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Continuing with 'Heritage' - Bickerton Coppermine

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Sandstone Ridge Trust

Many of our readers will be familiar with the distinctive landmark chimney stack of what was 'Bickerton Coppermine', near the A534 on Gallantry Bank.

The earliest records of mining at Gallantry Bank date back to the 1690s (during the reign of William and Mary), initially a little further east, in the area of woods just to the north of the Bickerton Poacher.

Letters to the mine owner (Sir Philip Egerton) from a mining engineer (Brandshagen) reveal that improvements of the workings were requested as were additions to the mining Rules and Regulations. The letters give a unique insight to the underground workings at Gallantry Bank Coppermine:

... For a wage of 2 shillings a week, the miners were to be summoned to work by the sound of a hammer on an iron plate and at 6am, after a prayer, descend a shaft of little more than a metre wide. At 11am the plate was to be struck again for a surprisingly generous lunch break until 1pm when they were to go back into the mine until 6pm. Thus they were expected to spend ten hours underground — in winter slightly less. No'one was to smoke a pipe down below: this was not particularly dangerous but it wasted time and brought a fine of 4p for every pipe (one sixth of the weekly wage). Health and Safety were not a priority: the main obsessions of Brandshagen were discipline and economy and he made a particular point of ensuring that, should any of the iron picks and other tools be broken, the miners had to return all the pieces for re-casting or face a fine. Every miner also had to account for the candles he took down to give him light. Even the unused remains of candles had to be returned subject to a fine ...

The engine house chimney, a few mounds of overgrown spoil and the fenced-off depression of the mine shaft is all that remains of the copper mining industry along the Sandstone Ridge.

That said, we thought you would be interested in our 'That was Then' and 'This is Now' images.

For a very detailed account of the Bickerton Coppermine CLICK HERE

Thanks to Peter Winn and Nick Holmes for providing this copy.