Early Methods of Lead Mining, pt.1
As lead mining worked nearly vertical mineral deposits called veins, the mining techniques used were quite different
from those used to exploit horizontal seams of rock such as coal.
The earliest known vein workings in the North Pennines were opencast trenches called rakes. Some rakes were simple
trenches, whilst others had closely spaced shafts in the base. Although some of these workings were destroyed by
later mining their former existence is still reflected by the names of mines such as Grove Rake.
Hushes were open cut workings on the vein, which used water to remove the waste material. The water was often stored
in dams and released into the hush from a series of channels and sluices. Small hushes have probably been used since
Roman times, but the large V shaped Hushes, which are prominent in the Pennine landscape were mostly created in the
later 18th and early 19th centuries.
From at least the 17th century tunnels called adits or levels were used in connection with air shafts to drain and
ventilate deeper workings, and to provide access to the workings. The vein was worked by overhand stoping, which
involved removing ore from the roof of a tunnel driven along the vein. As the working proceeded upwards, following
the vein, new timber floors were built into the upwardly expanding cavity. Waste material called 'deads' was left on
the successive floors as the workings progressed. As the workings expanded, increasingly complex systems of shafts and levels were needed. Waterwheels were used to
pump water from the deeper workings up to the adits, which drained the mines.
Read more about early methods of lead mining.