Updated 25 May 2007

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Photo 520


Oxclose Mine, Snitterton.

Margaret Howard writes:
Dear John,

I thought that you might like a copy of this photo for your Wirksworth website, as the very tiny interesting hamlet of Snitterton (where there is a bull ring and bull baiting used to take place) lies just to the north west of Matlock and over the Bonsall parish boundary. There was a ford here for crossing the River Derwent, Roman remains have been found and there is a very interesting Elizabethan Manor House (Snitterton Hall) which is currently on the market for sale at three million pounds. An important family called Fearn(e) lived at Snitterton Hall (Eileen Kummel has the family tree).

In 1949 Derbyshire Stone Ltd., were "sparing" i.e looking for "spar" (a loose term that describes a lot of minerals that were found with with the lead deposits, such as barytes, calcite, fluorspar, zinc blende etc) the "hillocks" (which is the rubbish left behind by lead miners, as they only had the right to mine lead, all other minerals were the property of the land owner, and as such had to be left behind either below ground or on the surface, hence all the humps and hollows around mine shafts and across mining land - a very early type of industrial landscape!) on the Bagshaw Estate (Col. Bagshaw who owned Snitterton Hall leased the mineral right to the company) and they discovered the ruins of a old engine house and a deep shaft over three hundred feet deep. The company had a washing plant at Megdale at Matlock and were recyling the spoil heaps to reclaim the minerals that the miners hadn't been able to sell. They decided to open Oxclose up as a mine, building an engine house of breeze blocks which housed a cage and an engine (they used the engine of an old fire engine for this purpose) and the spar miners descended in a small cage, one could either get off at the two hundred foot level or descend to the bottom of the shaft at the three hundred foot level. It wasn't profitable and the mine was finally closed in New Year 1952.

This picture was taken by a member of my old caving club (O.M. Mines Research and Exploration Group) Alan Ashwell, from Shropshire who has kindly given me permission to send it to you. It shews another old caving friend Roy Buckley at the two hundred foot level when the cage was on it's way down. Derbyshire Stone Ltd. kindly let my club explore this old mine (whose earliest date can be dated to 1534, recorded in a Fearn Will that Eileen Kummel has a copy of) and we were lowered and raised on this cage - quite an experience.

Best wishes,

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