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Monument record MDR1306 - Magpie Mine, Ashford-in-the-Water

Type and Period (13)

  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Magpie Mine, possible medieval lead workings. 18th century phase consisting of Cornish Engine house, works managers house, shafts, cupola chimney and explosives house which lie around a reconstructed horse gin all in an extensive area of lead workings. These include shafts and spoil heaps. The site is gradually being consolidated by the Peak District Mines Historical Society for public viewing. (2) Magpie Mine is one of the most complete examples of a Derbyshire lead mine. It had a working life of 120 years. The site is now the field centre for the Peak District Historical Mine Society and contains the remains of a Cornish engine house, numerous chimneys, an ore crushing circle and drains, along which water raised from the mine flowed away. (9) Dirty Redsoil Mine and Plantation was connected to Magpie Mine by a tramway in the 18th to 19th century. Remains of this still exist. Other remains include a coe and a gin circle. (10) The monument includes the earthwork, buried, standing and rock cut remains of Magpie, Dirty Red Soil, Great Red Soil, Maypit and Horsesteps lead mines. The monument is situated on a limestone plateau, 700m south of Sheldon village at approximately 310m above sea level and is defined on all sides by stone walling. It is unclear when the mines were first worked but documentation dating from 1682 records the official opening of Shuttlebark vein, an ore deposit which runs roughly east to west through the centre of the monument. The title of Magpie Mine was first used in 1740 in records relating to ore production and profitability. Throughout the 18th century the mine was worked by various individuals and partnerships and in 1790 Magpie Mine was the largest producer in the district. During the second half of the 18th century several other mines in the area became active including Dirty Red Soil. This period of success was however short-lived and a decline in lead prices saw the closure of the mine in 1793. Magpie Mine was reopened around 1800 and the title extended to include other, at that time, unworked veins. Following the sinking of the main shaft and the installation of a Newcomen type engine, the mine flourished. By 1824 Magpie Mine was one of the most profitable in Derbyshire. In the same year, however, the mine became the subject of a violent dispute over ownership with the neighbouring Maypit Mine. A combination of a slump in trade, the cost of legal representation during the disputes, and flooding led to the closure of Magpie mine in 1835. In 1838 Magpie Mine amalgamated with Great Red Soil Mine and a year later John Taylor, the most respected mine manager in the country took over. Taylor introduced large scale and efficient working methods and was responsible for many of the standing buildings visible on the site today. One improvement was the installation of a second hand Cornish engine which doubled the power of the earlier Newcomen engine. Despite Taylor's improvements there was still a problem with drainage and by 1868 the mine was passed to John Fairburn. By 1881 Magpie Sough had been built to serve as a pumpway for water from the mine. The sough took water from the mine to the River Wye approximately one mile north of the monument. The expense of building the sough caused financial difficulties and the mine suspended operations again in 1883. Following intermittent interest by various companies in the early 20th century Magpie Consolidated Mines started working the site in 1950. They were responsible for replacing the wooden headgear with that of steel which is still visible on the site today. The mine finally closed in 1958. The mines would have been worked under the jurisdiction of the Barmote Courts, the legal administrative unit governing Derbyshire lead mining. The Derbyshire system of mining was largely based on local mining customs and consisted of individual groups of miners or small mining companies working from shafts sunk along the vein. (11) The monument includes a concentration of surface remains representing the history of lead mining at Magpie, Dirty Red Soil, Maypit, Horsesteps and Great Red Soil Mines. They survive as a series of engine and climbing shafts, gin circles (remains of horse powered winding apparatus), a powder house (used for storing gunpowder), an engine reservoir (provided boiler and cooling water for the Cornish engines), ruined coes (stone built shelters or sheds), hillocks (mounds of waste rock which either contain insufficient quantities of ore to warrant extraction or waste from ore crushing activity), open cuts (veins worked open to daylight), rake workings (extraction and ore processing works which follow the line of an ore deposit) flues, drains, tramways and a section of the Magpie sough. In addition to features representing extraction processes those representing ore processing also survive. These include a crushing circle (housing for a crushing wheel used for crushing ore), dressing floor and washing floor (processing areas) slime ponds (where poisonous sediment from dressing process was allowed to settle) and buddle dams (large earth dams into which was placed the dirt and sludge resulting from buddling operations (ore washing)). The original Magpie Mine lies to the south of the Agents House and Smithy which were constructed by John Taylor in the 1840s. The 17th century climbing and founder shafts are both visible on the surface. Magpie mine was moved to its current position in the early 19th century and is centred at grid reference SK17256814. The area is characterised by a number of prominent buildings which are laid out around the main shaft. This was sunk in 1823 and is now defined by steel headgear which was erected in the 1950s. With the exception of the corrugated iron winding