Work Day Report Wednesday 13th December

Quite a pleasant December day at Nenthead Mines. The landscape was grey and white, it snowed and was damply cold. The Carrs Mine team completed the timbering but could not shift all the rubbish – why? – because the rails in the mine were buried in icestalagmites. We did, however, shift all the new unused timber to Carrs Mine shop. Chris, Will, Pete and Martyn had a cold draughty morning – mine temperatures 4C. Martyn ventured to Hodgsons Shop for more timber and watched wagons getting stuck on Killhope bank.

Icicles close to Carrs Mine entrance

Martyn fixing the last timber in Carrs Mine

Anne and Andy cleared off the rocks from the window ledges in The Barracks, and packed them away for winter storage. Sheila and Joyce continued the sort of the Eric Richardson archive and Audrey finished the painting of the Assay House windows. (Yes – that really does mean completed).

Lunch was Mine Strone soup, bread and cheese….and cake provided by The Foreman – thankyou Joyce.

No more Wednesday work days until January 10th (probably) but watch  the website for updates.


Work Day Report 6th December 2017

Another great day with plenty achieved. Sheila Barker continued the sort of the Eric Richardson collection documents and Audrey Battersby put more paint on the Assay House windows – both of them were snug and warm. Meanwhile…..Anne and Andy Hopkirk completed the sort of the Mineral Specimen collection drawers aided by the gas heater loaned by Chris Chilton. We took the thermometer out of The Barracks so that they would not know how cold it was. Joyce Jackson cleared the mud from the showers and then went to work in the mine.

Alec, Graham and Chris


Down the mine, it was more warm than The Barracks. Colin Agnew, Rosemary Vidler, Graham Brooks, Alec Langley Chris Buckingham, and Chris Battersby removed rotten roof timbers and installed new sections. Joyce Jackson and Martyn Langley came to help later.

Pete Jackson gave a conducted tour of the mine to PCSO Tony Labram and had a useful discussion about recent burglaries on our site. Colin Wilkinson installed a replacement outside light at The Barracks.

Graham and Alec

Colin A, Rosemary, Martyn and Joyce

Old and new timber and Wagon No 1

New timbers

8th and 15th November reporting, and the Art Group Visit on 12th November.

8th and 15th November Wednesday Work days.

Most of the year we can ignore our location high on the Pennine hills, until we are reminded in November when the temperature falls and the snow starts. The snow fell on the 8th and melted, but the outside temperature fell to 2C by the 15th.  On the 15th, we worked in a balmy 7C in Carrs mine, checking timber, surveying and doing a little exploring. Jim, Graham, Chris and Pete were in the mine today.

We are going to replace a fair amount of the entrance crosscut timbering over the winter and clean off some of the loose rock.

Meanwhile Audrey was very carefully painting windows inside the Assay House.The windows look better than they have for years – a very neat job completed.

Andy, Anne and Pete sorted through mineral specimens to remove the poorer quality specimens from our collection. Standing still in a cold Barracks building makes one think a lot faster and harder – it was colder inside than out in the yard!

The archive and computer team have sorted, checked and verified. We now have two back-up discs, one of which is taken off site after every Wednesday. Sheila, Anne and Joyce have been systematically checking through our systems.

Colin and Chris have also installed a new extraction system for the Assay House showers and Audrey has primed the woodwork.

ART GROUP VISIT 12th November  –  East Durham Artists Network

We hosted a visit from the EDAN team who wanted to visit a mine. Some of the members are former miners and some are new to underground. They have a good Facebook page and you can read more about their visit.

Thanks to Chris, Will, Frank and Charley who hosted this group.




Paper, rocks, scissors.

Wednesday 1st November work day was a quiet affair.  Anne, Andy and Pete viewed sections of the mineral collection with a view to reducing the number of examples that we hold.  Martyn repaired Middlecleugh Mine shop door which had been damaged by an attempted break-in. Sheila and Joyce sorted through our stocks of books in The Barracks.  Graham and Colin constructed air extraction ducting for the Assay House showers. Martyn cut up paper to produce scale drawings of the kitchen with different layouts.

Thanks to all our team for the volunteer work today.

Autumn Days at Nenthead – 18th October 2017

A Misty morning turned to blue sky at times, with a cool south east wind. The volunteer team covered a wide range of tasks today.

Dave  walked the site checking a footpath map and then did the whole tour again to check timings and directions.  We lost him in the mist from time to time but he reappeared for lunch and afternoon tea.

Anne, Karen, Sheila and Joyce spent the day in the warmth of the archive office debating spreadsheets and archiving. We are promised an on-line offering sometime soon.

Alec, Chris, Colin and Andrew, Audrey and Janet cut up scrap metal and moved it to the skip. They also collected some Arris fencing from Bernard and installed next to The Barracks.

Audrey painted the Brewery shaft pipework and then Colin and Audrey went off to count trees in the woods….

Andy completed his marathon task of photographing all our specimen collection.

Chris and Alec drilled new holes for the Grumpy Miners. They became grumpy themselves when the drill also decided to get grumpy.  Andrew and Janet dredged gravel out of the Carrs Mine drain, whilst Pete packed the fluorspar specimens for movement out of the mine.

Pete and John toured the east site boundary looking for gaps in the fences.


NOTE:  plans for future Working Wednesdays will normally now be published on the preceding Monday evening, on this website and the Facebook page. We will also setup an email notification list – send an email to if you want to be on the list.


