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Report - Goldscope Slate Mine, Cumbria, September 2012

Discussion in 'Other Sites' started by Linden Pentecost, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. Linden Pentecost

    Linden Pentecost 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    These photos aren't the greatest, I didn't have my LED lights fixed back then so the ISO settings are higher, more grainy.

    Anyway. Goldscope is an old slate mine, not to be mistaken for the Goldscope Copper Mine in the Newlands Valley.

    The slate ''bands'' worked in Cumbria vary in quality and colour, the band worked at Goldscope is sometimes called the Dark Grey Band, as the slate here is indeed a dark colour. It was also quite crystalline, and hard, and thus difficult to split apart from using the traditional Cumbrian riving hammer.
    The Dark Grey band was also worked at Commonwood Quarry in Dunnerdale (report coming soon), although the adjacent quarries to Goldscope such as Cove and Walna Scar worked blue or green bands of volcanic slate.

    Anyway, Goldscope is pretty old, the underground workings are supposed to have originated possibly two centuries before 1700, the outcrop working probably around 1300. The original outcrop working was followed into the hillside to form a ''cave'' working, these are the oldest slate mines in the World and were in use long before the practice of driving adits to intersect the band/vein.

    I started my walk after a week of recovering from flu, I needed the fresh air, heading up the Walna Scar road from Coniston I was greeted by the great view of Dow Crag, before climbing towards the Walna Scar Quarry. A track from here lead up towards Goldscope:

    [​IMG]

    The track led beneath a large tip, this was not from the main Goldscope quarry but from an open quarry, and possible underground quarry just to the east. It's unlikely but not impossible that it linked with Goldscope underground:

    [​IMG]

    This is the small quarry, the rocks laying around might be the result of a collapsed Cave Working.

    [​IMG]
    ]Rainbow from the smaller quarry

    I skirted round the mountain a wee bit, reaching a number of buildings, one of which had the remains of a roof. A small bank of slate waste beneath the main bank might indicate a lower entrance to the underground workings. This seemed likely because inside, the chambering extended a fair distance beneath the main tramming area. This lower entrance was probably a lower entrance of the Cave Working variety, although it had long been filled in from tipping in more recent times.

    [​IMG]

    Lower level bank

    A higher bank above the main bank and the tarn seemed to be a cutting, although according to my book by A.D. Cameron, this was in fact a level, though it can't have been a big operation as there was very little material outside, it was probably an adit or drift from later times to work the closehead at a higher point. Either way it was far more modern than the original entrance:

    [​IMG]

    I head towards the original cave entrance:

    [​IMG]

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    The area immediately in front of me is obviously the original, ancient Cave Working, the bank/tipping line remains behind this clearly have filled in an original lower area of the cave, and were probably used to transport slate wagons to the portal. It's common in Cumbrian slate mines that the slate was dressed underground as opposed to outside, so the tramway which would have been built at a much later point probably extended from the back of the closehead, and not even as far as the entrance.

    [​IMG]

    The rail track soon appeared.

    [​IMG]

    Extending itself into a part of the closehead which was obviously worked more recently or had been altered recently (rail tracks like this didn't exist in the 1600s).

    [​IMG]

    From here what appears to have been an old sledging track lead upwards, across the backfilled chamber towards a higher level.

    I immediately came across the remains of a few wagons, clearly this upper working area was also more recent than the original Cave Working:



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A small level from this upper area head in the general direction of the collapsed upper entrance I had seen near the tarn. This was obviously made towards the end of the mine's life, when a tramway would have been easier to transport the slate through this level to a different tipping area, than it was to use a sledge track to take the slate down to the other tramway, and out of the original entrance.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Had the mine continued to operate, perhaps higher floors would have been opened up along the slate vein, although in its final days Goldscope was workied by just one man and his son.

    On my way out I was tempted to have a look at a possible lower cutting in the floor of the chamber, which could lead somewhere, however the entire area seemed to be covered in White Maggots, presumably a sheep had fallen down there in the dark or something, I didn't want to find out

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    General view of site, Goldscope is the upper quarry
     
    #1 Linden Pentecost, Dec 23, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012

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