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Lickpenny Mine, Winster, Derbyshire


All the information provided in this article is attributed to the exploration work carried out by the ‘North Staffs Mining Club’ in October 1973.

In the opening paragraph of the following Report, reference is made to members of the M.M.R.G. (Metalliferous Mines Research Group) carrying out the exploration of Lickpenny Mine in October 1973, but as this group was a ‘Sub-Group’ of the ‘North Staffs mining Club’, then full credit for the following article is attributed to the latter.

‘Lickpenny’, is defined in Collins Dictionary as q.v. ‘Something that uses up large amounts of money’.

It is assumed that ‘Lickpenny Lane’ which is adjacent to the mine was named after the mine and not vice versa.

The North Staffs Mining Club undertook exploration of two mines in the area of Lickpenny Lane and they are referred to in their records as Lickpenny 1, NGR SK23330 60241  and Lickpenny 2, NGR SK23291 60346. This report and survey only covers the exploration of Lickpenny 1.

However, today at the site of Lickpenny 1 there is no indication at surface level that a mine existed there as the hillocks have been levelled and surrounding ground returned to pasture land. See Fig. 3

Fig. 4  shows the relevant positions of Lickpenny mine 1 (LP1 2) and Lickpenny mine 2 (LP2 3) in relation to Westhills Portaway Mine and part of Winster Sough.

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Fig. 1. Survey of Lickpenny Mine, North Staffs Mining Club 1973. ©

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Fig. 2. Section sketch through Lickpenny Mine, North Staffs Mining Club 1973. ©


This mine is situated in field No. 266 at N.G.R. SK 23330 60243 just north of Lickpenny Lane. Exploration was carried out by members of the M.M.R.G. in October 1973. When first examined, the shaft vas covered by a huge dry-stone beehive. This beehive had to be removed and this proved more easily said than done as it was virtually impossible to stop the bulk of it from falling down the shaft. Eventually however, the beehive was removed and the shaft was plumbed, the depth being 200 ft.

The shaft is 8 ft. in diameter at the top and is ginged with rough, limestone blocks to a depth of approximately 35 ft. The ginging is slightly funnel shaped as the diameter at the bottom of the ginging is only 5 ft. Part-way down the shaft, some of the ginging has run and this has exposed a clay filled joint some 2-3 ft. wide.

Below the ginging the shaft is triangular in section, is hand dressed and is sunk entirely in solid limestone. The shaft maintains this section for approximately 100 ft. where at this point there are two short passages running off, one on either side of the shaft, both passages are only about 12 ft. long and are driven in solid rock.

Immediately below these two short levels the shaft is dog-legged with an offset of approximately 3 ft. From here the shaft assumes a rectangular section of some 4 ft. 6 ins. x 2 ft. 6 ins. the shaft still being sunk in solid rock. The shaft maintains this section for a further 75ft. at which point it breaks into a cavernous area, although this resembles a worked out stope as it is only between 2-3 ft. wide and is on a fissure. At this point the first real passage off from the shaft leads off to the north. The floor of this passage is built up on deads and these carry on to the bottom of the shaft some 20 ft, below.

At the bottom of the shaft a small passage runs to the south for about 40 ft, to a run-in and this would appear to be an easy dig as one can see over the fall, this passage also carries a stream of water which is flowing towards the shaft. To the north from the bottom of the shaft the level has been choked with rubble that has fallen down the shaft (the beehive etc.). The stream mentioned would appear to be completely separate from another one encountered further in the mine.

Back at the first passage, as mentioned, the floor is built up on stacked deads but these only extend back a few feet into the passage after which, the floor is solid rock. Throughout the length of this passage the section is between 3 ft. 6 ins. and 4 ft. 6 ins. high by 3 ft. to 5 ft wide. As the further development of the mine was realised this passage was termed the "Top Level". Half buried in the deads at the start of this passage is what was thought to be the remains of a stowe, there were the remains of a barrel and also pieces of old iron laying around which could also be part of this.

The passage is in a worked out bedding plane which has been extensively backfilled, the first stretch of passage is only packed on one side, the right hand or east side, the west side being solid rock. After 8 ft, the passage turns sharp right and along this section the passage is packed on both sides and one can see over the packs for quite a distance. After a further 15 ft, the passages reaches the head of the first winze which is 25 ft. deep and here the passage turns sharp right again.  In this section the passage is only packed on the right hand aide and is solid rock on the left hand wall, this gives the impression that the whole block between this section of passage and the shaft has been worked out and then backfilled. This latter section of passage continues for 30 ft, from the top of the winze to the start of a large chamber.

The chamber is 45 ft. long and 25 ft. wide and at its highest point it is about 15 ft. high. The floor is made up of very large boulders and brown clay and everything is covered in pure white calcite flowstone, in fact, none of the mud and clay, which is often ankle deep, was exposed until the calcite surface was broken. Also on the floor were many flowstone formations covering what could have been straw fuses. On the roof of the chamber are many semi formed stalactites and curtains.

