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Report - - Groverake Headgear, Durham - November 2016 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Groverake Headgear, Durham - November 2016


WildBoyz

Is this the future?
Regular User
History

Originally, we had no intention of posting this as most of the portals to the mines have been sealed, so we didn't manage to get any underground photos this time round. However, after seeing a post by @Oxygen Thief about the possible fate of the headgear, we thought it might be nice to do a post because, sadly, there's every chance it might not exist in a month or so. For those of you who don't know, this is the last surviving headgear in County Durham.

Groverake Mine is located at the junction of Groverake, between Allenheads and Rookhope. Mining in the area predates the seventeenth century, but major redevelopment, which included the sinking of two shafts on the Red and Groverake veins to reach levels in and below the Great Limestone, was started by the Beaumont Company in the late eighteenth century. Following the departure of Beaumont, the mine was purchased by the Weardale Lead Company which worked the area for fluorspar and lead, up until 1940. Problems with the treatment of the fluorspar ores to remove silica limited the success of mining during this period and led to the subsequent sale of the site.

Much more successful operations followed during the Second World War, when Blanchland Fluor Mines Ltd., and later British Steel, purchased the site. During the British Steel tenancy, the Rake level was driven northward from the area of the shafts to access the upper levels of both the Red and Groverake veins, and the Firestone dib (a local term for decline) was put in to access lower levels of the same veins. Although these tunnels never interconnected with the shaft-accessed workings, they are considered to be part of the Groverake Mine complex.

In the end, fluorspar deposits on both veins proved rich, and the mine became one of the top fluorspar producers in County Durham during the latter half of the century. Following the collapse of British Steel in the early 1980s, the mine was acquired by Weardale Minerals and Mining, whose parent company, Minworth Ltd. was itself forced into receivership in 1991. The mine was later purchased by Sherburn Minerals and worked until the summer of 1999. At the time of its final closure, Groverake Mine was the last commercial fluorspar mine operating in the North Pennines.

Today, the majority of the buildings have been demolished because they were deemed unsafe by the current owners of the land. The last mining headframe in County Durham still stands, despite being due for demolition in September 2016. ‘The Friends of Groverake’ launched a proposal to take on a twenty-five-year tenancy of the land, in an effort to save this important piece of industrial heritage; however, they have only been given to the end of the week to raise £18,000 to secure the survival of the headgear. If they are unable to raise the money in time, the headgear will be demolished. If you share concern about Durham’s important mining history, you can make a quick donation on their website at http://groverake.com/.

Our Version of Events

Wanting to take a look at the Groverake headgear one last time, because its future looks fairly bleak, we made our way towards the North Pennines bright and early. As ever with this site, access wasn’t a problem; only some minor dodging of sheep was necessary. Down at the bottom though, we had to bide our time before climbing the headgear, since there were a group of other photographers lurking around its base – and they didn’t look like they were about to climb it themselves. Pretending to take photographs of the crumbling buildings surrounding the great structure, we waiting for them to fuck off.

Eventually, after taking many, many photos of crumbling brick, muddy floors and broken rooves, the small party of snappers got the hint and set off back towards their car. As soon as they drove away, we made our move, before anyone else could come along and give us grief about ‘how dangerous the structure is’, or why we shouldn’t be doing what we were planning on doing. So, despite the missing staircase, we cracked on and it wasn’t long before we were all gathered on the lower levels of the headgear. Much to our surprise, it was still solid; much more so than it looked, so we made our way straight to the top.

Atop the headgear, the views were fantastic. We could see for miles across the barren landscape of the North Pennines. Unfortunately, though, it didn’t take long for another group of people to turn up. This time, however, they’d stopped their car in the middle of the road and seemed more interested in pointing and taking photos of us. Doing our best to look as though we were supposed to be standing on top of the headgear, we ourselves pointed at various bits of cable and broken metal, and folded our arms authoritatively, to deter them. Naturally, it didn’t work, and the folk at the roadside continued to steal pictures of us. Deciding that we’d pushed our luck for the day, and that we’d quite like to confront the happy snappers, it wasn’t long before we set about descending the structure. But, regrettably, by the time we’d reached the bottom they’d hastily hopped back into their car and did one, nearly crushing a sheep in their attempt to escape.

And that was that really, that’s as interesting as our version of events gets this time round. So, with little else to do out in the middle of nowhere, we jumped back in our own car and headed for the nearest pub.

Explored with Meek-Kune-Do, Rizla Rider and The Hurricane.

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(The above photographs do not belong to us, you can find them here: http://www.aditnow.co.uk/Photo/Groverake-Headgear_22900/)

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Idle Hands

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Nicely shot as ever there :thumb

It's a shame these might be felled soon, though I'm still not sure what the apparent rush to do it is.
 

WildBoyz

Is this the future?
Regular User
Thanks folks.

Nicely shot as ever there :thumb

It's a shame these might be felled soon, though I'm still not sure what the apparent rush to do it is.
Nor do I to be honest, it's not like they're short of space out there...

I did hear someone moaning about 'health and safety' conditions that need to be taken into account.

nice stuff,
there always in a rush to get rid of our industrial heritage. :(
Sadly, you are right.
 

dave

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
It looks like the office / locker rooms etc building has been demolished probably after the recent fire. It is a bleak place but also very beautiful, you have captured very well. Ive spent hours wandering around this site over the years above and below ground too. There is a small opening at the top of the shaft under the headstock and with a decent torch you can see well down it makes for a good photo too.
 

WildBoyz

Is this the future?
Regular User
It looks like the office / locker rooms etc building has been demolished probably after the recent fire. It is a bleak place but also very beautiful, you have captured very well. Ive spent hours wandering around this site over the years above and below ground too. There is a small opening at the top of the shaft under the headstock and with a decent torch you can see well down it makes for a good photo too.
Thanks :thumb Yeah, I was surprised at how much it had all changed to be honest. Been a few years since I'd been over that way though. I agree with you, the area looks very bleak, but it's beautiful at the same time.
 

Idle Hands

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
I did hear someone moaning about 'health and safety' conditions that need to be taken into account.
There's always someone moaning about that sort of thing sadly... it felt solid enough when I climbed up it in a shroud of mist and drizzle the other new year's eve. Makes you wonder how somebody else raising £18k for a 25 year lease will alleviate those concerns. Probably costs more to demolish than anything else they might do to protect it!
 

WildBoyz

Is this the future?
Regular User
There's always someone moaning about that sort of thing sadly... it felt solid enough when I climbed up it in a shroud of mist and drizzle the other new year's eve. Makes you wonder how somebody else raising £18k for a 25 year lease will alleviate those concerns. Probably costs more to demolish than anything else they might do to protect it!
Totally agree with you.
 

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