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Smallcleugh Flats Potter, Smallcleugh Mine (03/05/14)

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Not in the mood for doing a mad 10 hour epic to the further reaches of Brownley Hill mine, I managed to convince Karli for a more gentle excursion in to Smallcleugh, with the aim of trying to do a few things that we have missed over the years in the ever present rush to get to the back end of the place - he bought it. I wanted to have a look at the Waterblast Flat and to see the Flat Crosscut from Whit Hudson's Flat.

We headed in and took the Hard Crosscut and entered Northend Flats. Turning left we soon reached the north end of the flats and took some photographs slowly heading back south. Whilst in there, we saw some of the newly spray painted direction arrows we had heard about. Then saw more of them. What retard would do this? Surely the first port of call for finding out about details would be a Google search and you would soon hit plan details, or maybe the operative word is retard and that explains everything? As we reached the crosscut at the south end of the flats taking us back into the horse level we saw even more of the arrows, some even as close as 1m apart - the mind boggles.

Back in the horse level we soon reached Smallcleugh Flats, and then the route to get up into the Waterblast Flat. Around that area we had a bit of crawl around over the deads that are stacked close to the roof and it was amazing was turned up. Whilst looking at a small cavity, I noticed a tobacco pipe - for Smallcleugh in this area it was like finding hens teeth. After this we climbed up into the Waterblast Flat and were once again surprised by seeing a wheel barrow and some brush heads amongst other things. The flat followed the same dip as Incline and New Fan Flats as we followed the railed level along it. Soon we came to the forehead. Along the level there were a number of iron pipes and we presumed that this was where the flat got its name from, however thinking about it; they would have been more likely used for delivering air than water. After having a look around and taking photographs we dropped back down to the horse level, on the way down I noticed a large pile of nails that were all loose and not typically rusted together. Then it was over to Wheel Flats and a bite to eat.

After lunch, we picked up the crosscut that leads to what I have always thought to be Whit Hudson's Flat, which in fact is incorrect. On the couple of plans from the 1970's it is called this. There is also a London Lead Company plan that shows a flat in the same place called by the same name; however what it fails to show is that it lies below Smallcleugh and is accessed by a now filled in sump on the 1st Sun Vein, called Whit Hudson's Sump. Whit Hudson's flat is actually Brown's Flat (showed on one old plan) or rather more accurately Anthony Brown's Fault Workings (seen on yet another plan).

From Brown's Flat there is a crosscut (Flat Crosscut) that was driven to the flat from the Smallcleugh Cross Vein and the two connected via a short rise. This has recently been opened by Peter Jackson, Nick Green and Stu Curry. We entered the Flat Crosscut and had to wade through some water before reaching a stope. At the stope junction it looked like the crosscut would have gone on, but there was a fall in it or a rise had fallen in. Taking the left we worked our way along the stope coming to an old clog. Past this it carried on for a short while and then we had to climb up a short slope which brought us to a dead end in the form of stacked sandstone blocks. It was unclear on whether they were there to seal the stope or to support the rather fragile shale roof. Returning to the junction, we then tried the right side. This lead to a short upwards slope with a low roof and once past this we reached the top of large slope heading down. Going down it we saw a hole in the floor that was lined with arching. Looking through the arching we saw a level and a large shaft on the right hand side. It was possible to get past the shaft (it looked like some of the level floor had fallen away) and go further into the level. Once in the level barrow boards could be seen and some 10m on there was a fall. The shaft we estimated at around 20m. Back across and in the stope we had a look further along it, but it ended in a fall.

A number of questions come about from what we saw. The stope that we reached via the Flat Crosscut would logically seem to be on the Smallcleugh Cross Vein and below the horse level. There is also another factor to consider, on one of the plans I have seen, there are details of another flat along the Flat Crosscut, which is called Bell's Flat. This extends to the right and seems to coincide with the larger stope working we found in that direction. If this is the case then the stope would not be on the Smallcleugh Cross Vein. Only a survey would show the true location of it all. Next time.

All photographs by Karli.