At the far end of this chamber there are two winzes and the chamber runs past these winzes as a low crawl for about 12 ft. before finally closing right down. The first of these winzes is 7 ft. deep and leads into a small passage running off both ways from the bottom but these can only be followed for a short distance either way before the banded clay infill through which they are driven has collapsed. The floor of this passage is calcited over and has preserved perfectly some old boot prints in the mud floor, they are only very small and are perhaps


The second winze in the chamber is 15 ft. deep and at the top of this was found an old pricker, which was covered with flowstone. The winze is packed on three sides with deads and the fourth side is solid rock. The deads are packed for 10 ft. and the bottom of the pack is resting on clay and so has to be treated with respect.

The bottom of this winze breaks into a passage with a stream running through it and this passage was termed the "Mid Level". Down- stream, back under the high chamber, the passage closes down and becomes inaccessible because of silting up. An attempt was made to push this passage but failed due to the fact that once you attempted to crawl, flat out, over the solid looking silt, the calcite surface which had formed over it broke and one immediately began to sink in the silt, a thrilling experience as the passage here is very restricted.

Upstream of the winze the passage continues for about 50 ft. The first 10 ft. of this passage is 4 ft. high by 3 ft. wide after which it breaks out into a stope 15 ft. high by 5-6 ft. wide. At the end of the stope the level has run-in and in the rubble are the remains of old timbers, no doubt once supporting this rubble. The stream flows from over the fall and one can crawl along over the top of this for about 10 ft. to reach the end of the passage.

The first winze out of the "Top Level" was descended and was found to be very tight in places and appears to have been sunk on a vein, or at least a fissure as no mineralisation was noted. At 18 ft. down a landing was reached and here a passage runs through the winze, this passage carries a stream of water. The winze is sunk a further 7 ft. to where a lower stream passage can be seen with the water flowing in the opposite direction to the water in the passage that one is already in and these later proved to be the same stream.

Returning to the higher of the two stream passages, this is thought to be a continuation of the "Mid Level" and the survey almost proves this. It can be followed upstream for 18 ft. to where it becomes too low and all this section of passage is at a low crawling height. The passage downstream can be followed for 15 ft., all the way maintaining its low section, until it reaches a 3 ft. step down over some deads. This point marks the start of the lowest stream passage termed the "Bottom Level". The passage now becomes 3-4 ft. high by the same width and has a solid roof and floor and is packed on either one or both sides, It is a remarkably neat and tidy passage and maintains its size and appearance throughout its entire length.

The course of the passage is now in an oxbow, which swings it round back upon itself and eventually runs past the bottom of the 25 ft. winze 7 ft. below the "Mid Level". Here one has to crawl over the rubble that has fallen down the winze but after this the passage is clear again.

The passage now takes a very sinuous course for 150 ft. to where a, beautiful coffin level starts, along this section the passage crosses a number of small stringers but very little mineralisation was seen.

On a ledge on the right hand wall, just before the start of the coffin level, the bowl of an old broken clay pipe was found.

The coffin level is 3 ft. 6 ins. high by 2 ft. wide and runs almost dead straight for 230 ft. to a run-in at what appears to have been a rise on one of the several veins that cross the level. At one of the other veins which cross the level, water can be seen to seep away to the north through a crack in the floor but it is only a very small quantity and most of the water flows down the coffin level.

In places along the level the remains of an old wooden railway can be seen and this one would think would put a reasonably early date on the workings. Along parts of the coffin level a water mark could be seen some 3 ft. above floor level which suggests that the level floods occasionally.

This mine was one of the mines mentioned in the agreement for the Winster Sough, to be un-watered by the sough, though none of the passages seen in the exploration could with certainty be said to be part of it.

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Fig. 3. Nigel Burns positioned on the recorded location of entrance shaft into Lickpenny 1 Mine, Westhills Farm in the distance (centre)  Photo:  Cheg Chester 2023


Quite an entertaining time was had by all in the evacuation of the mine following the exploration and survey. By the time Alan and Pete were ready to come out it had turned dark and a thunder storm was in full fury. Under such adverse conditions Sods Law always decrees that if anything can go wrong then it shall do. This occasion was no exception. After I had winched Alan out I sent the chair back down for Pete, or should I say that was the intention, for the chair got caught up on the dog-leg in the shaft about 100 ft. down. No amount of pulling and tugging would release the chair past the dog-leg and so the only course open to us, apart from leaving Pete down there forever, was to bring the chair back up and to lower Alan down to the ledge where he could get off and guide the chair down to Pete. This was done and Pete left the telephone with Alan at the ledge while I winched Pete out. I then lowered the chair back down to the ledge and winched Alan out.

By this time all concerned were utterly soaked to the skin and pig sick so we hastily dismantled the equipment and covered the shaft and retreated to the cottage for the night. Next morning we returned to the shaft, the weather now being much better, and rebuilt the beehive.

The building of the beehive was good fun? Have you ever tried to cover a hole 8 ft. diameter with the largest stones available being only about 18 inches long. More by luck than judgment the task was finally completed.


Report Ends

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Fig. 4  shows the relevant positions of Lickpenny Mine 1 (LP1 2) and Lickpenny MIne 2 (LP2 3) in relation to Westhills Portaway Mine and part of Winster Sough. North Staffs Mining Club ©


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