Lead has been mined at Overton as part of the once very profitable Gregory mine since the 17th century. It was at its most profitable in the mid 18th century, but due to extreme geological and flooding problems it closed in 1806. The mines were leased from Sir Joseph Banks, a keen explorer himself having sailed with Captain Cook, and he was regular visitor to his estate at nearby Overton Hall.
Overton was opened again as a small private venture for fluorspar in the 1960’s. The spa they took out was originally discarded as waste by earlier miners in their search for lead. Much of it was on the floor from where it was collected, bagged and hauled to the surface for processing.
The film includes a filmed descent of the 80ft shaft, followed by an underground tour of the main section of the mine. Finally, three of the former fluorspar workers are interviewed as they revisit the rusting headstocks and cage, recalling their days in the mine more than 30 years ago.
It is a unique record of the life of a Derbyshire lead mine, typical of so many that found a new lease of life in the middle of the 20th century.
This record of Overton Mine (Ashover, Derbyshire) was created in part for the mine owners who had kindly allowed access for many years to mine explorers via a shaft in their back garden. At the time of filming there was very little in the way of extra light to film these ancient workings, but this in some ways adds to the atmosphere. It provides a record for others who might never get a chance to explore this very old mine.