Magpie Mine

Magpie mine, an ancient and historic lead mine, near Sheldon in the Peak District, here having a bit of a winter solstice type moment. 

Magpie Mine sun flare 2

Lead smelting has been going on in Derbyshire for 3500 years  It a fascinating place,  let me give you a tour round, but let’s take care.

 Magpie Mine Notice_

There is something about the place that doesn’t feel quite right, I think it is the lack of accoutrements to the working life that once thrived here. It would have teamed with life,  there would have been noise, smoke, the rattle of harnesses as horses turned the gin wheel. But now It does feel rather eerie.

Magpie Mine buildings  2

You can almost feel the life it once had but not quite. It’s as though there is a life inside and below that we can never know.

Magpie Mine Back lit window_

Something going on behind these locked doors.

Magpie Mine door

As though the shadow of the gallows frame, might start to turn.

Magpie Mine Back Pit Head Shadows_

Mr Uphilldowndale however is less fanciful than me, he wants me to point out to you, how the lower section of  the chimney in this image is out of plumb* and when a later  brick extension to top has been built they’ve built it vertically, he’s forever the engineer.

Magpie Mine Laning Chimney_

We both admired the tunnel flu to this chimney, now partially collapsed

chimney magpie mine_

we admired the view too

Engine shed  magpie mine_

All around the site are the remnants of spoil from the mine, a bing 

 Magpie Mine Gate Spoil Heaps_

Spoil from lead mines, still poses a problem for farmers, and can kill livestock .  You can often see  clusters of trees, usually with walls around them,

spoil trees wall Magpie mine

the trees to cover the spoil with their roots,  and the walls as an added deterrent to livestock

 trees wall Magpie mine

Nature takes its course though and flowers and plants grow here that can tolerate the toxicity of the soil ‘metallophytes’,

plants such as the nationally scarce spring sandwort (known locally as leadwort) and alpine penny cress, and Pyrenean

survy grass and mountain pansy.

sky magpie mine_


*Plumb, did you see what I did there? [Middle English, lead, a plumb, from Old French plomb, from Latin plumbum, lead.]

17/2/16 Edit…   Lost and now found, the link that has to go with this post,  Peak District Mines Historical Society

7 thoughts on “Magpie Mine

  1. I appreciated the plumb reference as well as the edifice itself. I was taken down a bit of a lead mine shaft in Nenthead by an enthusiast once. I am glad that I wasn’t a lead miner. The locked door image was very good.

  2. I can never, ever, know what is going on “inside and below” a mining site. The thought of exploring there gives me the vapors.

    Those are, as always, extraordinarily evocative photos. I’m sorry to admit that I missed the plumb reference until it was pointed out to me. I am losing my touch. You are not losing yours.

  3. Now I’m thinking about certain phrases common in American English: plumb crazy, plumb nuts, plumb tired. Clearly, there’s something here to explore. “Plumb” in such senses clearly is idiomatic, but I’m not sure how it relates to plumb lines or plumb bobs. Well, except that another way of saying “crazy” is “half a bubble off center” — also a reference to a carpenter’s tool.

    When I read your title, I was greatly surprised by the subject matter of the post. I was sure it was going to be dedicated to the holiday — something like:

    Magpie mine,
    you’re a Valentine fine,
    your chattering call
    not a bother at all….

    And so on. But your photos are equally fine, and quite evocative. The chimneys remind me of the sugar mills in Louisiana and east Texas, when they process the sugar cane.

    1. I like the half a bubble of centre, I feel like that a great deal of the time! I’d not really thought where the name came from, I wonder if it has been called different names with the passing of time? a lovely poem…

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