The Nenthead Mines are rather important ...
Hellen provides Bed and Breakfast accommodation in Nenthead for lots of mine explorers. There's even a special shower for mucky, muddy explorers so the rooms stay clean!! There is storage for equipment, hanging room for dirty overalls and wetsuits, and washing area for muddy kit, specimens and whatever else you might have - like muddy dogs...
These mines have been worked for several centuries possibly dating back to Roman times.
The mines are also the reason Nenthead is here...The house next to Cherry Tree Cottage was the Mine Manager's House and Office. It was also one of the first villages in the country to be lit by electric light - powered by generators run by water falling down a shaft in the village..( The mines are owned by The London Lead Company )
The mines are huge. They work veins (cracks and faults in the rock) which have resulted from earth movements over millions of years. The rocks around here are Carboniferous (very old....millions of years old in fact) and a lot of it is Limestone. Now then... if you pour acid on a limestone, it fizzes and dissolves.. That's just what happened when these cracks appeared - lots of salty, acid water went rushing through them which carried small amounts of lead and zinc which had been squished out of the surrounding sediments. The acidic groundwater dissolved some of the limestone away, and as soon as it wasn't acidic any more (cos it dissolved limestone and went flat as it were) the lead and zinc crystallised out in the cavities left in the limestone. (A bit like growing copper sulphate crystals in the school chemistry lab..)
So now we've got lots of lead (Galena) and zinc (Sphalerite) sitting in cracks and cavities in the rock. So .. they started bashing away at the outcrops of the limestone, and driving tunnels. After a good few years, and a good few million tonnes of rock, they gave up mining (about the 1940's - after digging happily away for over 200 years).
These days, the mine explorers find all sorts of Shiny Crystally things in cavities in the rocks underground - these are some of the crystally things that have been found down there - very pretty and much more than just parperweights - the Rembrandts of the Natural World...
|Galena - Wheel Flats, Smallclough Mine, Nenthead||Galena - Incline Flats, Smallclough mine, Nenthead|
There's a Heritage Centre in Nenthead, 'Ooop the track' opposite The Miners - where you can go and have a look at some of the things they used to dig the holes with, and what the old Mill used to look like. They'll also take you down a nice mine if you ask them often enough. It's called the Northern Pennines Heritage Trust they have kept the mines open and we all work together to help..
|We started here... nice 'n dry...||Then it got a bit damp....|
|Then it got even more misty and damp....||Before we came out here, about 10 hours later...
very tired and wet...
Relaxing at the Miners Arms
Now for some links to some Really Important Websites that proper mining people like Mr Mike have written about Nenthead. (He's the one in the red boiler suit in the photo )
Mr Mikes lovely Mine Explorer website, all about Nenthead. Some really fantastic photography here... he gets into the places others never reach.... :-)