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.



The roof and walls are complete. Some patches of pointing to complete. See the posting about the Members Long Weekend 19th to 22nd September for information about the next phase of work.


A big effort has been made to remove rubbish and modern scrap from the site. We have filled a skip with rubbish left from the NPHT period, and we have stored any useful material.

Hodgsons High Level Mine Shop has been tidied up and failing pointing has been rectified. A broken window has been repaired and a new coat of stain will be applied during September.

The Smelting Mill has been cleared of waste mortar and debris left by Anelays after the 2014 Conservation Work. The wheelpit within the mill has been pumped out and cleared of rubbish.

Barracks failing pointing has been part-repaired and we intend to complete this work before the winter. Energy greedy light fittings have been replaced with lower running cost fittings. The downstairs store has been sorted (again!) and more space made available.

Sluice gates have been checked in order to try and prevent flooding in stormy weather.







The team on 19th July  made great progress on the roof and outer walls.  Here is Colin Wilkinson, Col Suddick and Alec Langley with the new roof in the background. It seems to be taking a lot of time to complete the roof – there is a loot of slow detailing and we are learning as we go.

Maybe we might see you on our next working day which will be on Sunday 2nd August?

North Explosives Store 29 June Report

Excellent weather on 28th and 29th June. After some false starts, we got the rafters and wall plates installed.

Colin Wilkinson, Martyn Langley and Alec Langley

Colin Wilkinson, Martyn Langley and Alec Langley

The coming weekend (Sunday 5th July) will see the slates start to go on. We also have tasks to rebuild the inner wall  and to carry on pointing the exterior. The more people we have the easier it will all be.  The site can absorb at least seven people without us falling over each other. Weather forecast is good.  Contact our Volunteer Coordinator – Joyce – on  07702538709 if you want to know more.

Working volunteers can stay in the Assay House bunkhouse for nil cost – provided you do some work!


Colin, Alec and Martyn were smiling to order.


End of the day, the rafters and wall plates are in….but the midges have arrived.

North Explosives Store – how are we doing?

Work was slow to start this year because the night time temperatures have been too low for lime mortaring.  Things improved in late May and we have now spent three working days on the building. What have we done?

1 Removed the temporary winter roof

2 Installed the new door frame and eventually got it trued up.

3 Cleaned out the interior and had another look at the archaeology of the floor area.

4 Pointed the front exterior wall, rebuilt the barrel joists stonework, and started on pointing the two side walls.



We are making a big effort on Sunday 28th and Monday 29th June.  The aim is to complete the lintel over the door, install the wall plates, install the rafters, and complete the side walls up to the rafters.  If time permits, we’ll make a start with the roof slates.

If you are coming for both days, you can stay in the Bunkhouse at nil cost on Sunday evening.  If you want to know more or book your place, then phone our Volunteer Coordinator Joyce on 07702538709.  All insured members are welcome!

17 May 2015 – Members working day report

Brewery Shaft

The light string was pulled from the shaft and the bulbs changed to led type.  Everything worked fine.  Power supply is now from a generator as the mains supply has been removed.

North Explosives Store

The temporary winter roof was removed, which took longer than expected. The walls are in good condition underneath.  After much cutting and discussing, the new outer door frame was installed and  the site tidied up.

Smelting Mill

Sorting of the stone pile continued, window blind installed in the Assay House, rubbish cleared from the mill area.