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George Bark's Hole
Winster Pitts Mine, Winster, Derbyshire




The information provided in this article is attributed to the exploration work carried out in the mid 1970’s by the ‘North Staffs mining Club’ and subsequent recent field work carried out by both members of that organisation and the Pegasus Caving Club.

A visit to the site in September 2023 by Pete Forster, Nigel Burns and Cheg Chester revealed that the majority of the surface features mentioned in the North Staffs Mining Club original report remain visible despite overgrowing vegetation.


Because there was no discernible indication of the exact location of the mines main shaft and the surrounding ground being noticeably level, the initial assumption was that the shaft had been filled-in, especially as the perimeter wall remained intact.

However, this concept proved to be incorrect when on later viewing of satellite images from 'Bing Maps,' (see Fig. 4) they clearly revealed a square area of distinct light-coloured overburden. This pattern is indicative of deliberately arranged concrete railway sleepers, typically used in the region to seal old mine shafts, thus suggesting that this was indeed the 'capped' main shaft of George Bark's Hole.


This assumption was subsequently verified as correct in a conversation with Tony Wood, a member of PDMHS (Peak District Mines Historical society).


Interestingly the satellite image from 'Bing Maps' also reveals numerous features that are depicted on the 'North Staffs Mining Club' surface survey of the mid 1970's (see Fig. 5).

Situated 280 feet from the main shaft on a bearing of 64 degrees true north, there lies a shaft next to the boundary wall of Drummers Venture Mine. This shaft is capped with concrete railway sleepers and has been plumbed to a depth of 92 feet. (See Fig. 1 labelled 'B' and Fig. 4. Photo Fig. 7).


  • The National Grid Reference SK 24709 60228, derived from the georeferenced 25-inch maps, shows a slight variation from the coordinates given in the report.

  • The satellite image of the site in Fig. 4. is provided courtesy of Bing Maps.

  • The 25" maps are reproduced with the kind permission of The National Library of Scotland.

Figure 1 illustrates the locations of the two shafts discussed in this report, as indicated on the 25" Ordnance Survey maps of Derbyshire XXVIII. 16  and XXIX.13: Revised in 1897 published in 1899.

'A' represents the George Barks Hole Main Shaft, and 'B' denotes an unnamed shaft near the boundary of Drummers Venture Mine.

Fig. 2. Survey of George Bark's Hole. © North Staffs Mining Club

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Fig. 3. Scaled survey derived from Fig. 2 and overlaid on the 25" OS maps of Derbyshire XXVIII. 16  and XXIX.13: 1897, Published: 1899. (Overlay plotted 2024)


Notes on the Exploration of George Bark's Hole. Winster.

This shaft is situated in field No.250 at N.G.R. SK 2472,6023 and is on the top of a very large spoil heap, which is now grassed over. From the shaft a cutting runs down the hill in a N.W. direction and this looks like a leat but its real purpose cannot be explained. To the east of the shaft are the foundations to a group of buildings that were probably coes. To the south of the shaft is a gin circle and the field boundary wall has been built round the perimeter of this. A line of disturbed ground and quite large spoil heaps runs to the N.W. and these mines are thought to be Winster 'Pitts’ which are mentioned by name only on the Nuttal plan. The 'Pitts' are mentioned frequently in ore account books during the 1700's.

The name of the shaft seems to be of comparatively recent origin for according to local information the shaft was worked by a miner of the same name during the early part of this century, and again according to local information he worked the mine by himself and was lowered and raised out of the mine by a friend at the beginning and end of each shift.

The shaft is 250 ft. deep and is ginged with rough limestone blocks to a depth of 60 ft. and at this point the limestone ginging is stood on a dressed gritstone lining which continues down for a further 90 ft. The section of the shaft through the ginging is quite small and is difficult to negotiate in places due mainly to the shaft hading slightly and also to the fact that the ginging is loose in places which makes the descent more hazardous. Below the ginging the shaft is sunk through solid limestone and the section opens out slightly to 2 ft. 6 ins. wide by 3 ft. 6 ins. long. The bottom of the ginging bellies out to sit directly on solid rock. At a depth of 200 ft. the shaft cuts through a 6 ins. thick toadstone wayboard and 20 ft. below this the shaft enters the workings.

