Peak District Mines Historical Society. Image shows Magpie Mine - an ancient lead mine and agents cottage, now used as the PDMHS field centre.

Working Diary - Silence Mine, Great Hucklow, Derbyshire


Saturday 1st March 2008

A proper blustery March day. There was a gale-force wind blowing, but luckily it was blowing from the north, and we were protected in the lee of Hucklow Edge. It was our first real look at the site. We didn't have the tools and equipment with us to shift too much debris, but there was plenty of other work to do. Some saplings growing out of the ruins have been felled by the Great Hucklow people, but the brushwood had been left around the site. Given that it was a cold windy day, there was some considerable enthusiasm to light a bonfire, and to start clearing the debris around the site. Whilst this was taking place Dave Wright and Steve Thompson started excavating inside the "Roofed Chamber". The purpose of this chamber is unclear at present, but it has some circular scrape marks on the walls which suggest there was some sort of rotating machinery inside. Further work will, hopefully, make its function clearer. Peter Neville started removing some stones in what we presume to be the "Stoke-Hole". He eventually uncovered what appeared to be a stone mullioned window frame with the stones stapled together by iron brackets. Discussion, and the later discovery of Nellie Kirkham's field-notes from 1949, suggest that these stones formed a coal-hole hatch. At the end of the afternoon a fence around the excavations was erected.

Saturday 7th June 2008

A pleasant June day. Today were had the use of Terry Worthington's digger, so we were able to start excavating seriously. A certain amount of house-work had to be carried out first. The footpath through the site was diverted so that passing walkers were kept clear of the excavations. We had purchased a second wheelbarrow, so a tipping area was established and also a space made for stacking building stone dug from the site. With the help of the digger, various tree-stumps were cleared from inside the area where we will need to dig. We started digging in the "Stoke-Hole" and gradually the walls were delineated. We noted that some of the blocks adjacent to gaps in the walls were well dressed with neat radii on the edges. We also dug a trial pit where a sketch-plan, that had been discovered in the Record Office, showed the chimney to have been. However, we found no trace of the chimney. At the end of the day some steel hurdles, which had been supplied, were put up into a substantial fence, and a warning fence was put up along the miner's lane above the engine-house.

Saturday 5th July 2008

The pleasant afternoon proved to be an interlude between two periods of heavy rain. This meant that the early attendees got wet, and that the ground was quite muddy. Today, with the aid of the digger, we concentrated on the "Stoke-Hole" and the adjacent "Coal-Hole". A few days previously were had been given a scanned copy of Nellie Kirkham's fieldnotes from 1949. This included a site sketch which showed three chambers with arched roofs. We already had the “Roofed Chamber” and we could see, from a couple of springers, that the “Stoke-Hole” had had an arched roof. From the "Stoke-Hole" there appears to be a doorway into another area. We found the tops of the walls on three sides, and then started to dig the backfill out of this room. Eventually the fourth wall was discovered. A good amount of spoil, both soil and building stone, was cleared from this room (the “Coal-Hole”). We shall finish the excavation by hand on a future date. We now have a respectable amount of "ruins" to show. Dave Wright and Steve Thompson continued to excavate in the "Roofed Chamber". They were now digging deeper into a backfill of cinders.


Dave Wright, John Barnatt and Steve Thompson excavating in the entrance of the "Roofed Chamber"

Dave Wright, John Barnatt and Steve Thompson excavating in the entrance of the "Roofed Chamber"
Photo © D Williams

Brian Woodall and John Barnatt cutting the first 'sods' at Silence Mine - March 2008

Brian Woodall and John Barnatt cutting the first 'sods' at Silence Mine - March 2008
Photo © D Williams

Excavation gets under way. Terry Worthington with the hydraulic digging power, and Keith Gregory, Steve Nash and A.N. Other with the man-powered transport system

Excavation gets under way. Terry Worthington with the hydraulic digging power, and Keith Gregory, Steve Nash and A.N. Other with the man-powered transport system
Photo © D Williams

The walls of the "Coal-Hole" are gradually revealed. Phil Shaw looking on

The walls of the "Coal-Hole" are gradually revealed. Phil Shaw looking on
Photo © D Williams


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