Cutting, Sorting and Removing

Sunday 25th September

Carrs Mine shop finally cleared of decaying ply sheets which we had been keeping just in case. The better ones have gone into store and the worse ones will be used for archaeology digs and smelt mill rubbish dumps.

The steel container that formerly held the lead acid lamp charging rack was extracted from the building and donated to a neighbour, who can use it as a fuel store. The space created was then used to tidy up our stock of steel scaffolding.

Team were in need of a rest and found that the bench  with the best views by the smelting mill is sadly decayed. The old seat slats were removed – we are now on the search for some new treated wood that could be used to repair this seat.

Nick Green, Allan Richardson, Sheila Barker, Alec Langley, Martyn Langley, Rosemary Vidler, and Charley Hunt joined in the fun.


Wednesday 21st September 2016

Back into Carrs Mine to finish off the rock removal job. Several barrow loads of rock and spoil shifted, drainage gutter cleared, and two new timber posts inserted. Tall folk find this low part of Carrs Mine is a bit of a pain, even worse when you are pushing a heavy barrow.

We also shifted out of the mine two lengths of rope and some block and tackle gear which has been sitting at the bottom of the main Rise since about 2003. 

This took us up to late lunchtime. During lunch we entertained two groups off visitors. One group had family links to Coulsons – perhaps a link too Coulsons Level. The other group had ancestors Liverick and Pattinson. We finished the lunch with a £20 donation and an offer of a geology section of Wellhope Shaft.

The afternoon shift removed a collapsing fence at the back of the Smelting Mill bunkers and saved some of the wood for running repairs to other parts of the fence. Meanwhile, the clear-up of the smelting mill site continued, ragwort was uprooted and more thistles plucked.

Sheila, Joyce, Graham, Pete and Colin were on site today.

Some Proper Mining and some Awkward Electrics

Wednesday 14th September 2016

Today we tackled an outstanding problem of a cracked piece of wall rock in  Carrs Mine.  Having completed our method statement and reviewed the risk assessment, Steve, Joyce and Pete ventured into Carrs Mine and removed a large piece of cracked sandstone. As you might expect, some more pieces of adjoining wall had also to be removed and a requirement for timber was also noticed. By the end of the afternoon we had filled six wheelbarrows of rock. More to shift next week.

Rock removal in Carrs Mine

Rock removal in Carrs Mine

Colin had started one of those “small, quick jobs” of renewing an electric socket. Due to the peculiarities of the wiring and the previous box fixing methods  – this small job took all day.The mining team probably had the easier day!

John Crompton arrived with some rails and part of an early cast turnout. Hopefully we should be able to reconstruct one of the first iron turnouts, as used in the North Pennine Mines. Thankyou to John  for this donation.

Sheila and Liz were sorting and cataloguing some Geological Survey maps that had been donated by John Crompton earlier this month.


We opened for two days over the Heritage Open Days period of 10th and 11th September. Steve and Pete had dressed as the Smelly Smelter and Grumpy Miner. Steve was in residence at The Barracks and Pete was at Hodgsons Mine Shop. Pete had an interesting Saturday with visitors taking about the Walton family, Auden’s poetry, Archiving methods, geology and the beauty of the valley. On Sunday he got really grumpy because hardly anyone came to see him. The compensations were that the stove was burning well and the kettle was on the boil all day.

Back down at the mine the visitors were arriving and being taken round by our regular and  new Mine Guides. Peter Wilson, Frank Bouweraerts, Chris Buckingham, and Charley Hunt  joined the team and worked with Nick Green, Helen Wilkinson, Alec Langley and Rosemary Vidler.  Donations and cake sales raised over £561 over the weekend.

Martyn Langley took a geology undergrad student into Smallcleugh Mine and helped with location finding for a research project.

Miner and Smelter

Miner and Smelter

John Crompton arrived to donate a large collection of Geological Survey Maps and various mining tools from Alston Moor Mines. Thankyou to John for donating such an important collection.

23 degrees at Nenthead!

Wednesday 7th September 2016

Trying to paint windows at 23 degrees is tricky – the paint was drying rapidly. Some primer and topcoat to complete before the weather changes. All buildings now looking much more presentable.  The wood signs describing each building have also been repainted by Sheila Barker, and Joyce Jackson has followed afterwards and highlighted the header title with a darker colour.

Hodgsons Mine Shop was prepared for Heritage Open Days. The remaining sand was transported back to The Barracks by Colin Wilkinson, the floor was swept, and the artefacts rearranged. The thistle extraction team were also at work on the dumps round about the shop – Liz Bentley, Steve Bentley  and Graham Brooks .

Thistle digging

Thistle digging

After lunch, Colin sorted out Carrs Mine shop and made the building accessible.  The mine wagons and ram pump were then dragged up to The Barracks back wall.  This makes the place look tidier. One of the wagon under frames is rusty badly and will probably have to be scrapped.

How to move the ram pump.....?

How to move the ram pump…..?

Steve and Liz were also scouting the valley for good photo sites for a HOD leaflet.

Graham, Sheila and Joyce sorted out the HOD bunting. Not sure about the white overalls..

HODs bunting

HODs bunting


Herons, Shelves and Gentians 31st August

31st August could be the beginning of autumn. Sheila, Liz and Joyce were touring the valley rooting out thistles with our new easy-pulling device when they spotted the autumn gentians. The sun was hidden behind a cloud and the gentians were being shy, but we saw several swathes of gentians on the grassy areas.  The flowers have grown well this year due to the absence of sheep.  A solitary heron was cruising up and down the river below the waterfall.

Autumn Gentian

Autumn Gentian

Indoors, Steve, ColinW and Pete were completing the shelves in the storeroom and then sorting through all our boxes of  screws and nails inherited from the old NPHT. Funny how the volume shrinks when you get them all tidied and shelved!  ColinW has also installed hooks and racks for the hand tools – you can now get that shovel without a pile of tools landing on your feet. Progress was good and at the end of the afternoon we were sweeping the Barracks floor to make a clean space for the Eimco. One of the winter jobs is to clean down the Eimco and start conservation work.

The tedious job of scraping, puttying and cleaning the window frames also got some time. The bulk of this task is complete – Carrs Mine shop and some Barracks windows need some primer and top coat before we can claim to have finished. The small window in the Workshop gable has a pretty good glass frame but the surrounding frame is badly rotten. Some filler will keep it weathertight until next year but it looks like a new frame will be required.

We aim to clean out the very last of the rubbish this year and a skip is on order.