Newcastle University Visit 16th October 2017

On 16th October we welcomed  50 students and staff from the Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences,  Newcastle University.  Our contribution required five group trips into Carrs Mine and supporting the groups on surface sampling.  We started the day in cloud and drizzle and ended with blue sky.  It was rewarding to see so many students taking an interest in earth sciences.

Thanks to Dr Martin Cooke, Director of Postgraduate Studies and team for choosing Nenthead as a field study site and to our team of volunteers including Steve Holding, Alan Robinson, Dave McAnelly, Karen Beer, Chris Buckingham , Joyce Jackson, Gavin Stewart, Andy Hopkirk, Frank Bouweraerts, Anne Hopkirk, and Peter Jackson.

Successful Sunday – 15th October

The last planned Sunday work day for this year had great results. Several potholes and gulleys were concreted on the approach road. This consumed our stock of sand and cement, including some new donations of cement.

15 October 2017


After lunch we split into two groups. One team cleared fallen rock from the river adjacent to Carrs waterfall. The water level was dropped by at least one welly depth. Another team visited Rampgill Burn culvert intending to retrieve the stocks of dressed stone that were leftover from past conservation work. Stocks of stone now safely housed at Carrs Mine.  We also viewed a collapsed culvert wall and retrieved some fallen walling from the burn. Pending longer term repairs, this work will help to prevent more erosion of the silt on the burn side.


The day ended with a quick visit to Carrs Mine in order to inspect and prepare the mine for a visit on Monday.



Watery Theme

Members Underground Trip 23 September 2017.

An Introduction to parts of Rampgill mine for our new members was advertised by Pete J as having water no more than 0.5 metres deep. A tour of Scaleburn whimsey, Rampgill Engine shaft and Hangingshaw Branch level revealed the horrible truth…that Pete still has not grasped metric measurements – the water depth is 0.9 metres. 

The next day was a Sunday members volunteer work day and we found ourselves working with water again, but in  better conditions on surface.

Sunday 24 September Members Working Day

Pete rapidly disappeared up the valley with Sheila – trying to avoid the comments about tape measures and metrication. Sheila and he were gathering thistles ( they said). Chris(2), Will and Rachel collected the scrap timber which has been lying at Hodgsons High Level for 3 or more years. Audrey got a dry job inside painting the Barracks windows. Chris(1), Allan and Jim toiled in the Stagg waterwheel pit and removed rubbish and scrap that has been thrown down. They also stacked useful building stone from the pit bottom for possible future use and discovered that part of the tailrace tunnel is in  need of repair. They managed to persuade Head Ganger Joyce to barrow the rubbish down the hill to the skip.

Chris(2), Will and Rachel then cleared out some scrap wood from the Power of Water site before starting conservation work on  the Brewery Shaft external pipework. Water has been trapped in the valves and they found that the valve gate could be removed which allows the water to drain, and the pipes to be given a protective coat of paint. Pete was instructed in the meaning  of the metric measurements cast on the gates. Nick was spotted trying to get the squawk box to work correctly – is it full of water?

Jim, Allan and Pete dismantled some stone structures that have appeared around Firestone level. These creations incorporate stone seats and fire pits, with stocks of wood. They managed to dismantle two of three. We think that we have an intruder who is ignoring the normal polite niceties of behaviour about not building on someone else’s property – whilst also remembering that the land is an Ancient Monument.

Chris(2) and Will were viewing the flood damage on the smelt mill trackway when they discovered evidence of a possible culvert just south of the smelt mill flue. We plan to get permission to dig trial pits in this area.


Wild, Wet, Trouble and Success

9th and 10th September 2017

The Heritage Open Days weekend started on Saturday morning with a prospective quiet day which was not to be. The morning mine inspection revealed a break in at the Carrs Mine waterfall exit, with damaged door and woodwork, damaged mineral specimens, missing specimens, moved mine wagon, and evidence of the most basic human behaviour. Most of this was sorted before the first visitors arrived, but the door had to wait until Sunday. Heavy rain showers.

The damage to the mine was the second incident in a fortnight. Two volunteers endeavoured to find replacement door hinges in the afternoon of Saturday but without success – all the outlets for miles were out of stock. A phone call to another team member (who was forty miles away at the time) eventually got us some hinges delivered late on Saturday. The door and frame was fixed on Sunday.

We now have the incidents logged with the Cumbria Police, crime number allocated, and another bump in the crime stats for Alston and Nenthead.

However…good things happened elsewhere. The Brewery shaft lights had been repaired by the Wednesday work teams and they were duly lowered down the shaft. Our visitors on both days were taken on conducted tours of the shaft top.  Everyone seemed very impressed. Meanwhile, we had heavy rain showers.

Sunday visitor numbers were better and we had a busy day.  Not content with being a Grumpy Miner, Titus also enlarged his performance by introducing a song. (underground).

On both days we  sold cakes and tea , books , identified mineral specimens , ate original old style miners bread, and  sampled  home cured bacon. It rained.

Our roving photographer kept emerging from darker corners of Carrs Mine -and we are adding to our stock of good publicity photos.

The total donations for the weekend were just over £600. It rained some of the time.

(click on any image for a larger view)

Titus and Rosemary

Jane and Karen

Nick, Bob and Allan

Dave, Paul and Frank




Wet Wednesday 2nd August 2017

Raining whilst we were working on  site today – but warm. The weeding team removed thistles, and other unwanted vegetation. Four large bags filled by the end of the day.

At the Power of Water, the water chute, blowing engine and assorted timbers were all removed. The base area has also been cleaned up and scrap material stacked ready for removal. At the east end of the structure, we have started preparations to dismantle more of the structure. The objective here is to make the top of the structure inaccessible to  children.

(Click on the image for a larger view)