Mr R.Smith’s report of Bewerley Mines – November 30th 1818
To Sir Frederick Fowke Bart and others, trustees under the will of the late Sir Thomas Woollaston White Baronet.
In compliance with your request I have examined the mines and veins of lead lying in and under the freehold estate of the late Sir Thomas W. White Bart. situate in the township of Bewerley and also the Commons and waste grounds within the said manor and now beg leave to transmit my report of the same as they respectively came within my notice.
The Stoney Grooves Mine is stated by Mr Rodham’s plan to extend in horizontal length the distance of 715 fathoms. The random of this vein which is commonly called the Black Vein is nearly from North West to South East and is deposited in a perpendicular position. It appears that about 484 fathoms from the east end has been wrought in former times to the depth of about 50 fathoms by virtue of a level called Stoney Grooves Level is now productive of a very trifling income. Merryfield is a work upon the random of the same vein to the eastward and belongs to Mr Yorke of Bewerley Hall, who has let it to a Mr Horner. The latter gentleman is now getting the Merryfield Mine by means of another level called Colledge Level brought up from a lower part of Ashfold Gill and commanding a depth of 21 fathoms below the Stony Grooves Level. This was continued along the Merryfield Vein about 90 fathoms westward, when on account of its impoverished state at that depth and in that direction it was discontinued. It was afterwards extended 150 fathoms eastward when Mr Yorke was induced to drive another level from a still lower part of Ashfold Gill and which was called Storey’s Level. This commanded 11 fathoms below the Colledge Level and was, continued eastward into Merryfield Hole which is within from 60 to 70 fathoms of Stoney Grooves eastern boundary. So that if by any arrangement with Mr Yorke the Storey’s level could be continued to Stoney Grooves it would release from water the very considerable length of 715 fathoms of the random of that vein and 32 fathoms in perpendicular depth.
Report states that when the Stoney Grooves Mines were wrought down to the present level that the sole was left exceedingly rich.
Mr Yorke has since caused another level to be driven from a still lower part of Ashfold Gill which is called Yorke Level and this has gained 11 fathoms more, but this level has been driven with exceedingly slow progress and is now short of Merryfield Hole about 400 fathoms and about 470 from Stoney Grooves. The wonderful Level was driven by the late Sir T.W. White Bart from a still lower part of Ashfold Gill with a view to drain the Providence and Prosperous mines and the forefield of that level has already being carried in the latter to within 30 fathoms of the Merryfield boundary and Mr Horner lessee of the work is now driving it still nearer. This is calculated to win 20 fathoms of the whole extent of Merryfield mines below the Yorke Level so that it is of the greatest importance to Mr Yorke and his lessee Mr Horner (who I presume is that same Mr Horner who is lessee in the Prosperous Mines).
I mentioned this for be purpose of showing you the importance of interposing in due time to prevent the junction of these workings viz. the Merryfield and Prosperous by the forefield of this level before an attempt has been made by you to gain a corresponding advantage from Mr Yorke by his causing the Storey’s Level to be driven into the Stoney Grooves and finally the Wonderful Level (if ever continued to Merryfield Hole) to be extended also to the same place. By this regulation the Stoney Grooves Mine might in process of time be wrought as follows:
By the Colledge Level 21 fathoms
Storey’s Level 11 fathoms
Yorke Level 11 fathoms
Wonderful Level 20 fathoms
63 fathoms below its present depth
I am informed that Mr Horner the lessee of the Prosperous Mines is also lessee of the Stoney Grooves for an unexpired term of about 15 years and that that gentleman has stipulated to continue the Wonderful Level to Stoney Grooves but for want of a better acquaintance with the leases I cannot vouch for the correctness of this statement. Whether this be so or not, and Mr Horner has a lease of the Prosperous, the Merryfield and the Stoney Grooves which are all upon the random of the same vein, it is of the greatest consequence to him that the Wonderful Level should be forced through the Prosperous into the Merryfield Mine and which would release an extent of vein sufficient to employ his family for another generation without devoting any attention to their engagements under the late Sir Thomas W. White.
The Prosperous Mine comprises about 120 fathoms of horizontal length of the random of the Black Vein and has been partially wrought to the depth of 48 fathoms by virtue of the Wonderful Level. The vein is now being got 14 fathoms below by means of a lifting pump worked by a water wheel which raises the water into the Wonderful Level. The produce of this mine has been on the decline when compared with same seven months of the preceding year in the proportion of 31 to 40 but when compared with the seven months preceding April of this present year it has increased in the proportionate of 31 to 26.