The highest passage, at 220 ft., goes off to the north and is driven along the vein, which here is only a washed out fissure, and the vein only extends up for 3-4 ft. above the roof of the passage to where it is cut off by solid limestone bedding (see section). This passage was not explored. Below this passage the shaft opens out into a large worked out area, which extends down for 30 ft. to the base of the shaft. Throughout this lower 30 ft. the shaft is sunk on the cheek of the vein which hades 15° to the west. At the bottom of the shaft there are five passages leading off and these are numbered from 1-5 on the survey, also at the bottom of the shaft at the start of passage No. I are the remains of a mine wagon and this consists of the iron undercarriage and wheels and the remains of the wooden top which has rotted away. No attempt was made to recover this as it was thought to be too large and there was the risk of getting it jammed in the shaft.

Passage No. 1

Passage No. 1 leads off to the N.E. and is 3 ft. high by 4 ft. wide in section, the remains of a 9 ins. gauge railway is in situ throughout the entire length of this passage and hence it was termed the 'tramway'. A vein, again a washed out fissure, can be seen in the roof and both sides of the ‘tramway’ consists mainly of packs although where these are missing a I ft. thick flat of dark brown clay is exposed and occasionally where this flat has bellied out there are low workings going off into it for a short distance on either side of the ‘tramway'. After 30 ft. the roof and sides of the 'tramway' are ginged with rough limestone blocks and this ginging continues for 15 ft. to where the passage opens out into the bottom of a working (point 6 on the survey). This working is 14 ft. high and extends back over the top of the lined 'tramway', the east wall of the working slopes up steeply over a clay and rubble infill and out of the top of this a small hole leads through the roof into a tight crawl which also inclines up steeply to give access into higher workings, although it was too unstable to climb.

At the far end (north) of the working a vein is cut which crosses the 'tramway' at 90° and a 50 ft. high stope goes up on the vein. The stope is 4 ft. wide and on the east side it is packed to a height of 20 ft. whilst on the west side some of the original vein infill has been left in situ and this is seen to consist of horizontally banded brown clays.


Continuing along the ‘tramway’ from the stope for a further 20 ft. the passage cuts another cross-vein and here at the intersection with the vein the clay flat bellies out and there is a large working on this to the N.W. of the ‘tramway’. Beyond here the ‘tramway’ is again packed on both sides and the flat behind these packs has been worked out for some way as one can see over the packs on the right for some-distance. After a further 25 ft. the 'tramway' turns through 100° to the right which brings it round to head S.S.E, and at this point a branch passage leads off to the left (point No.7). Just beyond the junction at point 7 a fall partially blocks the 'tramway', this is due to a pack on the right hand side having collapsed and allowing the fill from behind the pack to run-in, at this fall various remains were found: 2 buckets, one a large one with a wrought iron handle which was probably a kibble, several lengths of rail and a small bottle.

20 ft. beyond the fall the 'tramway' turns to the left to follow a vein that it has intersected and when plotted onto the survey this vein was found to be the continuation of the one seen earlier at point 6. Again the flat bellies out into the vein and here there is a large working on this flat with the 'tramway' driven beneath through solid rock. After 15 ft. the 'tramway' breaks into a chamber 12 ft. high by 15 ft. wide and this is on the end of the flat working, at this point the railway ends and 6 ft. beyond this the chamber closes down. After a further 30 ft. beyond the railhead the fore-field of the passage is reached and here the vein infill can be seen in situ, it is composed mainly of brown clay with massive calcite and altered limestone breccia with a small amount of galena and barytes.

