Shropshire

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Clive Mine

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Clive (SJ514239)

Copper  (aka Drepewood, Threapwood)

 

The earliest known record is that a mine at Clive belonged to Thomas Spendiloves who bequeathed it to his son John on his death in 1703. There is also a separate reference to an eminent copper prospector from Ireland who had mentioned that this one yard wide vein of green and gritty copper contained gold. John Spendiloves leased it to Roger Atcherley in 1711 and the lease specified an area one mile around Grinshill Church. The significance of this is that, in 1568, Queen Elizabeth I had chartered two organisations to encourage home production of copper. These were the Company of Mines Royal (who had a monopoly on copper mining in Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Westmorland, Cumberland, Lancaster and York) and the Company of Mineral & Battery Works (who had the monopoly in all other counties). They either engaged in mining operations themselves or granted licenses in return for a royalty. During the 16th Century, their mining activities decreased and they failed to encourage the copper industry as they were set up to do. As a result, there was great discontent amongst landowners and miners and a number of illegal copper mining operations were set up in opposition. Even when official licenses were granted to mine copper, there were encroachments with some trying to extend workings up to five miles around the given spot. The Company of Mineral & Battery Works (which controlled Shropshire) therefore set their own rules such that nobody should have a right to mine on "first asking" and also imposed a limit of working of one mile from the focal point, say a church or a stake. Eventually the monopoly of the two Companies was taken away by two Acts of Parliament in 1689 and 1694.

 

There is also, however, a reference to a Drepewood or Threapwood Mine in the area which was worked in 1710 by Thomas Oswin. In a letter dated 1739, Spendiloves says "... There is on Vernon's land at Clive part of a copper mine which I will help to sell ... I would also like to see a mine lease that Mr John Payne has ...". This seems to indicate that there were mine workings on both Vernon's land and Spendiloves'. Since Spendiloves was offering to help sell the Vernon part, it indicates that they were originally worked separately and that Spendiloves was trying to sell both as a job lot. Atcherley thus seems to have leased Spendiloves' part of the mine from 1711 and Oswin leased Vernon's part from 1710. If Spendiloves was trying to sell the mine, it suggests that Atcherley had either ceased working or his lease had expired. Spendiloves interest in a lease held by Payne could indicate that the latter had taken over the lease of Vernon's mine from Oswin. Since he was trying to contact Payne, it suggests that Payne was not actively working his part of the mine and perhaps Spendiloves hoped to negotiate transfer of the lease so both mines could be sold as one.

 

Rather than develop a large mine, it seems that several small shafts were sunk along the line of the vein, each being abandoned when they got too deep for effective ventilation. The mine was probably worked on a small scale for many years until 1862, when William Henderson (manager of British Metal Extracting Ltd) sold to James Harris, Kendal Coghill and John Coghill all his rights and interests in or near Clive, ie three 1/5th shares leased from Robert Gardner of Sansaw Hall for 21 years. It is not known who held the other two 1/5th shares of the mine but it was probably the landowner Robert Gardner. Henderson also agreed to sell to Harris a free license under the former's patent for improvements in treating certain ores and alloys. At the same time, Harris and partners took a lease of the mine direct from Robert Gardner. In this, they undertook to pay £4 per acre every half year for the first 10 years of the lease, together with 1/15th of all copper ore raised. For the remainder of the lease, they would pay 1/12th of all copper ore raised. The lease specifically excluded field number 245, which is interesting since on an estate map dated 1882 this field is described as "The New Mine Spoil Bank and Plantation". A later lease stated that "Harris, Coghill and Coghill still stand to be possessed of the mines for the residue of the 21 years". It is possible that William Henderson had leased only the area of field number 245, perhaps using it for experimenting with his copper reclamation process. When the new partnership wished to take over the whole mine, they would have had to buy out Henderson's lease of field number 245 and then negotiate a separate lease for the rest of the property. To put things on a clear footing, Gardner could have backdated the later lease to March 1862 (the same as Henderson's), hence the comment about the partners possession.

