Updated 14 Jan 2007

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Photo 504


Taken 1999. Modern reconstruction of an old "Jigging frame"

How it was done in 1550

Goodluck Mine, Jigging Frame

Chris Newall writes:
In 1999 we visited the Goodluck Mine in company with Joe Gould, a local lead-mining expert, who had kindly borrowed the key from the owner Ron Amner.

Since the mine entrance was 'rediscovered' by Ron Amner and Jim Rieuwerts in 1970 the area around the entrance and powder house has been cleared and a reconstructed ore jigging frame and stowe have been installed.

The Jigging frame was used in lead mining as a concentrating device to seperate the lead ore from the gangue (waste minerals found with the ore).

Lead ore was mined and brought to the surface where it was sorted and broken in to pieces about the size of a pea, usually by women or boys. These were then sieved in a vat of water. The sieve was immersed in the vat, and at the same time agitated, by means of a JIGGING FRAME. During this operation the lighter rock and gangue minerals were partially seperated from the heavier lead ore, and were skimmed off and thrown on the hillock. The size of the sieves varied, being sometimes 3/8 inch diameter mesh, and sometimes 1/4 inch. This ore was known as peasy ore, and the material passing through the sieves, smitham (finely powdered ore) or offal (waste).

Could this be the origin of the modern expression "easy peasy"?

The introduction of the sieve into Derbyshire is usually attributed to William Humphray in 1565, but a counterclaim is for Burchard Kranich who used the method about 1530. It is said that over 2,000 poor people made their livliehood by sieving the old hillocks (piles of waste). Previously a good deal of fine ore had been discarded, having only been dressed by hammers, so this would explain why so many people found it profitable to rework the old hillocks.

Photo taken:1999
Source:"Base Lead and Shining Silver" by C.E.Newall.
The History of the HALL family 1700-1940
of Middleton-by-Wirksworth and Sheffield.
Published by Wild Oat Books 2006.
33 Elm Grove Road, Ealing, London W5 3JH
ISBN 0-9552046-1-5 and 978-0-9552046-1-6

Click on photo for enlargement (on CD only)
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