Picture Post: Abandoned lead mine dates back to Henry VIII

PIC: Bruce Rollinson
PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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Midway between Keighley and Skipton, surrounded by rolling fields and bordered by the bleak and beautiful expanse of the Yorkshire Dales, this former lead mine looks like the last remains of some ancient ruined fort abandoned to the tide of time.

There is evidence which suggests attempts at mining here date back almost 500 years to 1532 - a grant was made by Henry VIII in 1530 for the working of lead on the moors there and it is thought two shafts were sunk at that time - although work to extract the lead did not begin in earnest until the mid-18th Century, by which time it is generally thought that other ore mines in the immediate area were also operational, albeit with limited success.

For example, by the latter half of the 18th Century mines at nearby Glusburn closed, possibly due to a lack of ore or water problems.

The main period of working was between 1825 and 1882 when the mine was worked for lead ore by Hall and Co lead merchants, who had previous experience mining in both the Derwent mines of the North Pennines and the Arkengarthdale mines in the Yorkshire Dales.

Miners from Derbyshire, Cornwall and Wales were known to have been part of an influx to the area, which saw the village population rise to 1,500.

It is thought the mine was forced to close due to a number of factors, not least the lack or lead ore, with only 12 tons being removed in its final year. This, added to a fall in the price of lead, made the mine financially unviable.

It was worked briefly in the 1920s after a market opened up for barytes (barium sulphate) and this continued sporadically until about 1933, when the mine was mothballed. Mining did briefly return in the 1950s but the mine was finally abandoned in 1958. An application to resume operations there, submitted in the 1980s, was refused.

The entrance to the mine, known as an incline plane, which made it easier to get the ore out, can still be seen today in the village, although it is blocked off with an iron grill.

Technical detail: Nikon D800, Nikkor 17-35mm f2.8, 640the sec @ f8, Polarising filter.