house, which lies to the south of the main shaft and dates to the 1950s, most of the other buildings were constructed between 1840 and 1869 when John Taylor was managing the mine. All the buildings are constructed of limestone and although most are ruinous some survive to their original height. The 1840s witnessed the most widespread change with the construction of a circular chimney, powder house and engine reservoir to the north of the main shaft and a winding house and square chimney to the south. The winding house has since been demolished but its position can still be defined on the ground. The square chimney is connected via a flue to the boiler house. The opening to the flue is blocked with an iron grill but the remainder is visible on the surface as a raised grass bank with patches of exposed stone walling. A winding engine house, situated adjacent to the boiler house, and an engine house, of Cornish design, situated immediately north of the main shaft were both built in 1869 and survive, at least in part, to their full height. (11) Approximately 60m north west of the main shaft lie slime ponds and a dressing floor. These are defined on the surface by low banks and appear as large rectangular features with slightly sunken centres. Just south of these is a ruined stone built ore coe and approximately 40m further south are the degraded remains of a crushing circle and washing floor. The latter two features are not clearly discernible on the ground and may have been degraded during the latest stages of working at the site. The remainder of Magpie Mine is characterised by a series of shafts and hillocks, buddle dams and open cuts. These extend both east and west of the concentration of buildings. Approximately 100m west of the Main Shaft lies Shuttlebark Engine shaft which was sunk in the 1760s. This was served by a gin circle which survives to the north of the shaft, as a raised, circular mound with a flattened top. Another distinctive feature of this mine is the Magpie Drain. This runs from the washing floor north westwards to the edge of the area of protection. The drain, which was in use by the early 19th century, survives as a low bank with a narrow flattened top. Approximately 100m east of the Main Shaft lies Crossvein Shaft which was sunk in 1833. This is accompanied by a gin circle which lies to its south along with a coe and other ruinous structures. Magpie sough runs underground from the main shaft westwards to the dressing floor where it turns to the north east and continues to the River Wye. Only the section lying within the area of protection is included in the scheduling. Dirty Red Soil Mine is centred at SK 17336798 and is enclosed by a circular stone wall approximately 40m in diameter. The mine is characterised by a single, collapsed shaft with a gin circle to its south. South and west of the stone wall are the visible remains of other shafts and open cuts but it is not known whether these were worked as part of Dirty Red Soil Mine. A tramway running from Dirty Red Soil Mine towards Magpie Main Shaft is evident as a low turf covered bank. (11) Horsesteps Mine is centred at grid reference SK17476804 on the eastern edge of the area of protection. The mine is characterised by a shaft, enclosed within a coe, and a second shaft, now partly collapsed, to its north. The whole complex lies within an area of hillocks. Centred at grid reference SK17426807 is a series of structures representing both Great Red Soil and Maypit Mine. It was in this area that quarrels over ownership began when Magpie miners broke through to Maypit Mine in what both claimed to be their own vein. In 1829 Magpie miners were able to prove conclusively that they owned the vein. Maypit miners also worked the adjacent Great Red Soil Mine which itself became the centre of debate when Magpie miners broke into Great Red Soil, a vein which had definitely been freed (claimed) long before. This dispute became violent and ended with three Great Red Soil miners losing their lives and others being injured. These mines are characterised by a series of hillocks, engine and climbing shafts, a coe, a gin circle and a pond. A replica horse gin has been erected on the site of the Great Red Soil engine shaft which was originally sunk in 1831. Close to the northern edge of the monument the remains of a limekiln are visible adjacent to the 19th century engine reservoir. The structure, which is partly covered in grass, appears dome shaped with an entrance on the southern side. The entrance is open to the surface but partially buried. (11) This exceptional site, with the core area within a belland yard, has fine hillocks and a complex suite of 19th century buildings. These include a Cornish engine house, a miners' dry, a horizontal engine house and boiler house, two chimneys (one from an earlier Cornish winding house) and flues, a reservoir, a small horizontal engine house (used for dressing floor equipment), a manager's house with attached smithy, a small building that may have been an ore store, and a powder house. There is also a 20th century head gear and winding house. Elsewhere on the site are several grilled climbing and engine shafts, four gin circles, an embanked leat, a raised tramway and slime ponds. There are also shallow reworking opencuts, a dressing floor, a small buddle dam, ruined coes, limekilns and the possible although unlikely site of a crushing circle. (12) Photograph collection. (13-17) The most extensive surface remains, all in local limestone and slate, of any lead mine in the lead-field. Restored and administered by the Peak District Mines Historical Society. The principle features are the ruined Cornish-style engine house of 1869, the winding house and drum of 1869, the 1840 chimney of circular section, the steel headgear of 1953, the house and workshops, and the reconstructed horse gin and crushing circle. The sough draining the mine enters the River Wye at Ashford. (22)

