30/08/2013 - Permalink

Opening ceremony for restored equipment at Snailbeach Lead Mine

Related topics: Community

A ceremony is due to take place on Saturday 31 August 2013 to open two pieces of newly-restored equipment at Snailbeach Lead Mine. 

The pieces of mineral-processing machinery have recently been restored, using their original metalwork, by Shropshire Mines Trust member Barry Ellis. 

They have now been reinstalled in their original position, under a new building built by Shropshire Council, to protect them from the weather. 

An opening ceremony to mark the occasion is due to be held at 1pm on Saturday. 

The Hartz jig and spiral classifier were used to separate and clean Barytes mined at Snailbeach and were in operation until the early 1950s.  An archaeological survey in the early 1990s, together with old photographs, has allowed the placement to be almost identical to the original. 

As part of continuing work to preserve and restore the buildings and mines at Snailbeach, the council also recently completed work on the Black Tom area.  Before 2011, the site of the Black Tom shaft was not open to the public as it had only been made safe as part of the work carried out in the 1990s. 

The shaft was restored in 2011 and is open to view.  An impressive full scale replica of the original headgear, used for hauling material up the shaft, has been built. 

The original corrugated tin winding engine house from early last century remains and is accessible to the public.  The worn grooves from decades of cables can still be seen in some of the woodwork. 

The project, managed by Shropshire Council’s outdoor recreation service, has cost in the region of £35,000, with the majority of the funding coming from English Heritage and other grants. 

Much of the work has been carried out by the council’s historic environment team in partnership with Shropshire Mines Trust and the South Shropshire Training Initiative, whose members and trainees have volunteered many hours of their time at evenings and weekends to help complete the work. 

Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member responsible for tourism, said:

“Snailbeach mine is a significant historical site in Shropshire, which is believed to date back to Roman times.  It’s great news that these projects have been completed, which make the mine an even more interesting and worthwhile place to visit.” 

Heather Kidd, local Shropshire Councillor for Chirbury and Worthen, added:

“The history and heritage these mines give to the area are really important to local families whose relatives worked in and around them.  I am particularly pleased that Mrs Chidley, who saved many of the buildings from demolition in years gone by, is here to cut the ribbon.  Her relatives also worked in the mines.” 

Further information

Barytes, or Barite as it is now more commonly known, is a dense white mineral, chemically Barium Sulphate (BaSO4).  Its main use was originally as an inert, white filler in paper, paint and other materials where the density added perceived value to the product. Shropshire was a major British producer of Barytes with an output of around 500,000 tons.  No longer mined in the UK, the mineral is now a significant constituent of oil drilling muds.