2-5 July 2021 - Nigel Dibben - SO 36584 92477
The 2020 conference was cancelled because of Covid but the Shropshire Caving and Mining Club decided to run the conference in 2021. Various changes had to be made because of Covid but there was still a programme of lectures (some given on-line and some people attending on-line) and a programme of trips. The conference was well attended with over 120 delegates plus speakers and trip leaders.
I joined the conference on Friday 2nd July and left after a trip on Monday 5th July. This report only refers to the trips I did.
Below 1: The hall at Norbury where lectures were held and delegates checked in.
On the Friday, there were a couple of surface walks and I joined one on Brown Clee Hill where there had been coal and ironstone mining and dolerite quarrying. There was little clear evidence of the coal mining as it had been by shallow adit and bell pit but the quarrying had left scars and buildings. The dolerite was a hard rock and it was crushed to make roadstone and aggregate for concrete.
We saw remains of the crusher house and screens as well as the inclined railway to the site. There was also a hstorically interesting building made of concrete posts and panels which was experimental use of this technique later used in houses and small industrial buildings.
The top of the hill is the highest point in Shropshire (despite having 50 feet shaved off it by the quarrying!).
Grid ref for day: SO 59380 86585
Below 1: The top of the incline from Ditton Priors, now used as a road to the communications masts. Below 2: The crushing plant viewed from the embankment where the railway brought in the rock to be processed. Below 3: Interior of the crusher house with two of the three crusher bases in concrete. Below 4: Flooded quarry near the summit.
On Saturday morning, I helped at the hall with admin but in the afternoon I went to Snailbeach Mine for a trip on the winch down to the 40 yard level. The winch was the one designed and built by Paul Thorne of KURG.
Trips down to the level at about -95 metres went smoothly if a bit damp at the bottom! The shaft continues below for another 35 metres to a blockage but the total depth was originally 365 metres. It is a fine shaft through solid rock. At the 40 yard level, it is possible to walk for some distance east and west and also along a cross-cut to another blocked shaft. This level can be reached from Perkins Level, which is a walk-in entrance further down the hill.
After taking a few photos, I came back out the same way back to sunshine.
Saturday evening there was sadly no social event because of Covid so it was back to accommodation, eat, sleep and then get ready for the next trips.
Grid ref for day: SJ 38085 02230
Below 1: Chapel Shaft top Below 2: The onsetter at the shaft bottom Below 3: Typical rail bridge Below 4: Wet passage to Black Tom Shaft
On Sunday, I did not go to any lectures but went to Huglith barytes mine for trips into the two main veins. Huglith is on the east side of the Stiperstones and contains a number of barytes veins with some copper present as well. It was worked well into the 20th century.
For the morning trip, we descended into Main Vein via "Dog Leg Shaft" of about 30m into the main workings. After the descent, I explored west down a stepp slope to the flooded adit level then back up and eastwards past open stopes and some copper mineralisation. Towards the end of the vein, there is a cross-cut to the north at the end of which is a rope pitch up to Badger Level.
On this upper level, there were further worksings which we explored and then an easy walk out to surface.
Back to the cars for a lunch break.
Grid ref for day: SJ 40336 01572
Below 1: Descending Dog Leg Shaft Below 2: The main level. Below 3: Copper deposits in the level Below 4: Top of the shaft up to Badger Level
In the afternoon, we moved over to Riddleswood Vein for another two trips down and up - both 30m again! These trips weren't exactly thrilling - down to a level, look around, and then back out again. There was little to see on the levels. The upper level was some distance above the lower one meaning a stiff walk uphill. After the second climb out, we followed a short level across the vein and then returned to the cars. So ended Sunday. I didn't take any pictures in the second shaft.
Below 1: Entrance to first shaft on Riddleswood Vein Below 2: A copper rich vein in Riddleswood
On the Monday, I went over to Clive and met up with several of the people I had been underground with earlier in the weekend. Clive is a small village where the main road runs along the line of the vein. There are in fact numerous shafts into the mine but only two are used today as the entrances: a short laddered route into the upper series and the deep shaft which connects to the lower series and now houses a water pump.
Clive Mine is very similar to Engine Vein although the earlier workings are not too easy to spot (there are signs of some fire-setting) and it looks like the mine has also been a source of building stone at one time.
We went along the top level to the extreme north end and back again. There are two drops that connect with the bottom (ore handling) level and a substantial blockage installed by Shropshire Council to reinforce the road above.
After returning back across the traverse, there is a bit more too the south of the entrance ladder.
After this trip, I returned home.
Grid ref for day: SJ 51394 23859
Below 1: The traverse across the first winze in Clive Mine Below 2: Handpicked level near the traverse Below 3: The grouted filling under the road in Clive Below 4: Banding with iron and copper
Despite Covid, the Shropshire Caving and Mining Club did a brilliant job organising a conference. The lecture hall was limited in capacity and masks were mandatory but we still managed several trips. Sadly there was no social event on the Saturday night but let's look forward ton Cleveland in 2022.
Type of entry: Mining