In our series of articles, we have traced the development of Grassington Lead Mines from transition of ownership by the Clifford family of Skipton castle to the individual miners. We have looked at the work of the Dales Chemical company in the 1950’s and 60’s and the reasons why the mines needed to be covered in the aftermath of the worst caving disaster in the UK at Mossdale Scar in 1967.

In this article we look at the work being done by Grassington Mines Appreciation Group (GMAG) to make safe the mines for all users of the Moor including its animals.

At ground level, Glory Mine is one of the most complete mine complexes. It is about 50 yds from the Bycliffe road which connects the 1960’s workings on Grassington Moor with the Mossdale Scar area of Conistone Moor. The Bycliffe Road forms part of a lovely circular walk from Yarnbury, that can be done any time of the year as it is mainly on tracks.

Glory Mine Horse Whim from West

The wall of the Horse whim was restored in the 1960’s by the Earby Mines Group. It is about 4ft high and extends in an almost complete circle. The shaft sits in the gap.

Standing where the whim axle would be, on the left is the wall of the Horse whim looking East and on the right towards the South and across the Shaft.

Glory Mine Horse Whim from North

Given the proximity to the Bycliffe road, Glory Mine is an obvious place for walkers to stop off in any weather. On a windy, wet or snowy day, the wall provides good shelter for a coffee break. In good weather the mound of soil and rock is a good place to stand and take in views towards Whernside or Simon’s seat.

Glory Mine Shaft from West

On the left is the view east across the covered shaft and showing the end of the Horse Whim wall. On the right is the view south towards Hebden.

To take shelter, the walker has to pass around the end of the wall and thus is unknowingly passing within a yard of the shaft. On the south and west side of the shaft, within 2 feet, there is a drop off as natural ground level is about two yards below shaft level. As the exploratory shaft was being dug, the miner’s often just dumped the rock at the top of the shaft, rather than taking it away, so the top of the shaft went up as the miner’s dug down.

Glory Mine Shaft from North

The mines are now under the auspices of Historic England so Grassington Mines Appreciation Group (GMAG) have undergone a long complicated process to be authorised to work on a Scheduled Monument and to establish that no one claims ownership of the Moor. This included working with the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Bolton Abbey estates amongst others to get the correct paperwork in place.

The mines were covered in the 1960’s after the Mossdale Scar caving incident using sleepers that are thought to have come from the Grassington (Threshfield) railway which was closed down under Dr Beeching. The sleepers were then covered with a pile of soil and rocks to protect them which creates a mound a couple of feet above ground level.

For each mine, the first thing GMAG do is to find the edge of the shaft. The picture shows three “spade width” trenches that are dug to find the edge of the first sleeper. The most obvious one is to the right of the soil mound as GMAG put the turf was put back on the other two (S and A in rocks) until the major works took place . Once the first sleeper is found the edge of the Shaft can be traced, which defines the danger area.

Next the soil and rocks are removed from over the Shaft. This is done with strict adherence to a Health and Safety statement which requires anyone near the shaft to wear a helmet and be attached by rope to more than one ground anchor, in case they fall down the hole. Immediately the soil/rocks are removed, a scaffold frame is erected as a barrier to the shaft and to define a helmet/no helmet area.

Glory Mine finding the edge
Glory Mine

Fencing post are then sunk to a depth of 18 inches and concreted in. This can be problematical as often to create a fence post hole, different sized pieces of rock need to be removed. These have been settling into places for at least fifty years and maybe since the miner’s dumped them there when digging the exploratory shaft.

The picture on the left shows the scaffolding and fencing around the excavated shaft as at seventh of December this year, as Storm Barra passed.

Next the wire fence is added to prevent animals large and small getting through the wooden fence and finally the wooden railings are added. Only at this point, is it safe for a suitably helmetted and roped person to remove the scaffolding.

This picture is a view from the fence rail on the left hand side of the previous picture. The two sleepers in the middle are rotten and one has disintegrated. The rusty metal sheet was used when the sleepers ran out.

These and the pile of soil and rock are the only things that were preventing someone falling down the shaft. Glory mine is 60 yards deep so clearly anyone or anything making the drop would be unlikely to survive.

Glory Mine 1770-1842

Glory Mine is the fourth shaft that Grassington Mines Appreciation group have made safe. For further details:

  • Glory Mine click here
  • West Peru Mine click here

Richards Shaft and Worsley Shaft have been fenced but not yet documented.