A record of exploration by The Pegasus Club Nottingham
Compiled by S (Cheg) Chester
with contributions from other club members, personal diaries and log extracts
Alternate Name: Doctor Hollands Engine Shaft.
N.G.R.: SK 13984 81261 (speculative).
Altitude: 1400 feet.
To view the Ordnance Survey 25 inch map of the area dated 1841 - 1952 Click here
Phase One: Exploration
Pegasus introduction to Hollandtwine
One Saturday morning in the mid 1960’s, a few members of the Eldon Pothole Club, Buxton, paid a visit to the Pegasus Club hut in Peak Forest. Now, there was nothing particularly unusual about this, but the very reason for their visit was totally uncharacteristic for a rival caving club. They had come to share with us some photocopies of old mining records taken from originals stored in the archives of the Bagshaw Collection housed in Sheffield City Library.
The plans and drawings of these records clearly revealed the existence of a large natural cavern ‘The Great Swallow’ within an old abandoned lead mine on Dirtlow Rake near Castleton, ‘Hollandtwine’. With great enthusiasm the Eldon members went on to inform us that they had actually located the entrance shaft to this mine, which was open, in good condition and with a depth, they estimated, in excess of 250 feet.
Now, passing on such important research information of this nature to another local caving club was far from the normal way of doing things, so what was the catch, the Pegasus members present wondered? Well, quite simple really, Pegasus had sufficient ladder in store to tackle a shaft of that depth, in fact several times over, but lacking tackle, the Eldon Club were truly left with a descent dilemma.
From this brief encounter and discussions with the Eldon Club, Hollandtwine mine developed into a major Pegasus exploration project that continued, in one way or another, over many years as revealed in this following article.
Fig.1 shows a survey of Hazard Mine dated June 17th 1837 with the boundary between Hazard and Hollandtwine clearly shown to the right. To note is the reference made to 'The Great Swallow' that can be seen with the text 'The Great Swallow in the Twine' (inverted). If the scale of this survey is anywhere near accurate then the size of this natural feature must be of truly impressive proportions. It was this document that stimulated the original Pegasus Club interest in Hollandtwine Mine over the years and still continues up to the present day.
Fig. 1. Plan of the Hazard Mine dated 17th June 1837
Key to Hazard Mine Plan dated 1837
1. Engine Shaft
2. West Cartgate.
3. Middle Cartgate West.
4. East Cartgate. [ 32 Fathom ]
5. Middle Cartgate East. [ 60 Fathom ]
6. Bottom Cartgate to the works.
7. Drawing sump.
8. Swallow sump.
9. The present workings.
10. Roger Forefield West.
11. Where we get so much ore.
12. Gytes on the pipe.
13. Where the ore went out with the Channel.
14. The Cartgate into the Wham.
15. Bottom water sump.
16. Top water sump.
17. Twine ground ends.
18. Bradshaw Vein.
19. Twine water course.
20. Twine Cartgate.
21. dotted thus all cut out.
22. Twine sump to the Water Course.
Fig. 2 shows an enlargment of that part of the 1837 'Hazard Mine' plan which relates to 'The Great Swallow' in 'Holllandtwine Mine'.
Fig. 3. Plan showing the relationship between 'Hollandtwine' and 'Hazard' Mines dated 13th March 1830, (The orientation of this plan is transposed, S,N,W,E with respect to Figs. 1, 2 & 4) It shows the position of the Bradshaw vein which is referred to in Fig. 2 (18) in relation to 'The Great Swallow'. As can be seen from the survey in Fig. 4, a section of the Bradshaw vein was open but nothing was accessible in this area below this horizon.
Initial Eldon Club Exploration
It is believed that the Eldon had descended the shaft on several occasions before they approached the Pegasus and had probably got down to around 190 feet where an 'eye' hole in the shaft gave access to the climbing way between the 150 foot and 225 foot level. At this time there was no access to the 150 or 225 foot levels from this point, the connections being dug out at a later date.
First Pegasus Club Exploration
On our initial trip we first entered the workings through the 'eye' hole and were shown around by the Eldon Club. We then returned to the main shaft and continued down to the 225 foot level. This level was investigated but no way down to any lower workings was found on this visit. On descending further down the main shaft it was found to be restricted by a large, square and heavy steel plate wedged across on its diagonal corners at a depth of approximately 325 feet. This had probably been used to cover the open shaft sometime in the past and due to its weight someone must have been quite determined to lift and drop it down. No further exploration was carried out on this our first visit and there were no subsequent joint visits with the Eldon Club as they seemed to lose interest in Hollandtwine Mine.
Clearly, from what we had encountered and observed on our initial trip, we formed the opinion that Hollandtwine Mine was possibly one of the finest preserved examples of a 'Rake Working' in Derbyshire. One reason for this good state of preservation was undoubtedly the abundant use of stone lintels for roof supports as opposed to decayable timber stemples.
