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Bog Mine

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Bog (SO356978)

Barite, Lead, Silver, Zinc  (aka Stiperstones, Tankerville Great Consols)

 

This mine was being worked by Matthew Dore and Partners in 1739 but, by 1777, it had been acquired by Messrs Scott and Jeffries.  In 1777, they installed the first Boulton & Watt engine in this area, a 30" pumping engine (see Figure 9) costing £800.  The life of this engine was very short, however, as it was sold to a nearby colliery in 1782.  By 1789, the mine had been acquired by John Weston & Co and they purchased a 45" engine from Boulton & Watt (see Figure 10).  Its life was only a little longer than its predecessor, however, for in 1797 it was sold to Alex McDonald and moved to a colliery at Nuneaton.  The location of this engine is very hard to determine amidst the present day remains at the site.  A drawing from the Boulton & Watt Collection shows 2 shafts only 47 yards apart but the 2 obvious shafts on the site, Bunting's and Old Engine Shaft, are 130 yards apart.  Either the old drawing is inaccurate or there was an older infilled shaft between the two.  There are also references to a 36" engine brought to Bog Mine in 1794 from Wheal Butson. 

 

The mine commenced work again in the early 19th century and a 70" pumping engine was erected at Old Engine Shaft.  The Shrewsbury Chronicle dated February 1st 1838 gives an interesting account of the celebrations that took place. 

 

"On Friday last, Mr Cross of Chester put in motion a steam engine of 370 H.P. to conquer the deluge of water.  The engine was manufactured by the Coalbrookdale Company, its length of beam over 35ft 10ins, length of stroke of the piston 10ft, internal diameter of the cylinder 70ins, bore of the pump pipes 18ins.  The depth of the engine shaft was 315 yards, water being raised to a level 100 yards below surface.   About 1pm, this grand piece of machinery began to have fresh fuel added to its boilers and for several moments the spectators were breathless with anxiety till the beam lifted its majestic head and Mr Cross named her "The Queen Victoria" amidst the tremendous cheering of a vast multitude, the band playing "God Save The Queen". 

 

When work ceased again in 1844, this shaft was stripped of its pitwork.  The company was in financial difficulties by 1859 and a petition for winding up was made by a shareholder.  He alleged that the manager, Mr Chenall, was fraudulently converting shares to cash and that the company was in debt.  At the same time, however, a prospectus appeared in the Mining Journal in an attempt to rework the mine on a larger scale.  Captain Samuel Morris Ridge, writing a report on the mine, recommended that an 80" engine be placed on Old Engine Shaft and a 60" engine on Bunting's Shaft.  A Mr Daniel Thomas, in another letter, offered to "put the shaft to rights" for the sum of £5 per fathom if materials were provided.  Two large engines such as these suggest the presence of much water in the workings.   

 

 In 1870, work on a large scale was again commenced and a 200 H.P. engine with 70" cylinder was installed for pumping.  The engine had a beam weighing 26 tons and a 10ft stroke, working 16" plunger lift pumps which were 120 yards long.  The engine was named Charlotte after Lady Charlotte Lyster, the lady of the manor and owner of the mine.  In addition to these, there was a sinking lift of pump rods 25 yards long and 12ft wrought iron pipes made by Messrs Easton & Tattershall of the Alexandria Foundry, Leeds.  The latter were well known in the district as they provided machinery for many of the mines.  By January 1871, the mine captain recorded that the men were fitting the capstan engine, capstan and shears for putting the pitwork into the shaft.  By February, the shears had been stayed into position and the first two pump rods hung on the beam.  Later in the year, the pumps were recorded as working well and the mine had been drained to the 70 fathom level.   

 

In 1872, a letter by E. Cavendish Tahourdin appeared in the Mining Journal.  He stated that the water level had now fallen to the 100 fathom level and, in a later letter, pointed out that it had cost £2,000 in the last 8 months to lower the water 26 fathoms.  He forecast that, as the remaining capital was only £2,000 and there was 59 fathoms yet to be pumped, the company would be forced to make a further call on the shareholders or go out of business.  He also commented that the company only held the lease for 21 years and 7 of these would be up before the shaft was bottomed.  An official of the company wrote and indignantly denied these facts but, before the year end, a call was made on shareholders for more capital.  By June of that year, the shaft was nearly dry but reports in the Mining Journal show that the task had been very difficult.  The pumping costs had been greatly underestimated and the company were in financial difficulties.   