Back at the junction at point 7 the branch passage is 3 ft. 6 in. high by 4 ft. wide in section and after 10 ft. the passage turns to the left to head N.W. and a stream appears through a small hole in the right hand wall. The passage inclines down steadily along the bedding which here dips at 10° to the N. N.E. The roof of the passage is on a natural water worn bedding plane, which is just above the clay flat. The passage becomes more and more restricted as one proceeds along it until after 60 ft. it opens out into a small pocket some 3 ft. 6 ins. high and this is the end of the passage. The water disappears through another small hole in the floor of the pocket at the end of the passage.

Passage No. 2


Passage No.2 off from the bottom of the surface shaft leads off to the east but soon swings round to the left to head N.E., parallel to the 'tramway'. For the first 20 ft. the passage is driven along the clay flat and is packed on both sides but after this the passage follows a vein, the section of the passage is 3 ft. wide by 6 ft. high although in places the roof extends up for some 15 ft. along the vein as a stope and in places there are some very unstable looking packs supported on rotting timber stemples, needless to say these have to be treated with respect. The floor of the passage is composed of loose rubble so possibly the vein could have been worked downwards as well.

After a total of 40 ft. what appears to be the end of the passage is reached, here the passage widens into a small chamber 6 ft. wide and the floor here is covered with clay, on the left hand side (north) in the floor, a small hole leads down through a narrow incline and gives access into the working above the 'tramway' at point 6 (see survey). 
A way on can be found out of the small chamber by climbing over a small bank of clay at the far end of the chamber and then through a narrow slit which soon opens out into a passage 4 ft. high by 3 ft. 6 ins. wide and this passage is still following the vein.

After 13 ft. from the chamber the passage breaks into the stope on the first cross-vein that was cut by the ‘tramway’ to the north of the entrance shaft. The passage enters the stope above the 20 ft. high pack to the east of the 'tramway'. Here the cross-vein can be seen to cut off the vein that one has been following to the N.E. and the cross—vein hades to the N.E. and in the roof of the stope some 30 ft. higher can be seen some very large poised boulders.

The strong cross-vein cut by the ‘tramway’ appears to have had a large bearing on the mineralisation of the mine. This cross-vein completely cuts off the two veins trending N.E. (see survey). The bedding to the south of the cross-vein dips to the south, whereas to the north of the vein, the dip of the beds is to the north. The predominant minerals appear to be calcite and the brown clay infill with very little galena and barytes. All the workings show many natural features and the wall rock immediately adjacent to the flat and cheeks of veins is altered limestone, which is often covered with tiny dogtooth calcite crystals. A 4 ins. thick clay wayboard is seen to the N.E. of the cross-vein in the ‘tramway’ below the working 20 ft. before the forefield.

Passages No. 3 & 4

Passages Nos.3 and 4 from the bottom of the entrance shaft give access into workings to the S.W. Passage No.3 is only 3 ft. high by 4 ft. wide in section and at the start of this passage the remains of an old wooden ladder was found on the passage floor. The passage is again driven along the clay flat, which is exposed where the passage walls are not packed with deads. The roof is a natural water- worn bedding plane, which dips steeply to the north. After 20 ft. a branch passage goes off to the left and this leads into a small working in the flat. A further 15 ft. along the main passage from this junction a vein can be seen in the roof and this is the same vein as that followed by passage No.2 to the N.E. A further 20 ft. brings one to another junction (point 8 on the survey), and here a passage of small section inclines down to the right along the flat.

This branch passage leads into a maze of passages driven in every direction, all on the flat, none of them were surveyed or thoroughly explored as they are in a dangerous condition due to unstable packs but one of them leads back to passage No.4 from the shaft. All of these passages are roughly 3-4 ft. square in section and are extensively packed, being driven in the flat.
Back at the junction at point 8 and continuing straight on past the junction along the main passage the passage splits into two forks after 8 ft., both of these passages lead after 12 ft. into an incredibly large chamber.