There being no further interest from the Eldon Club over the ensuing weeks, it was decided to try and find a way past the obstruction at 325 feet. It was found on inspection that the steel plate blocking the shaft could be pivoted on its diagonal corners to provide sufficient space for a person to pass it and descend. However, it was also realised that on the return it would not be possible to pivot the plate from below, thus causing an impasse. To solve this problem, armed with a length of wood and a bow saw, Cheg Chester, laddered down to the steel plate and cut a measured length of wood and used it to wedge the plate in an 'open' position. Access was thus gained to the bottom level at around 360 feet.
On subsequent trips over the following weeks and months, by removing several blockages, the climbing way was re-established between the 225 foot and 360 foot levels A dig on the 225 foot level, through very loose infill material, resulted in re-connecting the 225 foot level with the climbing way first entered through the ‘eye’. A further dig in this area resulted in gaining access to the 150 foot level above.
The latter excavation now provided a tackle free descent from the 150 foot level to the bottom of the mine. Thus, with a relatively short entrance pitch of 150 feet giving us access to all parts of the mine, a fully determined exploration of Hollandtwine could begin.
Hollandtwine now became the main focus of Club projects and based from the club hut at Peak Forest, trips were made into the mine virtually every weekend. Eventually the whole of the accessible areas of the mine were explored in detail, but with no sign of the ‘Great Swallow’, of which there was no definite sign of exact location or existence.
Along the bottom level, at regular intervals were "rises”. These were all climbed using the original miners footholds which had been built into the shaft's ‘ginging’, (the rough stone lining of the shaft). A few of the "rises" were 80 feet in height but none gave access to any significant workings, the highest parts being just below the floor of the 225 foot level.
Several collapses were dug through in the direction of Hazard Mine (West) but all entered extremely dodgy ground due to the increase in the width of the vein and supports being mainly of timber. On entering one of these extremely loose areas a set of blasting tools were found consisting of scrapers, prickers and a very rare 'Straw Carrier' complete with straws. The straws were short lengths of actual straw, approximately 10 inches long and filled with black powder for use as short fuses to fire-off a placed main charge.
Fig.4 is an incomplete survey produced by Bob Dakin, the major part of which was completed during a planned overnight camp within the mine. All our gear was lowered down to the 360 foot level early one Saturday morning and a time arranged for a party to retrieve us and the gear on the Sunday afternoon.
The survey indicates that the main levels of the mine are set at a 150, 225 and 300 foot, however, to note throughout the Logs, the bottom level is referred to as being at 360 feet and having laddered down to this depth several times I consider that this latter figure to be the true depth. Importantly, the actual depth of the shaft needed to be established in order to ensure that the correct amount of ladder was used for a successful descent; Pegasus ladders were manufactured in twenty-five foot lengths and had a ten inch spacing between the rungs, thus, in order to ladder Hollandtwine shaft, 15 lengths of ladder were required.
Fig. 4. The incomplete Hollandtwine survey dated 1966/67
Because of the regular trips being undertaken and the loose nature of the shaft top, lifelining was very difficult. It was decided to cap the shaft with a concrete top and steel lid. Preparation for this work began in the middle of winter, which provided a combination of frozen ground and hot tempers!
This can all be witnessed on the attached video that was originally on 8mm cini film and taken by Bob Dakin. Once completed, the capping of the shaft provided a much higher level of safety during descent and ascent of the shaft, which was all done by electron ladder.
Phase Two: Digging
Three main digging projects were identified and these tended to alternate in progress according to the amount of enthusiasm of team members at the time of choosing to do the work.
The Main Digging Projects:-
i) Digging out the infill from the bottom of the shaft.
ii) The natural section off the 360 foot level.
iii) The climbing shaft connecting the 150 foot level to the surface.
Shaft Sump Dig
With no sign of ‘The Great Swallow’ within the parts of the explored mine, it was decided to initially make an asserted attempt to dig-out the blocked bottom of the main shaft (sump). This was an unknown quantity with no survey or plans to indicate the true depth of the shaft or if there were in fact any workings below the 360 foot level.
To facilitate the easy transfer of spoil after it was hauled from the bottom, a short length of railway was installed, connecting the shaft to a crosscut which had ample room to accommodate it. The truck, which consisted of a stout oak framework and cast iron wheels along with lengths of railway line were removed from an abandoned mine site in Hay Dale. The gauge was approximately 18 inches. To complete the set-up, a tripod assembled from scaffold poles was erected over the shaft sump. This entire infrastructure was installed at the 360 foot level horizon.
Hollandtwine shaft top with Paul Thompson removing the lid which was secured in place by four bolts set into the concrete. Note the crushing circle and wheel in the background. Photo P.C.N.