 

In 1874, the engine was recorded as working at 7 strokes per minute and drawing 877,000 gallons per day.  Later in the year, pumping from the bottom levels, this became 4½ strokes per minute and 563,800 gallons per day.  The shaft had finally been pumped dry but the expected bonanza was not forthcoming.  The 'old men' had filled the levels with deads and it was found that the tales of rich veins were just not true!  The company were forced to borrow capital and mortgage the machinery to keep working and it was proposed to move the 70" engine to Bunting's Shaft for winding, replacing it with a more powerful pumping engine.  If this had happened, it would have made the engine the largest winder in the country but by 1875 the mine was in the hands of the liquidators.  At this late stage, the mine began to show better results but, despite optimistic reports from Captain Harris, the company was wound up.  

 

The mine was last worked on a large scale in 1883 when there was a small output from above water level, as no pumping was being carried out.  In 1897, John Smitham of Tankerville commented on the bad state of the pumping engine, boiler house roof and chimney.  At this time, Captain Oldfield was making a last attempt to start full scale work at the mine.  Bunting's Shaft was later used to pump up to the Boat Level, 52 fathoms below surface at this point, but no details are known of the engine used.   

 

The mine continued as a small scale operation for a number of years mining barite instead of lead.  Buntings Shaft was used for winding, with a horizontal winder, until after the First World War.  At Ramsden Shaft, sited at the other end of the Bog sett, there was an electric winder, which was probably the first to be used in Shropshire.  Lead ore was transported by horse and cart to the smelter at Pontesbury.  It was originally intended to extend the Snailbeach District Railway in the 1870s to Bog Mine and this would have bypassed Tankerville.  In the event, it only reached Crowsnest to the north and all ore still had to be transported by horse and cart.  In the 20th Century, when barite was mined, there was an aerial cableway taking the barite to be processed at a mill near Minsterley.  This ran for 5 miles and remains of the piers can be found in places, especially near Perkinsbeach.  When the volume of mined barite decreased, this was replaced by a traction engine pulling carts.  The mine finally closed in 1932 but the wooden headgear remained until 1960. In 1966, the Bog Visitor Centre opened in the old school and it is now staffed by volunteers. 

 

  

 

Despite its long history, only about 7,000 tons of lead ore were ever mined here and most of the tips were removed during the war as hardcore for airfields.  The site now belongs to Shropshire County Council but most of the buildings have been demolished and all shafts filled.   There is car parking available and display boards attempt to recreate the scene for visitors.  A visit to the Bog Centre is highly recommended to learn about the history, browse for gifts or partake of refreshments. 

 

 Miners' Institute 

Only a few foundations remain and are the site of some interpretation boards.  It was clad in corrugated iron and was used within living memory for local dances.

 

 Somme Tunnel 

This is still open for 135 yards, with a metal grille at the entrance that is locked in winter to protect hibernating bats.  It is said that unemployed miners were paid to drive this level just to prevent them and their families from starving.   

 

 Powder House 

A rectangular building in an excellent state of preservation.  Gunpowder (known as “black powder”) was kept here and distributed to miners before they went underground.   

 

 Embankment 

To the west of Engine Shaft, the embankment of a tramway from Ramsden Shaft crosses an overgrown reservoir built to store water for ore dressing.  

 

To the south is the capped Ramsden Shaft, sunk in 1915, which now lies in a stable yard.  The sites of Tews No.1 and No.2 Shafts are now covered by trees and hard to find.  Swag Shaft is just in the trees by the side of the track leading to Nipstone Rock but has been filled to the top with tree thinnings.  A square depression to the south on a large mound may be the Bog climbing shaft shown on old plans.  

 

 

Mineral

Period

Tons

Barite

1865-1913

4,634

Lead/Silver

1845-1913

6,980

Zinc

1866-1913

6,852

 

SO355977

Reservoir (C19)

SO356974

Electric winding engine base (C20)

SO356978

Engine house foundations (C19)

SO358978

Powder house (C19)

SO358978

Engine house foundations (C19)

SO360979

Aerial ropeway terminal (C20)

SO362995

Aerial ropeway booster station (C20)

SO362996

Aerial ropeway base (C20)

SO356971

Swag Shaft (filled)

SO356974

Ramsdens Shaft (capped)

SO356978

Engine Shaft (collapsed)

SO358973

Tews No.1 Shaft (filled)

SO358973

Tews No.2 Shaft (filled)

SO358978

Somme Tunnel (grilled)

SO358978

Buntings Shaft (collapsed)

SO362978

Shaft (collapsed)