The High Rake Lead Mine Dig: Reclaiming a Legacy

A tour of the excavated site with archaeologist John Barnatt.

High Rake is located near Great Hucklow in North Derbyshire. Extraction of ore at surface goes back to medieval times, but by the end of the 18th century the lead vein was largely worked out and the shaft was 84m deep. The High Rake Mining Company formed in 1834 with William Wyatt as mine agent, and “State of the art” machinery was installed including a  Sims pumping engine. It was thought that the toadstone would be breached, reaching large reserves of lead ore in the limestone below.  Sadly this was not to be, and in 1852 with the shaft at an amazing 219m depth, still in toadstone, the Company was forced to close with a loss of £12800. They never did achieve their aim of finding rich pickings in the limestone below.   

The film was shot and produced by PDMHS member David Webb with  the help and co-operation of the PDMHS Conservation Team, who worked tirelessly in all weathers to bring this important old mine site to life. The first part is a tour of the early excavations of the 19th century mine buildings, taking in the Winding House and adjacent Boiler House, and the Condenser Pit on the Pumping Side. We then get a glimpse into the depths of the great Engine Shaft as its features are carefully recorded, and then, with excavations fully completed, a descent into the nationally important remains of the sunken Simms Pumping Engine House. The film concludes with an exciting filmed 100m descent down the shaft to the water level. 

Work at High Rake is now complete and the team has moved on to other things, having only recently completed excavation of another mine site called Silence Mine near Great Hucklow. High Rake boasts some excellent and detailed interpretation panels and a visit to this atmospheric site is a must for anyone with an interest in our county’s heritage. 

Widely acclaimed by local mines historians. Produced in support of the Peak Park sponsored “Lead Legacy” week in May 2004. Re-edited 2010.