Ready for lowering. This photo shows the oak-framed truck with cast iron wheels, lengths of rails and rough-cut wooden sleepers ready for lowering down the mine shaft to the 360 foot level for the shaft sump dig. Photo P.C.N.
The shaft sump dig proved very demanding for those who participated in it because you first had to descend the 150 foot entrance pitch, then negotiate 200 feet of ‘T’owd Man’s’ climbing shafts, using only small ledges which had been incorporated into the ‘ginging’, before reaching the dig site at the 360 foot level. Then, of course, after completing the digging session, pulling up spoil and disposing of it in the cross-cut passage, make the challenging return journey up to the surface. It has to be said though, that the digging parties did have good support from other Pegasus members who arranged a time and enthusiastically lifelined the digging group out. So enthusiastic in fact, that sometimes ones feet hardly touched the ladders rungs!
A Near Tragedy
On January 17th 1970, a very memorable day for the wrong reasons; a digging party consisting of Paul Thompson, Terry Wright, K Moore, Phil Passmore, Frank Williams and Cheg Chester began the ladder descent of the main shaft down to the 150 foot level. There was a slight ground covering of snow and the temperature was below zero, which caused the life-line to stiffen as the moisture retained in it began to freeze. After lowering some timber and various pieces of equipment for the dig, Frank Williams began his descent, being life-lined by the last person on the surface, Cheg Chester.
Following this, when Frank had safely reached the 150 foot level, the plan was to rig a double life-line for Cheg to make his ‘last-man-in’ descent. However, this plan never came to fruition because on descending the ladder to around the 100 foot mark, Frank, for some unknown reason, fell from the ladder.
Now, in normal, past circumstances, Paul Thompson’s Land-Rover, parked close to the entrance shaft, was used as the main life-line belay point. However, on this occasion due to the recent activities of spar workers it was not possible to position the vehicle close enough to use it. There was an alternative belay set into the concrete top, but it was only two feet from the edge of the shaft and totally unsuitable. This is what we used!.
When Frank, who weighed around fourteen stone 'peeled off' the ladder, he fell quite a distance due to the icy rope whizzing at speed through Chegs hands. His fall was finally arrested when Cheg went from a standing position to a flat out one in an instant, falling away from the shaft with his face impacting onto the course gravel strewn across the grounds surface.
Momentarily lying there, Cheg realized that he had successfully held Frank and stopped his fall, noticing too that the tension had come back to the electron ladder. This indicated to him that Frank had managed to regain the ladder and therefore could now, presumably, continue with his descent. Cheg then did a rather foolish thing, (his own words), by standing up again, to continue life-lining. However, fate struck yet again, because shortly after re-mounting the ladder, Frank promptly fell off again and once more Cheg was instantly laid flat by the severe jolt on the life-line, but this time, impacting his face onto the concrete shaft top.
Frank was successfully held by Cheg for a second time, his fall being checked directly opposite the 150 foot level, but left dangling on the rope above the remaining 200 feet of gaping shaft below him. Other members of the team, sheltering in the 150 foot level passageway, aware of the dangerous situation, quickly dragged Frank from the shaft and into the safety of the opening, where he was found to be ‘no worse for wear’.
Cheg however, had not fared so well, because his face was a lacerated bloody mess; the life-line rope had burned through his kerosene suit into his shoulder and through the palms of his rubber gloves, though not too seriously.
Communication down the shaft was very difficult, limited to loud shouting which caused much confusion, but when the team below noted that a double lifeline had not been rigged, as agreed, in order for Cheg to make his descent and join them, they realised something was wrong. As a result, Paul Thompson tied onto the line and Cheg managed to lifeline him back up to the surface.
On reflection of the event, Cheg is certain that as Paul’s head rose above the shaft top, on seeing Cheg’s battered and bloody face, a very wry smile appeared across his face.
After a quick discussion on what to do, Cheg lined Paul back down the shaft for a short distance, which enabled him to communicate clearly with the other team members and explain the situation above. As a result, it was mutually agreed that Paul would exit the mine, rig a double life-line, take Cheg somewhere for treatment and then return later in the day, the remaining team members, including Frank, would just carry on with the planned digging session at the shaft sump.
Paul wanted to take Cheg directly to hospital in Buxton, but knowing that there would be Pegasus Club members drinking in the Devonshire Arms in Peak Forest that lunch time, Cheg convinced him to go there first. Cheg was still dressed in his caving gear, not wanting to drag his dirty clothing over a battered face.
On pulling up in the Dev car park, which was covered in snow with temperatures still below freezing, Cheg asked Paul to go into the pub whilst he remained in the vehicle, and see if one of the female club members would come out and take a look at him and advise on a course of action. After waiting for what seemed like a lifetime, Cheg decided to poke his head around the pub door to try and establish what, if anything, was going on. This was greeted with shock and concern from the occupants, with comments like, "My God what's happened to Cheg?”
