In the early 1840s the mine was very profitable only to close in 1846 until 1868. John Taylor, the famous Cornish mining engineer, was then brought in to re-open the mine and a large Cornish pumping engine installed in 1869, as water was a problem in the mine. Other innovations he introduced included steel borers, safety hats, safety fuse, and iron winding ropes.

As the price of lead fell, the costs of pumping the water from the mine made the mine unprofitable. Hence a sough (a drainage tunnel) was built between 1873 and 1881 at a cost of £18,000 (although some reports put it at closer to £35,000). This was no easy task given since the rock was mostly 'toadstone' (a variety of basalt and very hard). The sough enabled the mineshaft to be extended beyond 700 feet, but the mine never returned to profit and closed in 1883. The sough trail can be visited by following the footpath from Kirk Dale along the south bank of the River Wye for about half a mile.

It was worked again sporadically until 1923, before a limited reopening in the early 1950s before closing again in 1954. Several attempts were made to revive the mine only to be thwarted yet again by flooding, so the mine closed for good in 1958.

A number of buildings are still intact. The winding gear and engine at the site today date back to the 1950's. The wooden structure set away from the main mine buildings was a horse-drawn gin which was used to draw lead ore to the surface.

2. The Explore
Places like this delightful mine are in the grey area – the fall somewhere in between derelict and a tourist attraction. Perhaps ‘managed ruin’ is a good term. We had just called for lunch in the excellent “Cock and Pullet” pub in nearby Sheldon so it seemed rude not to pay this place a visit. It’s a relaxed wander but was very, very windy. A nice was to wend an hour in one of the loveliest spots in Derbyshire.

3. The Pictures

The Agent's House and adjacent Smithy, built in the 1840's. The square chimney (right) was built in 1840 to serve a winding engine, of which all trace has now disappeared:

47968285311_dae17587d8_b.jpgimg5653 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Winding drum on the outside of the engine house:

47967974118_cf90bbdef9_b.jpgimg1017bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

Steel headgear and cage dating from the 1950's operation:

47942196401_f5d9f0cc89_b.jpgimg1000 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47942132853_9fa3b67445_b.jpgimg1002bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

47942134812_d3769d802f_b.jpgimg1001 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47967436911_95c8ff7320_b.jpgMagpie 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47967457651_4f1828f1b4_b.jpgMagpie 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47967436338_ce66055978_b.jpgMagpie 01 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Inside the engine house:

47942148406_087b60fc2f_b.jpgimg1003 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47942097167_3eefa82c88_b.jpgimg1004 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47942087457_d085c5773d_b.jpgimg1005 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47942112006_c0d76a1dc6_b.jpgimg1008 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Circular chimney built in 1840 to serve an earlier engine:

47942082278_867a7c8449_b.jpgimg1009 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47942088201_8295d7abb0_b.jpgimg1010 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47942040933_c69519833a_b.jpgimg1016 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The circular powder house, built in 1840:

47942048768_e5670ea440_b.jpgimg1013 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47967369252_7d6b5f71d6_b.jpgMagpie 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47942088201_8295d7abb0_b.jpgimg1010 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47942072796_2075eeab13_b.jpgimg1012 by HughieDW, on Flickr
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That's,really nice mate..some real character to it. Funny enough I was going to pop here Monday coming back from Scotland but run out of time


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Apr 3, 2008
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I've heard of it a million times but never been. Too far and not much going on (I prefer darkness and the underworld!)

I think it would look good done as night photos too (your pics show some interesting bits)
Seeing mines makes me want to head below!