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Swinhope Mines, Swin Hope, East Allendale, Northumberland.

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The Beaumont Company started working the Swinhope Mines primarily on the Williams Vein, which is the continuation of the Barneycraig Vein in the Swinhope Valley. The vein was first worked by shaft and horse level, via the Swinhopehead Whimsey and Swinhopehead Level, which intersected each other. This part of the workings was developed between 1809 and 1814.

The Swinhope Low Level was started around 1814 and was driven to intersect the bottom of Swinhopehead Whimsey. The Low Level intersected various horizons in the strata, crossing the Little Limestone, the Low and High Coal Sills and the Great Limestone. The vein was barren for the first 860m from the low level portal and only past this it started to be productive right up to the West Allen boundary. Most of the lead ore was gained from the Great Limestone, with a little from the Coal Sills and the Little Limestone. A new vein, the North was also driven as a crosscut from the horse level, but it was poor in galena and subsequently abandoned. It however was strongly mineralised with sphalerite, which was reworked in 1896 by the Vieille Montagne Zinc Company. The low level eventually connected with the Barneycraig Mine and the Barneycraig Horse Level. The very western end also worked the Whitewood Vein north of Williams Vein via three crosscuts.

A number of exploratory levels were driven to find other veins. Struther Sike Level was driven northwards below the Pattinson Sill to try and find the Low Coalcleugh Vein in which it failed, only ever cutting several strings. It was started in 1825, abandoned 1829, and then restarted in 1874, and again abandoned in 1878. Deepcleugh Level was driven southeast under the Firestone Sill. It was said to have crossed a strong vein, but no information can be found regarding this. It was started in 1818 and abandoned in 1822, having been driven a total of 503m with two airshafts. A trial level was also driven above the Firestone Sill, but its horizon was too high to obtain any decisive results. Another old level, Groove Sike was driven on top of the Firestone Sill and a line of shafts indicates the supposed line of a vein, but no information can be found for further details.

The mine was reopened in 1951-1952 on behalf of Durham Chemicals Ltd and ore was extracted from the North and Williams Veins. Some 4500 tons was shipped to the company's plant in Birtley and it yielded 4% lead and 8% zinc. However, the distance that the ore had to travel made the operation uneconomic.

In 1955, New Consolidated Goldfields Ltd took over the mine with the object of exploring the large area of the Great Limestone between Barneycraig / Williams Vein, Killhope Veins and Allenheads Mine. With the old horse level being too small for modern machinery, a 32° incline was driven from Swinhopehead intersecting the crosscut from the horse level and North Vein. From the North Vein an exploratory level was driven heading south east in the direction of Killhope Law. This level cut a number of veins; the No 1 Vein, which proved to be a branch vein leaving Williams Vein, the No 2 Vein, the 6040 Vein (named after the distance of the drive 6036ft / 1.84km) and the 7330 Vein (7329ft / 2.23km). Only the No 1 and 2 Veins yielded any ore and the remaining two proved to be poor and heavily oxidised due to the being watered. When the veins were broken into, reports say that the water flowed from then for two months. The project was abandoned in 1960, after a total drive of 2.29km.

Shortly after the New Consolidated Goldfields project was abandoned, the possibility of a joint venture with Settlingstones Mine Ltd and the Weardale Lead Company came about. They planned to extract proved high grade ore for milling. 2400 tons of ore were treated at a small floatation plant and recovery was 6.1% lead and 5.0% zinc. A further 129 tons of ore were also treated in an efficient gravity plant, which recovered 11.1% lead and 5.4% zinc. However, it became evident that the small scale of operation at Swinhope could not be made profitable and the mining operation closed.

Since the closure of the mine, the site has been used as a dumping ground for waste from the reopening of Allenheads Mine and later on when British Steel ran out of space to tip deads at Groverake, the deads ended up being tipped on the site of the incline.

Swinhope Low Level Surface Features

Views of the landscape and buildings around Swinhope Mine.

Updated 29th September 2013.

Swinhopehead Surface Features

Views of the landscape and buildings around the Swinhopehead Mine workings.

Updated 29th September 2013.