"Oh! Err! Sorry. Cheg’s had an accident." said Paul who had in fact, entered the pub, said nothing to anyone and was propping up the bar with a pint in his hand. Nice to know that your best mate has got his priorities right. Club Members in the bar were unanimous in their opinion, that Cheg, should with haste, indeed go to Buxton hospital. Thus, he was duly taken there where a nurse carefully removed the largest pieces of impregnated gravel with tweezers and commented that the remaining smaller pieces would just have to, in time, slowly find their own way out.
This photo shows the belay used in the above incident, it being set into the concrete top and just how close and unsuitable it was. Photo P.C.N.
It was around this time that the Technical Projects Unit of The British Speleological Association, based at their Chapel Headquarters, Castleton, had a winch meet at Hollandtwine mine using a new (electronically operated) electric winch, which had been designed and constructed by Dr Harold Lord. P.B. Smith was the first to descend but was at first prevented from reaching the 360 foot level by the large iron plate jammed across the shaft at 325 foot. A conversation with P.B. later revealed that he had just given it a few good kicks whilst sitting in the winch seat and it just fell to the bottom. Fortunately for us it did not damage the digging tripod directly below and finished up covering the shaft sump at the 360 foot level. We later repositioned this iron plate and used it as a platform to work from whilst digging out the bottom of the shaft.
Harold Lord with the TPU winch at Hollandtwine
Photo Bari (Mick) Logan
The TPU winch at Hollandtwine amongst the spar workers devastation Photo Bari (Mick) Logan
Digging at the shaft sump resumed in March and continued intermittently during the following months with the first Pegasus descent using their own winch down to the 225 foot level on September 18th 1971. Amongst the infill at the choked shaft bottom was a layer of plastic moulding waste and a large steel sub-frame which refused to move one inch even though over five feet of it had been exposed.
Some details, although sketchy, can be found in The Pegasus Club Logs Archives for years 1970, March 1st, 8th, & 22nd and April 5th & 18th. Also 1971, September 18th & 19th.
Surveying at Hollandtwine 1970 by James Cobbett
When I was studying mining at Nottingham University, together with fellow-Pegasus members Hugh Titley and Peter Webb, one “course requirement” was to make a mine survey. Most students would arrange to do this as part of their work experience in a real mine during the Summer vacation, most working for the Coal Board in England, and a few in mines overseas. Typically, this would be a survey around a pillar in a Midlands coal mine, and often, I am told, this was no more than a tracing of a survey made by the NCB surveyors – disgraceful! However, us cavers are made of sterner stuff, so I chose to survey Hollandtwine Mine, which I had already visited with the Pegasus.
Doug Hodges, later Professor of Mine Surveying and a good friend of mine, thought this was great idea, so we were good to go.
In addition to Hugh Titley, Peter Webb and myself, five other mining students joined us, spending a week in the Pegasus hut at Peak Forest after the second year exams had finished, in July 1970. We worked all day, a piss-up every night in the Stags, much fun being had by all.
First we had to survey in to the shaft, which involved a theodolite traverse from the trig point atop Mam Tor, and levelling in from a benchmark at Fred Sidebottom’s farm. This already took most of the week, before we even got to the shaft.
I had by this time already developed my own SRT rig, which involved two original-model Croll (or maybe Troll?) ascenders, one connected to a chest loop and a long foot-loop, and the other just to a short foot loop for the other foot. The two foot loops passed inside a standard waist-length, which allowed one to rest, hands-free, at any time. Though this worked well for me, this rig never found wide acceptance, and was replaced first by rigs using a Gibbs Rope-Walker, and then by all sorts of exotic kit. This we used with kernmantle “static” rope, borrowed from the university caving club, with everyone managing to go down to the 225 foot level, and back again to surface, with no memorable problems.
The Hollandtwine shaft was not vertical, so first we had to survey this, by hanging two weighted cords down from the surface until they almost hit the sides, then two more cords, then two more took us down to the first level. By measuring the distance, and direction, between successive cord pairs, we were able to precisely locate the bottom of the shaft with respect to the top. Then, using a tape and theodolite, as there was no room for levelling, we surveyed round to the 225 foot level, and completed the closure via the shaft.
Then it was back to the Drawing Office at the University to do the calculations and draw the survey. Though unable, or unwilling, to check our work underground, the Mining Department were very happy with our result, which we got without having to visit any stinking coal mines.
However, neither any participants, nor the university, retained a copy of this survey, which is now little more than a folk memory!
James Cobbett, Panama City, Panama, November 2020
Theodolite Traverse from Mam Tor. Photo James Cobbett
Hugh Titley prusiking out of Hollandtwine Main Shaft
Photo James Cobbett
Levelling in to the Shaft Top. Ball aching job?
