To THE EDITOR. Sir,— Having been requested by several local and other gentlemen to state my views on this well-known and highly-productive mining district, I beg to submit the following remarks:—
The district is situated in South Shropshire in the Silurian rocks, and contains several miles of rich mineral ground abundantly charged with fertile lodes, none of which have yet been thoroughly proved, much less exhausted, and which it would be impossible to do under the former slow and costly system of mining in this district. Some of the mines have been sunk down to a considerable depth, and the lodes being porous, drained a large area of water into them, and the lack of a deep drainage necessitated the erection of ponderous pumping machinery, loaded with heavy lifts, and continually working day and night, involving an enormous cost for pumping, which could have been avoided, as the district has a high elevation, and is comparatively convenient for a deep drainage.
The deepest mine in the district is now drained to the depth of 112 yards, while such well-known mines as the Tankerville, Roman Gravels, and the Gritt have no drainage worth mentioning, the latter only six or seven yards. About the year 1820 a number of men formed themselves into what was called the “Farmers’ Company,” and began driving a deep adit level, called the “Dingle” or more properly speaking the “Leigh Level,” with the intention of draining the whole district; had this scheme been completed it would have drained the whole district, and doubtless resulted in very valuable discoveries.
This level commences in Brookless Coppice, north of the main road from Leigh to Brockton, at a point 11½ chains west of Leigh Hall, in the parish of Worthen; it is driven in a south-easterly direction 82½ chains, on an elevation of 377 feet above the main water line, and is 7 feet high and 4½ feet wide. The entrance is well built and arched with stone. There are three shafts on the level; the one nearest the forebreast is one chain north of B.M. on Lordstone in Lordstone Lane; the forebreast of the level is in the old house field, nine chains S.S.E. of this shaft. The distance from this point to the nearest mine, the Batholes, is 66 chains, and it would he drained to the depth of over 200 yards. Eight chains further is the Nick Knolls Mine. This is situated at a high elevation, and the lodes would be drained to the depth of 280 yards. Thirty-three and a half chains further on the same line is the Sheffield Mine, which would be drained to the depth of 207 yards. Next comes the Round Hill, and the celebrated Tankerville Mines, at a distance of 11 chains and 8 chains respectively, and they would have a drainage of 215 and 240 yards.
The Pennerley Mine, which has been so productive for many years, is 34 chains further on, and it would be drained to the depth of 257 yards. To extend the level a further 54 chains would bring it to the noted Bog Mine, with a drainage of 235 yards.
This is the most watery mine in the district, and has proved itself beyond all doubt to be the most productive Blende Mine in Shropshire. Though sunk down to the depth of 468 yards, it is not extended on the course of the lodes more than a very short distance, hardly 400 yards. The Pennerley and the Bog Mines, though entirely on different lodes, partly drain one another, and the level for the time may not require to be extended beyond the former mine.
There are other mines south of the Bog, which could be drained to a greater depth than any of the other mines mentioned, if the level were extended south. The total distance from the present face of the level to the Bog Mine is 214 chains, and a point about 35 chains west of this mine I consider would be the best point to drive the level to, as the lodes on Shelve’s Hill are even more numerous than Sir Roderick Murchison states in his work, “The Silurian System.” The level, driven at nearly right angle with them, would intersect and drain numerous lodes, which it would fail to do if driven in another direction. It would also intersect the well-known lodes of East Roman, Roman Gravels, Ladywell, and the Gritt Mines, which have been so noted for their mineral wealth, with a drainage varying from 210 to 275 yards, according to their different elevations. Besides the main east and west lodes there are several cross or counter lodes traversing; nearly north and south, and some of them are very productive. In fact the district is a network of mineral lodes, and a short extension of the level along this course of some of these would drain several other mines too numerous to mention.
The level is driven through the hard barren ground, but now is in soft ground and only requires to be extended a short distance to come into the productive and ore-bearing treasures, for there are certainly very strong mineral lodes in close proximity to the present end, and it may be that the Lawrences were hopeful that they were on the point of success when they went into litigation, and in 1835 the driving of the level was suspended. The daily discharge of water from the level would be about 1,500,000 gallons, and this, with a fall at the entrance of 33 feet, could be utilised with a turbine to create sufficient compressed air or electrical power to work some of the mines without the use of steam, and thus save the cost of fuel. Some say that a shallower level, commencing somewhere in Hope Valley, would suffice for a permanent drainage, but my firm belief is that too much capital has already been wasted on such useless levels. Had it been utilised to extend this level the Shelve or South Shropshire Mines would now be equal to any in the kingdom, and if mining speculators were fully aware of the wealth of the district, and what could be done with a deep drainage, they would not invest so much in foreign mines.