The Providence Mine is another part of the Black Vein ranging from the Prosperous eastward to the Sunside Pasture. I am informed that this work is under lease to Mr Cunliffe subject to a conditional rent of £250 the annum. This I understand is only payable when it can be proved that the lessee has actually gained that sum within each year and as there can be no doubt of that fact (if I may judge from the present appearance of the richness of the vein saying nothing of any surplus) I suggest the propriety of its being demanded.
The random of the Black Vein upon the Sunside Pasture from the workings of the Providence Mine eastward to Vipont’s land (belonging to Mr Cunliffe) is stated upon Mr Rodham’s plan to be 198 fathoms and which is capable of being wrought to a depth of 48 fathoms by the Wonderful Level and afterwards to a considerable depth below by means of the water wheel in the Prosperous Mines which is now at work. But this desirable object can only be accomplished by a good understanding between the Prosperous and Providence companies who it appears are joint lessees of the Sunside Pasture. The Sunside being all maiden ground and apparently rich in ore the stipulations of the leases should immediately be enforced for the purpose of enlarging the duty revenue, it as much as a considerable increase might be expected from this part of the mineral property. It has been stated that the lessees cannot agree upon a plan of working the Sunside Pasture, therefore it might be prudent for the trustees to interfere. It may not be improper here to remark that if Mr Horner is to be admitted to partake of the uninterrupted advantages of his lease on the one hand by being allowed to take possession of the Sunside Pasture etc that his stipulations on the other ought strictly and promptly to be enforced, by his being compelled forthwith to drive a level into the Stoney Grooves either in the way before proposed by extending the Storey’s Level from Merryfield Hole or in the manner set forth in his lease.
Vipont’s estate. The random of the black Vein is supposed to be from the Sunside Pasture eastward through Mr Cunliffe’s estate called Vipont’s (let under lease to the Province Co.) 110 fathoms, to the Green Moor belonging to the late Sir T. W. White through which it continues its random eastward 110 fathoms to some freehold property belonging to sundry persons 330 fathoms to an estate late belonging to Richard Ward but now of you as the trustees of the late Sir T. W. White 126 fathoms (the whole of which is very rising ground) to an estate eastward called Bail Bank belonging to the late Sir John Ingleby 247 fathoms (also rising ground) to the turnpike road leading from Greenhow Hill to Pateley through certain freeholds belonging to the late Sir T. W. White without intermission to the Spirit Level being 880 fathoms. From whence the random of the Black Vein appears to be towards Guy’s Cliffe belonging to Mr Yorke. It will most probably be recollected that a proposal has been made by some persons to drive a level from Nanny Knowles Wood with a view to cut the Black Vein near that part of Sir Thomas’ estate where it has been represented that the random of the vein crosses the turnpike road leading from Pateley to Greenhow Hill being a distance of 330 fathoms. From thence to continue the same level to the North and south Coldstones and Sunside veins being an average distance of 1342 fathoms more making in all 1672 fathoms from Nanny Knowles Wood.
But this is stated to be capable of winning the Coldstones, Sunside and Greenhow Hill veins to the depth of 66 fathoms below the present Cockhill Level. I however beg to suggest a different plan for proving and getting that part of the Black Vein which has been proposed to be wrought by a level from Nanny Knowles Wood and I do so under the same impression that the random of the vein is as has been stated from the turnpike road to the Spirit Level. I therefore submit for the consideration of the trustees or for their lessees of that part of the vein (if they should hereafter think proper to lease the same) that a level be commenced on the random of the vein at the foot of White’s Wood eastward which is about 110 fathoms from the Spirit Level and continued into the hill along the random of the vein to the westward which in a very short distance would prove whether this vein at that point was rich or poor and if the former would not only create an immediate produce but would win 770 fathoms in length and 126 fathoms in depth at the same place where the level would be supposed to cut the same vein from Nanny Knowles Wood at 66 fathoms deep. I have been induced to enter more fully into this part of the subject for the purpose of showing the different ways of bringing so important a part of Sir Thomas’ mineral estate into action.
The Coldstones, Sunside and Greenhow Hill veins have been partially wrought (but principally in their highest altitudes) by virtue of the old Cockhill Level yet the Sun veins may be said still to retain a considerable degree of richness. The south Coldstones veins being under lease to the Cockhill Company are expected to be wrought to the stipulated boundary by the termination of their lease but the randoms of the veins are from the present forefields to the eastward through Bewerley Moor the extent of which in that direction is 1322 fathoms belonging to the late Sir T. W. White Bart. It is observed that the limestone bed makes a gentle depression in its course to the eastward and consequently the veins which are deposited in it are proportionately depressed also and as the forefield of the Cockhill Level cannot follow them the soles of the several veins in such situations will consequently be left rich of ore.