Photo James Cobbett
Natural Section Dig. (360 foot level)
25th September 1971 was a significant date in the exploration of Hollandtwine Mine, for on this day the access point to the natural section was discovered. Part way along the 360 foot level, at roof height and set between the stone lintels the 't'owd man' had constructed a small aqueduct from stone and clay to carry water from the North to the South side of the workings, preventing it from falling into the level. The water flowed a short distance in a low crawl and then formed a pool with only a small gap between the water surface and the roof. By breaking away part of the clay aqueduct the water was lowered by a foot or so and by removing some of the mud and silt, access was gained to a natural rift about four feet in height. After a further eight feet the way on was blocked, except for a small hole at floor level where the water had once flowed. From this hole there was a very strong echo and the sound of running water. Was this the way to the "Great Swallow"?
Digging on October 2nd & 3rd continued apace at this new site where a large amount of silt was removed to reveal a small chamber, just large enough to stand up in. The roof of this chamber was packed with silt and went up at an angle of 45 degrees. After removing a large amount of the silt in an upward direction an open cavity was found. The way on was to the left but blocked by two large boulders, one of them forming part of the roof and both appeared to be supported by the silt. At this point the sound of running water, previously heard through the small hole in the floor could be clearly heard ahead.
The following short accounts extracted from the Log books of the Pegasus Club and one of its members, the late Tony (J Rat) Jarratt, recount exploration, digging and other exploits in Hollandtwine mine over a period of years.
October 9th 1971
After six hours digging Tony Jarratt managed to squeeze through the boulders mentioned in the previous report. This was only possible when he removed his clothes and stripped to the waist. After a few feet he emerged in a fair sized passage (5 ft-high 18 ins wide) turning right, and traversing over a narrow hole in the floor, he came into a large aven 15 ft in diameter by 40 ft high with a small stream flowing down one wall. He then returned to the boulder where he continued downstream for about 70-100 feet where he turned back to report. The passage continued large enough to walk in.
Next he had a look at the narrow slit in the floor and found out that just below him it opened up into a pitch about 6 ft x 4 ft, of an unknown depth. After throwing down some rocks an estimate of depth was made at between 70-100 ft. Next it was decided that the only way to get the normal people through would be to dig out the low passage where the water from the bottom level had flowed.
After a lot of shouting down the hole and shining lights it was established that this low crawl came out in the side of the pitch about 8 ft from the top. After Tony came back through the squeeze a couple of hours digging was done in the crawl but it was found very constricted and difficult. Party returned to surface exhausted after 8½ hours.
October 10th 1971
After one hour of digging it was established that we still had about 8 ft more to go and as progress was very slow we did not think that we would break through that day. So Tony again stripped off and went back through the squeeze with a sledge hammer to enlarge the top of the pitch. He then laddered it and went down to a small ledge where he could talk.
After a few minutes enough room was made to post a trenching tool through and Tony began to dig from the other side. After 1½ hours enough room was made to just get through with one pulling and one pushing. Next Paul came through and we climbed up to the top passage. Paul found it too tight and went back. Tony and Cheg then went to look at the downstream passage which is about 200 ft and with good formations ending in a boulder and mud fill in quite a large passage (12 ft wide 6 ft high)
The pitch was then laddered and Paul descended first. After 30 ft there is a ledge and then it fell for another 40 - 50 ft ending in a small pool about 1 ft deep (2 ft x 2 ft); no way on could be found. The party then returned to the bottom level, very wet but happy, ate and went out exhausted. 6½ hours.
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book
There is no doubt that this is one of the most exciting discoveries in Derbyshire for some years and hopes of extensions are high. The total horizontal length of new passage is C. 300' and vertical range is C. 135' (top of aven to sump) the pitch is C. 70' with a ledge halfway and the lower part may be in a rake vein. The small stream sinks easily into the sump. Total depth below moor level is around 425'
October 16th-17th 1971
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book 10hrs
Down at 2.45pm and out at 12.45pm. Cheg and Tony climbed the aven with the aid of "Cheg's Cheating Sticks - thin alloy rods joined together and used to hang a ladder on unattainable rock projections. We used this method for c.20' and then Tony free climbed the last bit. At the top c.35' was a large ledge with a tight rift passage leading off. This we followed for c.150' to a boulder chamber where the way on can be seen but has not been entered. Two minor side passages where looked at and there were many fine stals in this section. Paul and Spud photographed parts of the passage beyond the 70' pitch and Dave and Vic attacked the boulder squeeze. After a time Dave and Vic left the mine and Spud and Paul continued belting the squeeze - as yet to no avail. Cheg and Tony started digging the choke at the bottom of the 70' pitch. This will need some hard work, and probably damming and bailing in the future. Also fitted a bolt to the top of the aven.
