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Brownley Hill Mine, Nenthead, Cumbria.


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Brownley Hill mine was first worked for lead with silver being extracted as well, the earliest workings being via surface shafts on the Brownley Hill Vein. Records dated 1735 from the Greenwich Hospital indicate that the mine was of no real economic value at this time. In the middle of the 1700's the London Lead Company took out a lease for just under 20 years. They worked the Brownley Hill Vein in the Little Limestone and in the hazles above it, obtaining a considerable amount of ore, but they were prevented from mining deeper by water. To overcome the problem they drove the Brownley Hill High Level in the sills above the Great Limestone in an attempt to reach the Little Limestone gaining access to the bottom of old workings, however only a fraction of the expected ore was found. The company also tried the Brownley Hill Moss Cross Vein and Jug Vein, but due to poor ventilation they abandoned their undertakings in this area. In all, they gave up their lease before it was expired as the total current outlay on development brought forth very little in results.

At the end of 1765 a new lease was taken out by two man team who obtained a very large amount of ore from the cross Veins as well as the Brownley Hill Vein. The ore raised was sold to the London Lead Company. In 1795 the lease passed to the newly formed Brownley Hill Lead Company. This was a particular lucrative time as the price of lead increased dramatically due to the wars with France. When the price declined again the lease was sold on to another group in 1816, which continued to work the mine under the same name of the Brownley Hill Lead Company. The mine now was being worked for zinc as well lead. It is during this period that the mine started to really develop. The Bloomsberry Horse Level was driven and the previously worked veins were now being worked from below. The horse level extended out on Guddamgill Cross Vein, Wellgill Cross Vein, Brownley Hill North Vein, Brownley Hill Vein eventually reaching the Brownley Hill Moss Cross and Brownley Hill High Cross Veins as well as Jug Vein. The lead ore in the lower levels were much poorer than that obtained in the higher horizons, however the grade of zinc ore was very good and this contributed to the operations profitability. Production was maintained until the middle of the 1850's.

In 1869 the mine was operating under a different concern again, the Brownley Hill Lead Mining Company during this period the mine was closed for a while and then reopened again with the same workforce. In 1890 the company sold up the complete mining operation to the Nenthead and Tynedale Lead and Zinc Company who held the lease until 1894. At this time high grade lead ore was depleted and the Vieille Montagne Zinc Company took over the lease in 1914 shifting operations to the extraction of zinc ore. The mine operated until 1936. The last working of the mine was between 1964 and 1966; when the trial Slate Sill level was driven in the Slate Sills southeast of the Brownley Hill Moss Cross Vein.

Surface Features

Surface Features around the Brownley Hill mine site.

Updated 01/05/04.

First Exploration

Our first trip down the mine, checking it out.

(Charlie and Mike), May 2004. .

Round Trip to Jug Vein

A hell of a trip taking in the extreme reaches of the mine, with our guide Helen.

(Charlie, Helen, Mike), June 2004.

Compressor House and Hagg's Link

Compressor House and the Link to Nentsberry Hagg's Mine

After meaning to see this for the last 6 months, finally we get to see the compressor house.

(Karli, Mark and Mike), 21st November 2005.

Brownley Hill Potter

A sedate trip taking photographs and giving Karl an intro to the mine, visiting Hagg's Level, Engine Room, BH North, and the BH Middle Veins.

(Karl and Mike), 18th May 2007.

West High Cross Vein - Revisited

Another more detailed look at the workings on the West High Cross Vein.

(Colin, Ian, Karli, Mike and Student Pete), 20th August 2011.

Brownley Hill Middle Vein Flats and North Middle Vein

A close look at the North and North Middle Veins.

(Ian, Mike and Pete), 8th January 2011.

Brownley North Middle Vein / Guddhamgill Burn Cross Vein Intersection, Brownley Hill Vein and Tatlers String

Continuing our look at the BH North Middle Vein, a quick look up in the BH High Level, look up in BH Vein and Tatlers String.

(Alistair, Ian, Karli and Mike), 29th January 2011.

Brownley Hill Vein and Tatlers String

More exploration on the Brownley Hill Vein and Tatlers String including the High Level above it, finally the lay of the land is starting to make sense.

(Karli, Mike and Pete), 26th February 2011.

Brownley Hill Vein Forehead and Tatlers String

To the Brownley Hill Vein forehead, west side of Tatlers String including the High Level above it.

(Alistair, Mike and Pete), 26th March 2011.

West High Cross Vein

Our first look at the back end of Brownley Hill and the amazing stopes.

(Alistair, Karli, Mike, Pete and Sally), 29th April 2011.

Guddhamgill Cross Vein Stopes around the Crosscut to Wellgill Cross Vein

A look at the more difficult to reach stopes above the crosscut from the Engine Shaft on the way in.

(Ian, Karli, Mike, Sal and Pete), 10th March 2012.

Brownley Hill Round Trip

A visit to the south east end of the mine via the High Level round trip.

(Karli and Mike), 11th January 2014.

Brownley Hill Rigging and West High Cross Vein

Rerigging part of the access to the High Level and exploring the south end of West High Cross Vein.

(Karli, Mike and Pete), 1st March 2014.

Flats on the Brownley Hill Middle Vein

An introductary trip for Hannah, visiting the flats on the southwest end of Brownley Hill Middle Vein and the connection to Haggs.

(Hannah, Mark and Mike), 1st May 2016.