A Successful Peak District Mine …
Millclose Mine was situated near the village of Wensley in the White Peak. It was probably the most successful of the Peak District mines because of the pipe veins running through the region. At the end of the life of the mine, it was about 300m deep. According to mindat.org, no fewer than twenty seven minerals have been identified here. A walk in the woods near Wensley reveals some surface remains of the mine.
Old Millclose Mine
The engine house, shaft, ruined buildings and earthworks of the Old Millclose Mine are now a scheduled ancient monument. The engine house was built in 1859 – 60 and housed a steam powered beam engine built in Burton-on-Trent. This operated for a little over a decade. It was moved to the New Millclose Mine, a distance of about 500 m away.
Millclose Mine – Rags to Riches!
In common with many Peak District mines, in the late 1850s, Millclose was running out of ore. A breakthrough into a rich ore vein completely changed its fortunes. This vein had many subsidiary flat veins and pipes leading off it , so Millclose continued another 60 years or so.
Caverns containing huge quantities of sphalerite (zinc ore) and galena (lead ore) in very pure states were found. Often, it took very little effort to mine them as they were of sedimentary origin. Underground water courses had eroded mineral veins elsewhere. The detritus was carried along underground and deposited where the flow slowed down in larger caverns. Fantastic crystals of calcite and galena were discovered, up to 30 cm in size.
A Watery End
In 1938 came the beginning of the end because miners hit an underground lake or river which flooded the mine. Mineral production was suspended as it took many months to pump the mine clear. The mine was finally closed in 1940 since there was still over 2000 litres of water per minute still pouring in.
In 100 years, Millclose mine produced well over half a million tons of lead ore and almost 100,000 tons of zinc ore. About half of the lead tonnage was actually produced in the 1920s with a further 140,000 tons by re-working the spoil heaps in the 1930s and 40s.
Lead production still takes place close by at a battery recycling factory.
We are not suggesting that you visit the remains of Millclose Mine. If you do, the responsibility is yours. We can accept no responsibility for your well being. You should ensure that the necessary permissions are sought and also take appropriate action to ensure your personal safety.