October 23rd 1971
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book 6hrs
After more hammering at the boulder squeeze Cheg and Tony went to push the upstream limit of the cave. Tony went through an unstable boulder squeeze into a small boulder chamber with some nice stal. floor and cave pearls. The stream issued from a rift in the roof which Cheg climbed to find that it quickly forked and both passages became too tight. This had added c.60' of passage to the cave making the total length c.550'.
Survey reproduced from Tony Jarratts Log Book, October 1971
November 27th 1971
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book 6hrs 10min
Melvin Batchford, Cheg Chester
Aim: To dam stream below aven and to bail and dig terminal pool. As there was too much water this was not attempted so we dug at the end of the dry passage instead. After digging down 4' in boulders we came across a small hole full of nests of minute cave pearls. The way on could be seen but not entered. We then tried digging over the top and got fed up and came out, investigating odd bits of mine en route.
January 15th/16th & 22nd 1972
These logs contain a few relevant facts about the dry downstream passage dig but are mostly the ramblings of a member renowned for his unpleasant emissions.
February 12th 1972
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book 4¾hrs
John Savage, Paul, Sulo, Spud, Vic
Digging trip to upper passage. Dig consists of flat out bedding plane half full of mud. The way on can be seen for c.30' but needs the floor digging out. Put some fluoroscein in the stream and erected “2GAS ST" and "FOOTPATH CLOSED" signs in the 360' level.
February 27th 1972
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book 3hrs
John (Savage), Paul, Rat Arse
Paul and Tony put a load of fluoroscein in the stream at 12 am, then John and Tony went up the climbing shaft (roughly measured to c.110') and lit four smoke pellets. No sign of smoke on the surface and, as yet no sign of dye a Peak Cavern. [NB later dye found in Ink Sump area of Peak Cavern.
18th March 1972
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book 4¾
Vic, Paul, Sulo, Ratarse (Surface – H.Lord, Sarah, Dave etc)
Vic and I then went down to Dysentery Dig and after bailing all of the water into the polythene sheet I went in and dug. After digging for c.10’ in 8” deep liquid mud I managed to squeeze along into a clean passage, slightly descending and with a draught – small stals on the roof and the noise of trickling water further on. It seemed to be getting too tight – and just then my light went out so I retreated and we both went out. Further progress will need more mudclearing and bailing.
8th April 1972
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book 4hrs
Jon and I went straight to “Dysentery Dig” and recommenced digging. Just beyond the furthest point I had reached last time was a slit containing a small boulder. After some digging I reversed the passage and pushed the rock out with my boot. I was then able to back through into the new passage which revealed itself. Jon joined me and we proceeded to explore. The passage was c.10’ wide at first, with many straws and small stalactites and an old, stream deposit floor. This gradually descending passage was followed for c. 100’ to a point where a flat out squeeze led to a collapse totally blocking a drop in the floor. A way on here would be extremely difficult to find. It was then that Jon found the most promising lead yet. An old dry cross passage which he had investigated, although blocked by a couple of small boulders, emitted the sounds of a large stream. We groped at these for a few minutes but were so knackered, and the rocks so awkward that we gave up. This is the most promising bit of cave yet found but getting through “Dysentery Wallow” is pretty grim. (Unfortunately could not push the find on Sunday as Jon – under the influence of much POP, rolled his Mini down Slack Lane and we spent all day re-shaping it with a sledge hammer.)
Tony Jarratt at left with Paul Thompson assisting in redesigning the traditional Mini look
April 15th 1972
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book 5½hrs
Paul, Jon, Sulo, Al Wicks
After having tasted the pleasures of the muddy crawl we attacked the boulders blocking our way on. After much hard work they were shifted and Jon squeezed through towards the sound of the stream. He entered a loose chamber some 30' long in which a fairly large stream sank in loose rocks and rubble on the floor. The whole chamber in fact was composed of boulders and clatch and was somewhat unhealthy. We tried to excavate the floor but this will take a lot of hard work and will be dangerous. Our hopes of running along miles of huge stream passage were shattered (and to add insult to injury we had bet a gallon of ale that Eldon wouldn't find as much passage in their dig as us - they did!) On the way back I looked at the inlet passage - which may go with a bit of determination. Good night in "Stags"
October 19th 1974
Cheg, Bill, T Pot, Dave & Durdy
The sump at the bottom of the seventy foot pitch was very small and restricted. We had thought that a container could be hung in the shaft and the sump bailed into it giving a chance to dig but this was later considered impracticable. We then decided that placing a charge of explosive in the sump may at least loosen things up a bit. The charge was set, approximately one pound, and we all retired to the foot of the main shaft in the 360 foot level. After two misfires due to breaks in the wire the charge was finally detonated.
The explosion was plainly heard from the foot of the shaft but what was not expected was the speed the fumes reached our position, within just a few seconds. It can only be assumed that the water had been blown out of the sump creating an airspace allowing a considerable draught to clear the fumes. The sump was checked on a later visit but no noticeable change had taken place.
