‘Utopian Realism’ is an exploration of rural utopianism, idealism and industrialism in the North East of England and Mid Wales by the artists Mair Hughes and Bridget Kennedy.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

model of the mine workings

As well as the model of the village there is a model of the mine workings in the Blacksmith's Shop. It shows where the veins of lead ore are located under the village and the various tunnels and shafts that were dug in order to extract it.

When we talked with Colin at the Mining Institute he told us how the mines were put to bed in the late 1800's. Cheaper imports of lead ore were coming into Britain from Northern Europe so it was no longer a profitable operation to extract lead ore at Allenheads and WB Lead withdrew from the area. However, they did not just up sticks an leave. Colin told us that underground machinery was carefully wrapped up. Copious amounts of tallow (animal fat) was applied to preserve metal from deteriorating in the wet conditions. At the time they must have thought this was just a temporary suspension of works and that the market might recover and they would recommence mining in Allenheads, little did they know that these mines would not be worked for lead ore again in their life times. In fact, apart form a brief exploration for Fluorspar by British Steel in the 1970's these mines have remained dormant for over 100 years.

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