 

The later lease allowed the lessees to search for and extract copper mines, veins, beds, nests and bunches of copper ore, mineral ores and metallic minerals on parcels of land indicated. Clauses were inserted to facilitate buildings, de-watering, etc and as little damage as possible was to be done. The mines were to be measured and dialled (surveyed) and sections kept. Gardner had the right to inspect the mine and have access to the land, as well as being informed of the weights of copper ore extracted. There was also a clause specifying that, within 3 months of finishing mining operations, the lessee must "sollar" all pits and shafts as ought to be kept open to the depth of, or at least 12ft below, the level of the deepest adits communicating thereto. This means that the shafts were to be kept open to below adit level so that access to the workings could be maintained for future lessees. The lessee also had to fill up and safely cover all excavations, pits, shafts, etc not required by Mr Gardner. This is a fairly standard part of a mining lease which tried to ensure that an abandoned mine did not become a danger to the landowner's stock but was still able to be re-opened at a future date. Present day evidence suggests that the abandoned shafts were not filled in as required but such clauses were always difficult to enforce after mining operations had ceased. The format of the lease seems to suggest that it was used to construct additional leases of the mine, although there is no evidence that they were ever operational. It would appear that there had been sufficient previous mining to necessitate such an elaborate lease and that the lessees had great expectations. As soon as Harris and the Coghills had obtained the lease, they formed the Clive Copper Mining Co Ltd. The Articles of Association state that "The company shall have the right to purchase, to take on lease or tenancy, working mines of copper or other mines situate near Clive and for ... reducing, refining, melting by acids or otherwise the ores from mines and to sell the same". The initial capital was £10,000 in £1 shares, made up as :-

 

Samuel Morris 4,499
Kendal Coghill 2,249
Sir John Coghill 2,050
F Phillips 1,000
H Somerville 200
James Thomas Harris 1
Basliff 1

 

The fact that Harris was one of the original partners but only held 1 share indicates that he perhaps contributed practical mining knowledge to the enterprise rather than capital. The original partners would do well out of the deal since they would have received payment from the new company for selling their lease and also became shareholders into the bargain. The company did not keep the mine long and in 1865 sold the lease for £4,000 to the New Clive Mining Co Ltd.  Most of the shareholders of the new company were from Birmingham and they spent a great deal of money but "did no good". The upper level in the mine was enlarged to produce chambers up to 20ft wide and 30ft high.  This broke into the bottom of the older workings and the old shafts were exposed from below.  As it went north, the copper deposit in the upper level eventually ran out and was not found again, despite desperate searching.  A lower level was cut but there was very little trace of mineralisation at this depth.  The lower level connected to surface by a shaft which was deepened when the mine closed to form a well. During 1868, the main drawing shaft was deepened to below the lower level, a depth of 183ft, and a borehole continued from its base. This then became a well that supplied water to the estate and it is still in use today. By 1869, the ore had run out and the company was selling off the mine's equipment, including a set of stone troughs for precipitating copper.  Some of the latter went to the Bryntail Mine in Wales where they may still be seen as part of an interpretation by CADW.  Since the copper ore was intermixed with the sandstone, it was crushed and covered with hydrochloric acid in the stone troughs.  This dissolved out the copper and the liquid could be passed to other troughs containing scrap iron.  The copper slowly precipitated on the iron which was eventually removed so the copper sulphate could be scraped off.  From the excavations in Clive Mine, it has been estimated that 20,000 tons of rock was removed producing 200 tons of copper metal. William Henderson's patent for acid-leaching almost certainly extended the life of the mine and enabled extraction of a large percentage of the 3.5% copper present in the intermingled ore.

 

There are a number of shafts into the workings and many of these are old shallow ones which date from the early working of the mine.  The Rubbish Shaft is in the wood opposite Mine House and has been capped with a locked lid.  Well Shaft is in the building in front of Mine House and has been converted to a well.  All other shafts have either been filled or capped. Rubbish Shaft can be descended 25ft to Upper Level.  Heading south leads to the South Winze which has an unstable lining.  This can be descended for 80ft to Lower Level and a long low crawl which ends in a chamber part way down Well Shaft.  Upper Level continues beyond the top of the winze and once emerged at surface but this has now been filled in.  Back at Rubbish Shaft, heading north leads to the Main Winze.  This can be descended for 80ft to Lower Level, which can be followed north to a collapse.  Heading south from the bottom of the winze leads to the chamber part way down Well Shaft.  Another level heads off from here but is collapsed after a short distance.  The top of Main Winze can be crossed by a wall traverse and leads to a series of tall stopes with copper mineralisation.  A number of older surface shafts have been undercut by these later workings and can be seen in the roof.  A section passing through a fault has bad ground and this has been recently stabilised.  The workings eventually lose the mineralisation and trial levels searching for it again proceed for a short distance before ending at the North Winze with blind headings.

 

SJ51392386

Mine Manager's House (C19)

SJ51392386

Mine building (C19)

SJ51392386

Well Shaft (open)

SJ514239

Rubbish Shaft (capped)

SJ514239

Shaft (capped)