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Stanhopeburn Mine, Stanhope, Weardale, Durham.

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Stanhopeburn Mine was first worked for lead ore and has a long history of being worked by many different companies. The earliest records show that it was first worked by the London Lead Company and then by Lord Carlisle in the early to late 18th century. It was during this period that Clint's and the Lord Carlisle's Water Level's were driven to work the Crawley and Rippon Veins.

The London Lead Company acquired a lease again at the beginning of the 19th century and they developed the Widley Water Level. At the same time the Shield Hurst Level was being driven by a small partnership. The Shield Hurst Level was following one of the minor trending veins of the same name and eventually it broke into the Red Vein in around 1820. Further development of the Widley Water Level saw the sinking of a shaft to the Low Level extending the workings to the Three Yard Limestone.

In 1866 the lease passed to The Beaumont Company and they drove the Shield Hurst Level westwards until strong materialisation was encountered, mostly working in and above the Great Limestone. Concentrates of lead ore were poor but they did discover a lot of rich fluorspar bearing ground, however this was of no interest to them. Finally in 1879 the Beaumont Company stopped operations.

At the beginning of the 20th century in 1906 the Weardale Lead Company opened the mine again and started extracting the fluorspar proved by the Beaumont's. Most of the spar came from in or above the Great Limestone, but some workings did reach the Firestone Sill and below the Great Limestone. During this period the mine became the leading fluorspar producer in the area, however the spar produced was not of the highest grade due to the simple gravity plants used. This ultimately caused production to decrease and by 1937 it had stopped. The mine briefly opened again between 1939 and 1940 and was operated by a local company, Beaston and Elliot.

At the start of the 1940's economical conditions were favourable and the mine was taken over by the newly formed Fluorspar Ltd to produce metallurgical and acid grade spar. Most of the reserves above the Shield Hurst Level at this point were exhausted and their attention turned to the lower levels. Widley Water Level was refurbished as it had collapsed, so that the lower workings could be drained. A new shaft was sunk at the west end of the Shield Hurst Level where a new bottom level called Poole's Level was driven, which eventually connected with the Widley Water Level. Fluorspar Ltd operated the mine until 1964 and then Laporte Chemicals Ltd took over who considered it was not worthwhile to carry on operations and closed the mine down.

In 1971 Ferguson Wild and Company Ltd started to work the mine and they refurbished the Widley Water Level and the new shaft in the west end of the Shield Hurst Level. However, before any significant production could be started Swiss Aluminium UK took over the lease. Swiss Aluminium UK undertook an ambitious program to help increase the production and output from the mine. The Shield Hurst Level was straightened and the underground shafts refurbished so that ore could be extracted and brought to the surface more easily. The depth of the workings was extended as far as the Tynebottom Limestone, but much of the fluorspar extracted came from the old London Lead Company stopes. After 1982 and the onset of the collapse of the fluorspar market Swiss Aluminium UK stopped working the mine and it was taken over by a subsidiary of Minworth, a Derbyshire company. No further working was carried out and the main level was closed.

Stanhopeburn Mine Surface Features

Photographs of the surface remains around the Stanhopeburn Mine.

Updated 13/07/11.