To my knowledge the only other work done at the bottom of seventy foot pitch was by Keith ‘Ben’ Bentham who was fire setting with a Calor gas blowlamp.
A pair of kibble hooks found on the 225 foot level. Although of different sizes they were originally attached to the same length of chain with the locking springs still working to this day! Photos Nigel Burns
Climbing Shaft Dig
After swinging across in the main shaft into the 150 foot level and proceeding a few yards in an easterly direction there was a small recess on the north side which gave access to the foot of the climbing shaft. The climbing shaft consisted of a number of offset rises with short blind headings leading off at the top of each rise. Two of the rises were connected by a 45° slope, no part of this climbing way could be described as being in a safe or stable condition.
Much effort was expended in trying to open this climbing way to the surface and so alleviate the need to ladder the 150 foot entrance pitch in the main shaft. As will be seen from the following extracts from the logs this mission was not achieved.
November 28th 1971
Tony Jarratt, Cheg Chester, Paul Thompson, Sulo Sulonen, Dave Lucas.
Investigation of upper section of climbing shaft at 150 ft level? Jarratt and Sulo climbed the shaft offset chimneys and investigated each small level, none of them leading anywhere. We came to a 45º shute which was choked at the top with fallen boulders and mud. Jarratt had a look and removed a few boulders to see the way through. Sulo climbed over Jarratt to have a look and the whole lot slipped down only to be stopped by the Sulonen head chock. Jarratt removed the rocks one by one and then they both shot off stopping at each level on the way. This was a wise move because an enormous boulder at least 18 ft dia. trundled down the shaft. We then went down to the bottom level and detackled the new series.
To quote Tony Jarratt on the above incident “If we had been actually climbing in the shaft when either fall happened we would almost certainly be dead.”
Same trip but from Tony Jarratt's Log Book 3hrs 20 min
Hairy trip! Sulo and I scaled the climbing shaft leading up from the 150’ level. After c.80’(?) it was blocked by loose boulders which I decided to pull out. After removing several we thought it prudent to retire and were just going when the lot collapsed behind Sulo (who acted as a sort of dam!) A bit of gardening freed Sulo and we decided to beat a hasty retreat. About 20’ down we crawled into a small level to see where it went and had both just got inside when another collapse occurred and a load of boulders hurtled down the shaft. After waiting for some time we got down as quick as we could and recovered ourselves with a tin of sardines. If we had been actually climbing in the shaft when either fall happened we would be almost certainly dead. Sulo and I then continued down to the streamway and de-laddered the 70’ pitch etc while the others dug out a small hand picked level, to no avail. Sporting trip!
February 27th 1972
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book 3hrs
John (Savage), Paul, Rat Arse
John and Tony went up the climbing shaft (roughly measured to c.110') and lit four smoke pellets. No sign of smoke on the surface.
First Radio Location of Climbing shaft
March 18th 1972
From Tony Jarratts Log Book 4¾hrs
Vic, Paul, Sulo, Rat Arse,
Surface Harold Lord & Sarah, Dave etc
Sulo and Tony took radio location gear to the top of the climbing shaft which Harold Lord detected from the surface.
Sunday vain surface digging to locate climbing shaft.
May 20th 1972
Another smoke test was undertaken by Tony Jarratt with no sign of smoke on the surface.
September 3rd 1972
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book
Ratarse [surface:Paul, terry, Bru etc]
Ian Duncan [mining engineer]
Looked at several short shafts for Bleaklow Mining Co.
Ian laid ½ lb bang at top of climbing shaft. A very epic trip including such delights as collapsing ginging, tape measure smashing my watch glass, abseil burnt shoulder etc. Tape recorded the blast – much rumbling of boulders followed. Forced to free climb main shaft both down and up.
January 6th 1973
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book 2hrs
Went to top of climbing shaft to access bang damage, not much change.
Surface plan of Hollandtwine Mine by Henry E Chatburn dated 1962
From an article in The PDMHS Bulletin, Vol. 1 No. 7 entitled
'The Surface Remains On Dirtlow Rake'
Copyright © Peak District Mines Historical Society, and reproduced here with their kind permission.
Hollandtwine 1974 – 1977 by Stuart McManus
Disclaimer: Most of this information is from memory, so some of the dates are a bit sketchy. It’s thanks to the late Tony Jarratt’s wonderful logbooks that I can refer to the actual date of Hollandtwine’s sad destruction.
In around 1975 it was becoming quite obvious that the Fluorspar workings on Dirtlow Rake were getting ever closer to Hollandtwine’ s main shaft. I/we took various trips up to Dirtlow Rake at the time specifically to look at the opencast Fluorspar workings and we were all very concerned at how close the workings were getting to Hollandtwine’s main shaft.
