mine is part of a wider complex that belongs to the Hunstanworth group of
mines. Originally the mine was worked for lead and was owned by the London Lead
Company from about 1715. The veins worked for lead were lean, however they did
have a particularly high silver content, which made them workable enterprises.
The London Lead Company was followed by a number of other companies, namely
Easterby, Hall and Company (1807 - 1810) and the Derwent Mining Company (1810 -
1883) who further pursued lead ore. In the 19th century deep shafts (Whiteheaps
Shafts and others) were sunk to the base of the Great Limestone for lead ore
extraction. The Derwent Mining Company ceased its operations in 1883 and no
further lead mining took place.
In the early 1920's the site was mined
for fluorspar by Hunstanworth Mines Ltd and this was continued until 1932.
During this period the fluorspar was obtained mainly from open cuts and
subsurface stopes. Afterwards, in the 1950's the Blanchland Fluor Mine Ltd,
which was owned by Colvills, a Scottish firm (heavy media plant which produced
gravel spa and gravel lead) took over production and supplied fluorspar to
Scottish steelworks. This was accessed through the main shaft at Whiteheaps.
When Colvills was nationalised, British Steel took over the site. In the mid
1960's the mill was rebuilt to include a floatation circuit and the Whiteheap
site was further developed. In the early 1970s, they then put incline down
which went down on to the 60 fathom under Skye Head shaft and worked the White
and Red Veins. Finally in 1979 British Steel sold the site, and Weardale Mining
and Processing Ltd (Minworth Minerals) took over operations and mined fluorspar
until known reserves were exhausted. They also bought Groverake Mine, Black
Dean Mine and more. Whiteheaps closed in 1987, and all of the workforce were
transferred to Groverake Mine.
Ferneygill, Ramshaw, Red and White are
the main veins that Whiteheaps worked. These were accessed by a number of
shafts and adits on multiple levels right down to the base of the Great
Limestone. Most of the site has been landscaped and many of the features are
destroyed or buried including the adits. Old OS maps refer to Low Whiteheaps
and High Whiteheaps.