The produce of the South Coldstones and Cockhill veins under the Cockhill Company has been on the decline the last seven months when compared with the same seven months of the preceding year in the proportion of 84 to 103 but when compared with the seven months preceding April of this present year the reduction is only in the proportion of 83 to 84. It is proper here to remark that the soles of these veins as they have hitherto been worked are stated to be left exceedingly poor and that, therefore the opinion of some persons is, that no lead ore of much value exists below them. Be With this impression then these veins may be said to have passed their meridian in the produce of ore and that the only workable points to be looked forward to at the expiration of the present leases are the east and west facings where the depressions of the veins are expected to exceed the depth of the Cockhill Level, but here I beg leave to be allowed to differ in opinion and to state that the probability is that the course of the lead veins continues downward with the limestone bed and that the undersets which the veins may make below the soles of the present forefields may be richer than the upper. Whether therefore this presumption be realised or not it is a well known fact that the westwardly facings of the old forefields were all left rich and is incontrovertible that those now at work to the eastward are so. The object therefore is to decide how these facings are hereafter to be wrought and whether the probable expense of winning them will justify the attempt. This Spirit Level which was begun several years before the death of the late Sir Thomas W. White Bart and which has already been driven about 150 fathoms was discontinued at Foss Gill Beck and I believe at about 8 fathoms in depth at that place. Permit me here to observe that this is a most excellent situation for a smelting mill comprising all the advantages that could be deemed requisite and of easy access by a good road from Pateley Bridge . The Spirit Level was well designed and to me seems the only effectual mode of making the best of the old Coldstones and Sunside veins. If continued in its present direction it is calculated to cut the Sun veins at 1166 fathoms and at the depth of 126 fathoms below the present Cockhill Level which is most certainly a very important consideration, for thus the whole of the limestone veins that have been worked more or less for many centuries past to the depth only of the Cockhill Level would by virtue of the Spirit Level be again brought into action.
It may be said that the probable expense of this experiment may be an objection with you as trustees; if so, I submit for your consideration the propriety of offering terms that shall induce a respectable company to embark in the undertaking as lessees who shall forthwith proceed in the levels without any further loss of time.
I have gone into more detail on the particular bearings and situations of the veins than I otherwise should have done had my investigation been for the late proprietor because these mines have been so long under his care and claimed so much of his attention; but it cannot be supposed that your acquaintance with them can be so unlimited from the short period that they have been under your management.
In taking a view of the respective bearings of the various lead veins as far as I have been able to see them and from such information that I could also collect I am induced to come to the following conclusion as to their capability of future annual income and present worth and in so doing I wish it to be distinctly understood that I do not depend upon finding a continuation of rich ore below the present soles of the limestone veins nor in stating this do I intend to detract from my former assertion “that I expect undersets will be found containing rich “ore”. With respect to the duty arising from contracts already made and that may arise – by leasing and working the virgin and other ground I consider upon moderate calculation that the revenue is capable of being gradually increased for the next five years to the sum of £7000 per annum after which period it might be improved from that to £12,000 for the succeeding eight or ten years not averaging less than £10,000 and the probability is that the same income with perhaps occasional variations of more and less according to the diligence and activity of the lessees may be confidently expected to continue for very many years beyond the time mentioned. And if the proposed trials at White’s Wood and the Spirit Level meet with the success that I anticipate an annual income of from £15,000 to £20,000 may ultimately be relied on and in a comparatively few years be realised.
To ascertain the present value of a property fraught with such advantages might be said to be nothing more than common calculation but it must be remembered that that after all it is a mineral property and the riches it contains can only be properly appreciated as they are explored. Thus if these lead veins had been accustomed to produce £20,000 per annum with the same probable certainty of a long continuance of the same income yet few purchasers can be found who will buy mineral property to the 10 or even 15 percent when they have only to depend upon mining for the return of their capital even with such interest nor indeed can it be expected. The property therefore must be subject to the most serious sacrifice as it never can be sold for any thing near its real worth.
I have the honour to remain
(with great respect)
Your most obedient and very humble servant
Nr Birmingham, November 30th 1818.
From: British Geological Survey archives, Keyworth Nottingham.