Annual General Meeting 2020

Two events in recent months – Storm Ciara and the Covid-19 pandemic – have had very significant effects upon the Society and its regular activities.

Storm Ciara in February led to extensive track-way erosion and serious flooding in the lower ground level of the Barracks building. Fortunately, pending a planned rebuild in the Barracks that was already getting started, a temporary relocation of the office and archive into the upper floor of the Assay House could be expedited at pace and there were no losses of equipment or papers as a consequence of the flooding.

Now in March, the Covid-19 pandemic has put a complete halt to regular works and remedial actions following the flooding event in February. We cancelled the regular on-site work programme and the planned Open Days for some months ahead. We may yet lose the whole summer season entirely if government actions to stem the epidemic in the UK are not quickly successful.

Volunteers have mothballed the site as best they could given the social distancing constraints in recent weeks before the nationwide lock down starting 24th March. We are concerned about the safety and security of the closed up buildings and their contents over the coming weeks and months. We have made arrangements with members in Nenthead village to provide a level of regular monitoring in the meantime.

The Society’s Annual General Meeting is postponed indefinitely for now.

Despite the potential losses of Open Day income over the spring and summer, the Society’s financial reserve is such that we can easily survive into 2021.

We hope that all members are able to keep safe and well and that we’ll be able to ‘get back to normal’ in due course. Please follow the official guidance and do your bit to minimise the duration and impact of the pandemic.

With very best wishes,

Trustees of Nenthead Mines Conservation Society

Open days and Group Bookings

Here is a list of events which will require members to be mine guides, cake makers, site guides, and welcoming hosts – depending upon the type of event.

If you are interested in volunteering for any of these dates, please contact Joyce Jackson, our Volunteer Coordinator. Phone number is 01388 527532 and email is joiceyjoyce(at)

This list will be reviewed regularly and additional events may be added from time to time. Revised on 20th January 2020 (NM= mine not booked)

11th July Westmorland Geological Society

18th September Leeds Geological Association

Forthcoming Members Volunteering Events

ALL EVENTS START AT THE ASSAY HOUSE AT THE SMELTING  MILL – unless another location is given.  For Information – 07702 538709. You must have a BCA membership card  ( and bring it with you – if not a NMCS member).

SAFETY: NMCS provides gloves and safety helmets for outdoor work. You must provide your own safety footwear if you are planning to be involved in any work where your feet may be vulnerable to injury.

EVERY WEDNESDAY – members volunteer work day. Start time is 1000hrs at the Assay House. Phone the Volunteer Coordinator – Joyce Jackson – if you have any questions or suggestions. 07702 538709

NB: The project at Thompsons Level has been suspended over the winter months – we hope to have some published dates shortly for this project.

Updated 10th May 2019.

Site Work report 10 February 2019

During the early days of February, work has continued on site, despite the cold and wet weather. The Drying Room construction has continued and work has started on the Stamp Mill site.

First day of work on the Drying Room – the floor joists are laid on the damp proof course

Drainage pipe being installed in the Stamp Mill trench. This pipe is laid as a contingency, just in case the site floods in future. We have given the site a new name to reflect the fact that the Power of Water structure will be demolished this year.

Checking the alignment of the drainage pipe

Colin arranging the outflow end of the pipe. The pipe was later lengthened to bypass the pond, which will soon be filled with rubble.

Allan demonstrating the use of a tape measure. The Drying Room has wall panels of plywood, with an inner insulation layer.

Looking from the site of the lobby to the entrance door to the Drying Room


Book review – The Archaeology of Underground Mines and Quarries in England

The Archaeology of Underground Mines and Quarries in England

Author: John Barnatt.  Photographs by Paul Deakin and others.

Historic England, Swindon. 2019.  ISBN 978-1-84802-381-9.

136 pages. 222mm x 275mm page size. Text, maps and many colour images.

Price £30.00

Members of NMCS can receive a 20% discount and free p&p by entering discount code AUMQ19 on the basket page of the Historic England bookshop

This book presents a detailed introduction to the underground mining and quarrying heritage in England. It reviews the many types of mineral and stone taken from the ground and looks at the archaeological remains that survive today and are accessible to those who go underground.

It is designed to illustrate the wonders to be found underground and give the reader ways forward should they wish to follow up their interest.

John Barnatt is an archaeologist with a long record of work on mining, particularly in Derbyshire. Part one of the book is an introduction to Mining and Quarrying and is followed by chapters on the products of mining and quarrying and the regional variations.   Part two describes the common themes and the local diversity.

John states that one primary aim of producing the book was “to inform people wanting to do their own archaeological investigations underground” and to provide a starting point for the inexperienced.

Almost every page has coloured photographs and maps of underground features and the book is a visual pleasure for the reader. The photographs are very well chosen and provide an excellent visual summary of mines in England.  There is a short section covering access and  organisations that operate within England. 

Inevitably there are minor statements and captions that the reader might consider worthy of revision, but to fulfil the primary aim of informing people this book fulfils that aim.  The book does not aim to be a gazetteer, nor is it an access guide, and it cannot cover all the details of history and technology that underpin the mining and underground quarrying industries.

Apart from the sheer personal pleasure of browsing the pictures, I can see that this book will be an excellent tool to show  a mine owning landowner, a local government planning department and to encourage experienced explorers to start recording the features that they walk past every weekend. It will also be a brilliant tool to encourage new people to getting involved in mining archaeology. 

Peter Jackson