I contacted both Peak District National Park and Derbyshire County Council, but neither were that interested in my concerns, they kept saying that the Fluorspar works would not go anywhere near Hollandtwine or damage the entrance to Hollandtwine!
I think it was Peak District National Park (PDNP) suggested that I could formally apply for Hollandtwine to be listed as a “Derbyshire Treasure”, which at the time (circa 1975 – 1977) would not protect the site, but would formalise my interest and they assured me they would update me if any excavation work endangered Hollandtwine.
Second Radio Location of Climbing shaft
It was obvious to us that the Fluorspar workings were getting ever closer to Hollandtwine, and though I recall contacting the authorities on several occasions informing them that the workings were getting very close to Hollandtwine, they still were not interested in what was becoming obvious to us would be the destruction of the main Hollandtwine shaft and the land around it.
At this point we started to organise a second attempt at opening the Climbing shaft. I think it was in early 1977 I contacted Australian friend, Garry Clarke (“Bazza”) who worked for a radiolocation company in Bristol, and asked if he was prepared to come up to Derbyshire with his Radiolocation kit to locate the climbing shaft at Hollandtwine, he agreed.
I am not sure of the specific date when Bazza came up to Radiolocate the Climbing shaft but looking at Tony Jarratt's second logbook it must have been sometime between January and March 1977.
March 11th 1977
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book
NB W/E 6/3/77 - two days fruitless digging to find Hollandtwine Climbing shaft (no names of the participants are mentioned).
March 13th 1977
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book
Al (Steans) and I took the telephone to the top of the Hollandtwine Mine 10m climbing shaft to contact Mac and Bill (McGuiness?) at surface. We found that it was possible to hear each other Alan Steans, Mike, talking without the phone and we must be very close - though several hours strenuous digging failed to reveal any sign of the shaft.
March 19th 1977
From Tony Jarratt's Log Book
More surface digging and shoring at Hollandtwine. Extensive collapses of the sides didn't help matters. A great weekend though!
October 1977 - The complete destruction of Hollandtwine main shaft is imminent
October 2nd 1977
From Tony Jarratts Log Book
2nd October 1977 Recovery trip for digging equipment and old mining equipment. The Jackpot lads were abseiling main shaft to bottom. We used the PDMHS man rider to 150' and then headed down the climbing shafts. AI, Mike, Bill and the Jackpots cleared all gear from the natural series while the three of us loaded stuff onto the PDMHS gear-hauling winch at shaft bottom. All the platforms and scaffolding were demolished and removed. The superb mine tram from the 360' level was removed (along with rail sections and other artefacts) and all fixed tackle pulled out. The PDMHS did a very fine job. The trip was necessitated by the fact that the spar man is going to remove the top surface layer – including the tops of both shafts! All gear was removed in case it became impossible to re-open the mine. The tram is to go to a display at the new mining museum in Matlock.
Bob Dakin and the Tram on the 360ft level
Peter (R.A.) Webb 360ft level
The recovered tram with PDMHS winches to rear. Photo Harry Parker
The tram on display at the PDMHS Mining Museum, Matlock Bath
Photo Peak District Mining Museum
Within months Hollandtwine main shaft had been destroyed!
I never received any notification from Peak District National Park that Hollandtwine had been destroyed!
It was a great sadness to us all that the authorities at the time were not prepared to intervene on what was a large part of north Derbyshire’s mining history.
The area around Hollandtwine was eventually designated as part of the Castleton SSSI and has been extensively reclaimed to fields, which sadly provides no indication of its former historical activity. Information regarding the SSSI can be viewed by clicking here.
Stuart McManus November 2020
The circle highlights a breached shaft somewhere in the area of Hollandtwine Mine.
1977/78 Photo John N. Cordingley
When enlarged the image within the circled area appears to show several large timbers hanging over the opened shaft with a good layer of overburden holding them in place. It looks as if the dragline has pulled away the side of a shaft that was covered over and was not open at the surface. Hollandtwine Main Shaft had a substantial concrete cap on it which was laid directly on to the top of the ginging. The only other known shaft at Hollandtwine was the climbing shaft. Although this was never reopened to the surface, according to the logs it was plugged at the top with large boulders temporarily held in place using acro's whilst attempting to open it from above. So my conclusions, right or wrong, are that the photo does not show the Hollandtwine Main Shaft but a previously unknown shaft. Cheg Chester
The obove photo I believe, is taken on the 360 foot level looking towards Hazard Mine at the junction with the Bradshaw vein to the left. To note are the stone lintels which were a prominent feature throughout Hollandtwine resulting in its excellent state of preservation. Posing is the late Dave Lucas, aka 'The One Armed Octopus' Photo; P.C.N.
Photos credited to P.C.N. refer to The Pegasus Club Nottingham collection.