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.



Sometime back in the summer we had added track relaying at Carrs Level to our programme. The gauge had widened at the level entrance and wagons dropped between the rails. After half an hour of digging along one rail, we located the spikes and rotting sleepers. New wood packing pieces were cut and placed between the rail and the level side wall, the rails were re spiked, gauge checked, ballast replaced and we were done!

A test run with the wagon showed that we had been successful.  The wagons can now be safely stored in the mine. It was now time for an early lunch and so back to The Barracks to hear about the morning’s archiving work.

After lunch, the foreman had suggested clearing the gutter in Carrs Level but the team decided to have a look at the water flow in the river to try and find the source of a possible water leakage. We had previously noted an occasional rise in the water level following heavy rain, which as always been a problem for the mine, but this rise seemed to happen faster and often included silt washing through the dam valve.

Down in the river, by the waterfall plunge pool, we dug out the river bed and cleared a large quantity of rock and silt. This work lowered the water level in the river by more than 12 inches and enabled us to see the base of the retaining wall on the east side of the river. We could see some gaps in the structure which would need leak proofing.  A short visit back to the dam in the mine revealed a much reduced water flow, so we had already made progress.

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.