Sources/Archives (22)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Harris, H. 1971. Industrial Archaeology of the Peak District.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Willies, L. 1974. The reopening of Magpie Sough. Vol. 5, No.6, pp 324-331.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Willies, L. 1974. A survey of Maypit and Redsoil Mines, Sheldon. Vol.5, No.6, pp 349-359.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Willies, L. 1975. Maypit and Redsoil Mines - A Reply to Nellie Kirkham. Vol.6, No.1,. pp 50-51.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Ford, T & Rieuwerts, J. 1983. Lead Mining in the Peak District, 3rd edition. p4, 42, 44, 66-79, 100, 160.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Willies L M, Roche V S, Workley N E and Ford T D. 1987. The History of Magpie Mine, Sheldon, Derbyshire. Peak Dist Mines Hist Soc Special Publication No 3.
  • <7> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1896-1900. OS County Series, 2nd edition (1st revision), scale 1:2500 (c. 25" to one mile). Derbyshire XXIII.9.
  • <8> Index: Council for British Archaeology (CBA). CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Card. Magpie Mine.
  • <9> Index: NDAT. 0080. 0080.
  • <10> Index: NDAT. 0081. 0081.
  • <11> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 2001. Scheduling Notification: Magpie Mine. 29976. Cat. No.: 233.
  • <12> Bibliographic reference: Barnatt, J. 2004. An Inventory of Regionally & Nationally Important Lead Mining Sites in the Peak District. Vol. 2: Corpus of Sites. No.64, pp 91-93.
  • <13> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Slide Collection. 430.6.
  • <14> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Black and white photograph collection. 529.6 (1960's); 530.1-3.
  • <15> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Colour photograph collection. Film. 530.1-2.
  • <16> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Slide Collection. 430.1-5.
  • <17> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Black and white photograph collection. 435.31-33.
  • <18> Bibliographic reference: Willies, L. 1974. The Reopening of Magpie Sough. Vol. 5, No. 6. pp 324-331.
  • <19> Bibliographic reference: Willies, L, Roche, V, Worley, N, and Ford, T. 1980. The History of Magpie Mine, Sheldon, Derbyshire.
  • <20> Index: NDAT. 0081. 0081.
  • <21> Index: Willies, L M. Peak Park Treasures C16.
  • <22> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D (ed.). 1997. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology. A Gazetteer of Sites. Part IV. Derbyshire Dales.



Grid reference Centred SK 17249 68118 (494m by 351m)

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Record last edited

Feb 24 2015 1:25PM

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