Archaeological excavations and conservation work were undertaken between 2000 and 2008 on this ‘lost’ 19th century mine. Lead has been worked at the site for centuries. Workings on the continuation of the vein westwards, Tideslow Rake, are first recorded in the 13th century.
A new large-scale mining venture at High Rake was conceived by William Wyatt in the 1830s. No one had ever succeeded in reaching potentially-rich vein deposits beneath a thick bed of toadstone. Thus, the plan was to widen and deepen a pre-existing 18th century shaft. This was already 87 fathoms (159m) deep and therefore steam engines were to be employed in a newly-built state-of-the-art mine, which was started in 1842. In 1843 a powerful Cornish-type two-cylinder 70/36-inch pumping engine of Sims type was installed. This was made by Messrs Graham and Co. at the Milton Iron Works, Elsecar, and was the largest of its type ever made outside Cornwall. In 1846-7 a 20-inch cylinder winding engine, which also powered two sets of roller crushers, was also installed. This was housed in a two-storey engine house and was purchased from Magpie Mine near Sheldon. Old maps and a photograph show there were also two other large buildings on site, one perhaps the mine office or managers house, and excavations to date have found a horse-drawn crusher, a large gin circle and the site of the capstan.
By 1852 the shaft had been deepened to over 120 fathoms (220m) and two levels driven but the base of the toadstone had still not been found. The venture was abandoned, which after selling of assets in 1853, shareholders had made a loss of over £18.000. The engines and all fixtures went to Mixon Mine in Staffordshire, at which time the boiler houses were demolished to remove the boilers. The remaining buildings and chimneys stood in ruins until the 1930s, when they were demolished and some of the stone used to build council houses in nearby Bradwell. Later, the hillocks were reworked for fluorspar and the site then used as a council tip.
By the late 20th century all that was clearly visible on surface was a large concrete cap over the shaft, a half buried crushing wheel and a few stone blocks. Thus it was decided that what was left of this once fine mine should be uncovered and conserved. The site lies next to a well-used footpath and low-key interpretation of restored foundations and other features will make a contribution to promoting the mining heritage of the Peak District.
The mine is sited at SK 1636 7775, near Great Hucklow, to the west of Windmill. There is informal laneside parking where the track following the rake workings leaves the lane, from where it is a short and easy walk.
The project was started by the conservation team of PDMHS in 2000 and ran until 2008. Following this archival research was carried out, and this culminated in the publication in Mining History (our Society Bulletin) in 2011. The account was written by John Barnatt on behalf of the PDMHS Conservation Team with contributions by Chris Heathcote, John Hunter and Dave Williams.
Details of the High Rake Bulletin can be found here.
To read Jim Rieuwert’s Historical Account, click this link