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Hudgill Burn Mine, Nenthead, Cumbria.

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Prior to the discovery of the Hudgill Burn Veins, the area had attracted the attention of prospectors due to the fact that it lied in the same line as the High Raise and Nentsberry Veins to the North East and the Nattrass Redgroves, Fairhill, Flowedge, Dowpot Syke and Crag Green Veins to the South West side of Middle Fell. The London Lead Company started a trial level in 1770, driving below the Firestone Sill. It tested 460m of ground, but missed the most important veins due to running in the clay.

John Walton, James Pearson and Partners drove the Hudgill Burn Level in around 1800, they trialled around 1000m, driving what is now known as the North Waggon Way and the Hudgill Burn Waggon Way Levels. They also sank two shafts from the surface for ventilation and a trail shaft from the level to the Four Fathom Limestone. Only two poor veins were cut and 1808 saw the partners abandon their trials. In 1812 John and Jacob Wilson took over the mine and with their experienced miners revamped the original levels and continued driving the level in a new heading bearing towards the south east. In April 1814, they cut a vein 60cm wide and a little further south another. A rise was driven into the low flat horizon of the Great Limestone and the veins where found to be filled almost completely with cerrusite. To the west both veins became poorer, but to the east they converged and became one of the richest veins on Alston Moor - Hudgill Burn Vein. The vein was worked to the east for another 200m, before it spit up again and became poorer.

Driving a further 100m south, the level cut into the Hudgill Burn Sun Vein in about 1816. The vein was poor in the west and to the east much richer. It is with the discovery of this vein that a rise driven into the Great Limestone revealed the network of natural caverns Hudgill Burn Mine is famous for. Over the next years driving further south, the Hudgill Burn 2nd, 3rd and 4th Sun Veins were discovered. In July 1830, whilst working the 4th Sun Vein, the miners broke into the Galligill Syke Workings and a dispute started between the Hudgill Burn and Galligill Well companies. In 1820, attention was once more brought to the North Waggon Way Level that was started by Walton and Pearson and this was extended a further 200m to the west. It cut three minor veins, but no mining was carried out.

Hudgill Burn Mine worked from 1814 to 1870, producing a total of 55520 tonnes of lead concentrates. The ore was richer in silver than other mines around Nenthead and yielded 370g of silver per tonne of lead. The grade of lead concentrates averaged out at 71.5%.

The Eden Braes Level was driven in 1820 from the side of the river Nent and intended to try the veins at lower horizons than previously possible. The level was driven in the plate under the Natrass Gill Hazle and cut the Hudgill Burn Cross Vein at 270m. The cross vein was trialled for 260m as well as having a sump sunk to the Three Yard Limestone, but ultimately proved to be unsuccessful. The drive continued in until it cut Jacob Teasdale's Cross Vein at 460m from the portal. Extensive trials were made to the north and south totalling around 580m. A further 740m of workings were driven past Jacob Teasdale's Cross Vein, which eventually connected with the Hudgill Burn, Hudgill Burn Sun and Hudgill Burn 3rd Sun Veins. There are no records of production but the veins encountered must have been encouraging to justify the amount of work carried out.

The Firestone Level that was driven cut the North Vein, Hudgill Burn and 1st Sun Veins, with a total drive length of around 650m. The distance and lack of workings possibly indicate a failure in locating any ore bodies at that horizon.
In the 1850's, the Coal Pit Level was driven to try the ground between the North Waggon Way and main levels but only one minor vein was encountered. The level only extended for 230m.

Surface Features

Surface Features around the mine site.

Updated 02/12/13

Photography Trip

Our (apart from Pete's) first visit to the mine that was opened up by CATMHS.

(Karli, Mark, Mike, Pete and Sal), 1st December 2013.