WINTER WORKING – November to February

Despite the winter weather, we have continued to work on site. One outstanding task was to make the Power of Water structure safer. We have removed one section of stairway and fenced the resulting gap. At the hill end of the walkway, the decking and joists have been removed and fenced off.  The steel work has been stored for a future fence round the smelting mill and the timber has gone into Carrs Mine to extend the decking. We also cleared the debris, litter, beer cans, pop bottles and other rubbish which seems to accumulate under the structure.

In Carrs Mine, we have extended the space at the zinc mining site by both removing some of the deads pile and by extending the decking walkway.  This opens up a good view of a galena vein in the level wall and gives us more space for visitors. The old safety barrier of large timbers has been taken out and stored, and has been replaced by a replica mine ventilation door.

The boiler in the Assay House has been replaced by a new boiler.  Your Trustees decided that the existing boiler was life expired. The new boiler already shows much greater heating efficiency and hot water is now readily available. A professional installer  supplied and fitted the boiler – our volunteer effort was to install the heating controls.

The smelt mill viewing seat has been cleaned and repainted – it now awaits new timber slatting. The Eimco loader has been examined and the new wheel nut fitted.

We have inspected Brewery Shaft underground and started to plan some safety enhancements.

We purchased some more archive storage boxes and now have all our plans and drawings stored and catalogued. The index to plans will soon be on our website. The NPHT meeting reports have now been sorted and filing is almost complete. Thoughts are now turning to photos and slides.

The Assay House has been regularly cleaned. We have had some  winter weekend visitors which has boosted our income.

(Click on the images for a larger view)

Measuring and cutting the timber for the Ventilation Door

Installing the Ventilation Door



End of Season Moving and Tidying

Wednesday 2nd November 2016

Dawn temperature zero and climbed to 6 at midday. No wind, blue sky, a great day to be out on the North Pennines. Graham, Alec, Steve and Pete did yet more moving and tidying downstairs in The Barracks. The Eimco and the Darlington winch are now in the middle of the floor, on boards, and can be worked on during the winter period. Our end of day task was to sort out and tidy up the welly stock. Graham and Alec also repaired the Smelting Mill safety fence where the railings had been removed by  persons unknown, probably the same people who ride mountain bikes on the site. Jim removed the old mine power connection from Carrs Shop and also took out some of the old phone connections. 

Sheila, Liz and Joyce spent the day cleaning and packing our small artefacts collection and they also reviewed our storage area and made some more space. We are planning to redesign the whole of the artefacts display during the winter closedown period.

We had a drop in visit from two eminent Coal Authority people and we also hosted a visit from the County Council team who are responsible for the electrical systems. Plans are afoot to inspect the safety of the mains distribution cables.

imgp9228The Eimco has moved, again!

The Eimco 12B jacked up on blocks


Sheila, Joyce and Liz wrapping the small artefacts.


Joyce Jackson and Sheila Barker continued the marathon task of cataloguing and sorting our archive.  We plan to upload part of the index to this website shortly. researchers will then be able to arrange to view items from the list.

Alec Langley, Graham Brooks, Jim Coxon, Colin Wilkinson and Peter Jackson retreated from the damp and cool climate into Carrs Mine. They spent six hours removing the remains of the cable and lighting installations, including every clip, screw, nail and tie. This work required close inspection of walls and roof which led to the discovery of a large rock showing signs of movement. Our risk assessment indicated that the rock was likely to drop at any time and was apparently held up with a clay joint filling. Two people required to move and stack it after we had barred it down. A further inspection has not revealed any more mobile rocks.

Jim travelling to the Rise

Jim travelling to the Rise

Removing the fixings

Alec and Graham removing fixings

A review of the dam in the mine shows that our emergency work to reduce the water flow continues to be successful – a much reduced water flow from the drain valve.


19th October 2016 dawned with some sunshine and temperatures around 11 C. Graham Brooks, Alec Langley, Steve Bentley and Peter Jackson carried out emergency repairs to the pointing and flashing on the Assay House walls and the Barracks south chimney stack. The warm weather has encouraged more plant growth around the Smelting Mill which Sheila Barker removed and filled one large bag.


On 16th October, we discovered that person unknown had broken the ground floor door at Hodgsons Mine shop. Martyn Langley and Allan Richardson repaired the door and installed new locks. We probably need to obtain a new door, which will be a custom made fit and likely to be expensive.  This incident has been reported to the Police.  Not much hope of finding the idiot who did the damage, but if you do……


Our final public Open Day for Carrs Mine in 2016 was on 23rd October. Damp and cold day which probably reduced our visitor numbers. Alec Langley and Charley Hunt went fishing in Carrs Mine to rescue a fish which had appeared in the pool at the base of the dam. Having successfully rescued the fish from the mine, they went in search of our missing shovel in the river. The shovel was found in the waterfall pool and the rescue involved Alec supervising Charley who swam into the pool.


Friday 14th October. 

Graham Brooks, Peter Jackson, Steve Bentley and John Hine welcomed the Carlisle U3A Geology group. The plan was to start with a mine trip, leave the equipment at the mine exit, and then have a surface walk with Graham leading on the history.  Windy rain had been specially laid on for the visitors. The mine trip was successful except that we had two main bulb failures. Despite the rain, the water flow into the mine was very small.  Exiting the mine, the group found itself in a heavy rain shower.  Some members went straight back to The Barracks and others braved the walk to Smallcleugh. Liz Bentley joined us to learn about the surface walk.      We were quickly back down the hill. (Still raining…)

This email from Colin Agnew sums up the day:

The Group “found the whole thing very interesting and have commented that they’ll be back with relatives and friends BUT in the spring and Summer. They were quite amazed at the work that you have done up there and some of the comments you made about Zinc pollution have been picked up by joint members of the Environment Group who now want to go to Force Crag to see whats going on there!
On behalf of the group I’d like to pass on their thanks to you and to the volunteers who helped throughout the afternoon.”

Archiving Phase III documents and Wet from above and below- minus one shovel

Wednesday 12th October INDOORS

The archiving team has started work on the Phase III documents from 1997 onwards, listing all the site SMCs and opening the photo files.  The Bunkhouse was cleaned for a forthcoming weekend booking.


Nenthead autumn has arrived – mist,raining and cold. So naturally we chose to go and stand in the river.  Before we started work, tools and concrete had to be transported in Alec’s Range Rover to the track above the waterfall, and lowered down to the river in  two stages. Peter managed to drop three buckets and one was written off.

In the river, we were glad to see that last week’s work had survived and the water flow was 12 inches below the old intake pipe.. The leaking wall was packed with hessian bags filled with postcrete and an occasional shovel of river gravel. Our technique was improved by soaking the hessian bags in the river before they were filled with the dry mix. We had about ten minutes to insert and tamp each bag before the concrete started to go off – this required that the team knelt, crouched and almost laid in the river water – and it was raining. Lunch break came early today.  All our tools were left on site.

The afternoon shift was marred by the loss of a shovel during our lunch break- did it go down the river, or was it stolen? Very sadly, we decided that it was probably stolen. Clearing up the site, we installed rock armour at the base of the retaining wall.

Back at The barracks, we moved the remaining rubbish into a skip and  freed up more space on the ground floor.