The chamber measures 100 ft. long by 80 ft. wide and is approx. 45 ft. high at its highest point. The roof is quite natural and is curved on a natural bedding plane, which dips to both N.W. and S.W. All around the perimeter of the chamber are large blocks and the floor from these slopes down steeply over yellow/brown mud into the centre where a 5 ft. deep semi collapsed winze goes down to give access onto the maze of passages mentioned earlier. At the far end of the chamber (west) another winze inclines down very steeply through the large boulder's and clay that makes up the floor but this was not descended due to its state of instability. The winze is 25 ft. deep and could possibly lead into more lower workings on the horizon of the clay flat that is encountered in the other lower workings below the chamber.
The chamber gives the impression that it is in the top of an anticline and its natural roof would certainly suggest so. There is no sign in the roof of the two N.E. trending veins seen elsewhere in the mine. The horizon of the bedding in the roof of the chamber is the same as that in the shaft where the vein is seen to be cut off in vertical extent, so it appears as though the mineralized beds are cut off at this horizon.


Passage No. 5

From the bottom of the entrance shaft entry is gained into passage No.5 by climbing down a pile of rubble, which has accumulated at the base of the shaft. This leads after 5 ft. into a chamber roughly 14 ft. in diameter, the floor and roof of which slope down steeply to the north along the bedding of the limestone. Three walls of the chamber are packed with deads and the chamber is driven in the clay flat mentioned earlier and four passages, now backfilled, have at one time given access into further workings along the flat.

Surface Remains

At first glance there would seem to be very little remaining on the surface, however, on closer examination there is more than meets the eye. Close inspection reveals the remains of at least two coe's and a buddle. The coe nearest to the shaft appears to have been used as an ore house due to its proximity to the buddle and it is situated only eleven feet from the shaft. The other coe is twenty nine feet to the northeast and may have been used as a tool store and dry.

GBH Bing 3.jpg

Fig. 4. Satellite imagery of the area around George Bark's Hole shows the location of the covered shaft as a lighter coloured square. Image courtesy of 'Bing Maps' 2024. 

Fig. 5. Survey of the remaining surface features at George Bark's Hole.

© North Staffs Mining Club

Probably the most interesting feature lies fifty feet to the northeast where there is to be found a large hollow which may be a run-in climbing shaft onto the workings of the mine. If this was a climbing shaft it must have run-in at sometime during the last century as there is a local inhabitant of Winster who remembers the mine being worked about 1910 by George Bark and that the mine is now named after him, its former name is not known. It appears that George Bark was lowered down the drawing shaft in the morning by his friends and wound out again in the evening, being left alone in the mine during the day. The winding was carried out using a stowe or turntree and our informant remembers this remaining at the mine for a long time after it was abandoned. If this information is correct it would support the theory that the shaft ran in prior to George Bark working the mine at the beginning of the century, also to support the theory of the run having occurred long ago is the fact that there is no sign of the shaft in the underground workings of the mine, unless it enters via one of the many stopes which have not been fully explored.

Another interesting feature is a drain which runs from the buddle, which is situated adjacent to the shaft and follows a general northwesterly direction towards Winster. The drain is approximately one foot deep and eighteen inches wide. [see Fig. 6]


Fig. 6. The 'Drain,' referred to as 'Leat' in Fig. 5, is gradually being concealed by vegetation; Winster village is visible in the distance.  Photo:  Nigel Burns 2024

To the west of the drain as it leaves the buddle is an unusual feature consisting of a rectangular hole eighteen inches deep and six feet wide by eight feet long.  This hole is not connected to the drain or the buddle and no suggestions can be offered as to what the purpose of the hole was.

The entire mine is surrounded on three sides by a stone wall and on the fourth side (north) by the edge of the spoil heaps of the mine which are of considerable size. To the south of the shaft is a gin circle and the stone wall has been built round the perimeter of this.

The surface remains at George Bark’s Hole are by no means anything unusual but when viewed in conjunction with the underground workings of the mine they help to form a better general picture of the mine as a whole.

Report Ends

Shaft B

Fig. 7. Shaft 'B', located at National Grid Reference SK 24787 60266, plumbed to a depth of 92 feet. The photograph was taken facing west from the hillocks of Drummers Venture Mine.  Photo: Nigel Burns, 2024

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