The Tearsall Pipe Caverns Connection

The story of a typical cold, muddy and wet Derbyshire dig that would eventually reconnect two ancient lead mine systems.

Much of Derbyshire is still riddled with shafts, passages and voids from the days when the rich mineral veins in the Peak supported a once thriving and important lead industry. A few are still accessible today and can be explored with care as part of a suitably experienced team. The lifeblood of cavers has always been the thrill of discovering new passage, or in the case of old lead mines, re-discovering abandoned ancient, or “old man” workings. The activity is called “digging” and this video not only captures the excitement of the dig, but gives a flavour of the conditions in which the “old man” worked.

The Tearsall Connection  follows a group of club cavers as they enter the long-abandoned passages of two separate lead mines called Tearsall Pool Series and Tearsall Sump Series. They are situated near the village of Wensley and lie so close to each other they must surely be linked, but all previous attempts to discover a connection have failed. This video captures not only the hard work and awful conditions of the dig, but also the mounting excitement as they work towards their goal. Will they have better luck than their predecessors?

The mines – part of the Tearsall Minefield near Winster – have revealed artifacts that support the placing of these small workings at an early date – possibly 17th century. Tearsall Pipe caverns – known as the Pool and Sump series – are described in literature as two individual workings but a determined dig could reveal otherwise…

An early film edited before the advent of digital video of a dig by the Masson Caving Group to try to connect two seemingly separate ancient lead mines.