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Report - - Clay mine, Storrs Works, Loxley Valley, Sheffield, August 2020 | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Clay mine, Storrs Works, Loxley Valley, Sheffield, August 2020


HughieD

28DL Regular User
Regular User
1. The History
The story starts with a mining boom in north-west Sheffield and the mining and the production of refractory bricks, which began in the late 1800s. Some joked that it resembled the Wild West as people rushed to cash in from the ganister that lay below their land. Ganister clay was a good quality clay used for making the crucibles for smelting steel. Most of Earth's coal originated as trees. Ganister is the fossilised earth that these trees grew in. It’s also known as laminated clay as, unlike normal clay, it is almost resin-like. As hard as rock, it became a very sought-after material in South Yorkshire. With the advent of the iron and steel industry, it was used to make these furnaces so they could withstand the heat. The ganister was pulverised and then moulded into bricks. These “fire bricks” were then used to line the furnaces
Thus, during the industrial revolution in 1800s, the Loxley Valley became an important producer of refractory bricks for the Sheffield’s steel industry along with fireclay from Stannington’s pot clay mines. Pot clay was an ‘impure’ form of ganister. The ganister and fireclay mines supplied the local firms such as Siddons Brothers, Thomas Wragg and Sons and Thomas Marshall and Co.

In the 1930s there were a total of three firms in the Loxley Valley, the aforementioned Thomas Marshall’s and Thomas Wragg and Sons along with Dysons, producing hollow refractories. Between them, they supplied 95% of all the hollow refractories produced in Great Britain. When war broke out in 1939, the industry became vital to the war effort. If the Germans had bombed the Loxley Valley successfully, many believe that the war would have been over very quickly. As a consequence, there was a gun site on Wood Lane, Stannington, which shot down several Luftwaffe planes during the Sheffield Blitz. Post the war, all three plants closed following a collapse in demand for casting pit refractories, down to the introduction of continuous casting of steel worldwide and the general demise of the British steel industry.

Latterly and most recently Hepworths were the big producers of refractory bricks in the valley. Production ceased here in the 1990s and the ganister and pot clay mines closed.

2. The Explore
Or mini-explore to be honest. This place is hidden away in the woods behind where the now demolished Storrs Fire Clay Works were. An old six-inch map indicates there was an incline up from Storrs Fire Clay Works to near the adit, which was probably how the mine output was brought down. This tends to imply it was a fire clay mine rather than for ganister extraction, but it’s hard to say for sure.

Last time I can here the mine was partially flooded so this time I came equipped with wellies. However, the mine was much dryer. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get too far into the mine. After the brick section the wooden props start. These, understandably, have rotted overtime and there are a couple of collapses. While passable, it did look a bit sketchy so after that I decided the turn around and head out.

Shout out to @tarkovsky for bringing this place to my attention. His excellent report can be found HERE.

3. The Pictures



Going up the stairs to the right of the mine entrance:



Looks like Colorquix has been here some time ago:





Further along is another old Colorquix piece:







Into the mine we go:



The first part is a square brick construction:



The narrow-gauged tramway would have most likely been there for hand pushed trucks:



Next is a brick part with arched roof:



Looking back out:



Then we get to the wooden propped part that looks like something out of a wild-west goldmine:



And the two collapses. Time to turn around and head out:



 
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Down and beyond

The true source of englands wealth is coal
Regular User
Nicely done mate I like it , looks like they encountered a hudge fault line their , many mines have issues like that shortly into the addit as they are not at proper deph and reaches hard rock yet The timber is not strong enough shame they didn’t carry the brick on further and you could of safely got right into the workings
 

HughieD

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Nicely done mate I like it , looks like they encountered a hudge fault line their , many mines have issues like that shortly into the addit as they are not at proper deph and reaches hard rock yet The timber is not strong enough shame they didn’t carry the brick on further and you could of safely got right into the workings
Really nice this. Topside & bottomside winner :thumb
Cheers both. Much appreciated.
 

DaveFM

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Did this have quite a low roof? I've been in a fireclay mine and that had a very low roof only about 4 ft in places, becomes murder on your back if spending a long time unable to stand up straight in such a place.
 

alex17595

Down t'pit
28DL Full Member
Nicely done mate I like it , looks like they encountered a hudge fault line their , many mines have issues like that shortly into the addit as they are not at proper deph and reaches hard rock yet The timber is not strong enough shame they didn’t carry the brick on further and you could of safely got right into the workings
Usually the adits are the most unstable area because it's where the weather and freeze-thaw effect weakens the rock. Further inside the temp is constant.


Did this have quite a low roof? I've been in a fireclay mine and that had a very low roof only about 4 ft in places, becomes murder on your back if spending a long time unable to stand up straight in such a place.
Fireclay is mostly associated with coal measures so they probably were dug by coal miners following the clay seam, I'd expect they would be very used to it. It could also have been the 7 dwarves running the mine
 

HughieD

28DL Regular User
Regular User
*** UP-DATE ***

OK - THIS fantastic book arrived the other day and it's packed full of info, including some history on this place, so here's an up-date:

So, at last we have the proper name for the mine - it was a Pot clay mine and was known as Top Cabin mine. It was owned by local industrialists Wraggs and supplied potclay to their nearby factory at Storrs Fire Clay Works near Loxley, on a north-facing slope about the works. In 1947 a new underground haulage system was instaled which in turn led to an improved main road to the works. The mine was then extended a long way underground (over 1,200 yards). Electricity was also introduced to the mine around the same time. By the 1960s an individual miner could shift up to 10 tons of pot clay per shift. An outside tramway linked the mine with the works. While both mine and works prospered in the 1960s, in 1970 Wraggs were bought out by Gibbons. It was then sold on to General Refractories. In turn they became part. of G.R. Steins who then closed all operations in this area.

Source: "The Forgotten Mines of sheffield" by Ray Battye, published by Alister Lofthouse (2014)
 
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alex17595

Down t'pit
28DL Full Member
Sounds like some substantial workings down there. Now we need a local maniac to send down there past those collapses.
 

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
*** UP-DATE ***

OK - THIS fantastic book arrived the other day and it's packed full of info, including some history on this place, so here's an up-date:

So, at last we have the proper name for the mine - it was a Pot clay mine and was known as Top Cabin mine. It was owned by local industrialists Wraggs and supplied potclay to their nearby factory at Storrs Fire Clay Works near Loxley. On a north-facing slope about the works. In 1947 a new underground haulage system was instaled which lead to an improved main road to the works. The mine was entendeda long way underground (over 1,200 yards). Electricity was also introduced to the mine around the same time. By the 1960s an individual miner could shift up to 10 tons of pot clay per shift. An outside tramway linked the mine with the works. While both mine and works prospered in the 1960s, in 1970 Wraggs were bought out by Gibbons. It was then sold on to General Refractories. In turn they became part. of G.R. Steins who then closed all operations in this area.

Source: "The Forgotten Mines of sheffield" by Ray Battye, published by Alister Lofthouse (2014)
Good update. 10 tons of clay a shift, thats a huge amount isnt it?
 

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