Behind the Picture

Magpie Mine

The picture was taken at Magpie Mine Sheldon Derbyshire.

I went out just for a drive around the Peak District to see if I could fine anywhere for a Light Painting project I am putting together, driving around the back roads of Sheldon I spotted Magpie Mine to my left, I pulled the car over and walked the 200 yards or so from the road to the old abandoned mine.  

Few of us who visit the beautiful Peak District realise just how much of the landscape has been shaped by thousands of years of lead mining history. The Peak District orefield was one of the largest and richest in Britain, and copper was being mined at Ecton using tools made of bone as far back as the Bronze Age (2000 to 1500BC). However, it was the mining of lead which was the most important industry in the Peak from Roman times until the 19th century – with only agriculture being more important for the livelihood of local people. The height of lead mining in Derbyshire came in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the evidence is still visible today – most obviously in the form of lines of hillocks from the more than 25,000 mineshafts which once existed. Less common features such as steam engine houses and larger mine buildings from the later years of the industry can also be seen.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

by Chris Walls Photography

The above picture was taken looking from the south to the north of the mine head gear.

by Chris Walls Photography

What to See 

Every era of working has left its mark on the Magpie Mine site. The adjacent circular chimney was built in 1840 to serve an earlier engine, but then re-used. The same has happened elsewhere on the site: the square chimney was also built in 1840 to serve a winding engine of which all trace has now disappeared. A flue was built to connect the chimney to the 1869 horizontal winding engine, easily identified by the winding drum on the outside of the engine house. Just in front of the Cornish Engine House is the Main Shaft, marked by the steel headgear and cage dating from the 1950’s operation. The corrugated iron shed housed the winder and has the distinction of being one of only three corrugated iron buildings in the country to be accorded Scheduled Monument status.
North of the Cornish Engine House is the circular powder house (1840), whilst to the east a replica horse gin has been erected on the Redsoil Engine Shaft. Another gin circle can be found at the western extremity of the site, serving the original Shuttlebark Engine Shaft (1760). There are numerous shafts on the site: all have been capped, and there is no access underground. However, on a bright day it is possible to look through the grille on the Main Shaft and see the water 175m below. The shaft is flooded for a further 47m.

The Agent’s House and adjacent Smithy were built in the 1840’s. They have recently been renovated, and are used as the Field Centre of the Peak District Mines Historical Society.
How to get there :Magpie Mine is about 5km west of Bakewell, at Grid Ref. SK173682. The access track is a private road, and cars must be parked at the roadside. Several public footpaths cross the site, allowing access on foot from Kirkdale, Sheldon village, and Hard Rake. There are no restrictions on opening times.
The mouth of the Sough is on the south bank of the River Wye at SK180698, about 1.5km west of Ashford-in-the-Water. Park in the lay-by on the A6 and use the path over the river at the side of Shacklow Mill, or follow the path alongside the river from the bottom of Kirkdale. 


Posted in The Story Behind The Picture.

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