Luck I'th Lane 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 the mid 1970’s.
The entrance shaft to Luck I’th Lane Mine is situated in field No. 194, NGR SK 24679 60630, within the parish of Winster, Derbyshire and has a recorded depth of 60 feet. The school shown in the centre of of Fig. 1 is now the present day (2023) ‘Winster Church of England Primary School’.
Fig. 1. Line survey derived from Fig. 2 and overlaid on the 25" OS map of Derbyshire XXVIII.16: Revised: 1897, Published: 1899. (Overlay plotted 2023)
Fig. 2. ’North Staffs Mining Club’ (Mid 1970’s) survey of Luck I'th Lane Mine. ©
This shaft is shown on a Barmaster's plan as being vaguely in a title called Luck i'th Lane. However, it was descended in the hope that it might have been sunk onto workings on the southern range of Yatestoop Vein, as this vein is shown on the '1768 Nuttal Plan' as ranging north from a point only 50 yards to the north of the shaft in question, starting just to the north of the Winster – Wensley road. Unfortunately these hopes proved to be unfounded as will be seen from the survey as all the workings entered trend roughly east-west. Whilst the workings explored do not cover any great extent due to their complex nature it is convenient to split them up into four main sections to fully describe them.
The shaft, which is located on a small hillock, is 60 ft. deep and is ginged with rough limestone blocks to a depth of only 12 ft. at which point the ginging is sat directly onto solid limestone. The section of the shaft through the ginging is 2 ft. 6 ins. - 3 ft. diameter but this changes once into the solid limestone to a rectangular section of 2 ft. by 3 ft. and the walls cf the shaft are hand dressed with numerous sweeping pick marks and there are also the remains of wooden climbing stemples in situ although these are now calcited over.
At a depth of 50 ft. a rubble strewn ledge is reached and here the shaft steps over to the south by 2-3 ft. to where it becomes a small hole which breaks out into the roof of a working, this being a small chamber. Out of this chamber, at the bottom of the shaft, two main passages lead off. One passage leads off to the east and the other to the west whilst a low hole at floor level gives access to the north into a semi-backfilled level which itself runs both east and west. This latter passage contains pools of water and mud and all are dealt with more fully later in these notes.
1. The East Series
The passage off to the east from the bottom of the shaft is 5 ft. high by 4 ft. wide in section and slopes down quite steeply for the first 8 ft. over a pile of rubble which his accumulated at the base of the shaft. After 12 ft. along this passage a junction is reached with two branch passages leading off to the right, south, from above a 3 ft. high pack of deads, and on the top of this pack the remains of an old kibble was found. This was constructed of timber with iron reinforcing bands and had a typically 18th century styled wrought iron handle. The point where the branch passages lead off and where the kibble was found is referred to as SP 1 on the survey and the branch passages from here are dealt with in the south series-
Continuing beyond SP 1 the passage now turns to head north-east for 15 ft. and inclines down to open out into a small chamber which is 5 ft. 6 ins. high by 7 ft. wide in section, the right-hand wall is packed with deads. At the chamber a further junction is reached and here a low semi backfilled crawl leads off to the north to end after 15 ft. To the west is the start of the passage that is first seen down the low hole at the foot of the entrance shaft and is part of the north series whilst the main east series level continues to the north-east along the axis of the chamber. At the far end of the chamber the floor inclines up very steeply to rise 5 ft. as a ramp and at the top of this the main passage changes direction to head due east. Also at the top of the ramp, at the apex of the bend, a very low crawl continues off to the northeast but this is too tight to follow due to backpacking. Continuing along the main passage for a further 20 ft. from this point a vein is cut and the passage turns slightly left again to follow it whilst out of the right-hand wall a short blind heading leads back for 6 ft. to the west along the vein.
The vein that the passage is now following shortly turns to the north-east and is a typical washed out fissure, the passage shows many natural features and there is much brown clay infill present. The section of the passage becomes very erratic varying from 3 ft. square in section to 6 ft. high by 4 ft. wide, this being mainly due to large piles of the clay infill frequently covering the floor. After 50 ft. has been traversed along the vein a low hole leads out of the right-hand wall and gives access after only two feet into a narrow rift which extends up for approximately 10 ft. but this soon closes down at its eastern end to continue for 60 ft. as a very tight passage some 18 ins. to 2 ft. wide by 2 ft. 6 ins. high that terminates in a small worked-out pocket. Back in the main level a further 25 ft. from here brings one to a point where the passage starts to incline down very steeply. The incline goes down for 20 ft. over a floor of oozing mud to end at the top of a choked winze that is now only 8 ft. deep. Just before the winze is reached there are several initials carved into the right-hand wall:- C.H., R.C., W.H., .R.B., and a date 1782. There were other initials also but the ones above were the only ones that could be distinguished. At the far side of the 6 ft. deep winze the passage continues very low, 2 ft. 6 ins. high, and closes down and ends after 25 ft. as the clay infill has been left in situ.
2. The West Series
Returning back to the entrance shaft the passage off to the west from here is 8 ft. high by 5 ft. wide in section and is packed on the north side and again shows many natural features. This passage leads to a ‘T’ junction after 35 ft. having closed down to 4 ft. high by 5 ft. wide. This point is SP 2 on the survey and the left-hand branch is part of the south series.
Access to the west series is by taking the right-hand branch at the ‘T’ junction where a very tight body hole leads north for 10 ft. to emerge into a roomy chamber from the top of a 3 ft. high step. To the left the floor inclines down into a blocked winze. Straight ahead the floor of the chamber inclines up steeply over a floor of rubble and closes down in height to 3 ft. whilst veering round to the west. This passage has continued on at one time but has now been completely backfilled with large lumps of clay. At the start of the backfilled section a low passage leads off to the left, south, to enter a lofty chamber at the foot of a rise. This chamber may also be reached by skirting the blocked winze in the first chamber and climbing up a 6 ft. high step over a large mud covered boulder. Once into the second chamber one is at the foot of a 25 ft. high rise as stated, down which water trickles. This rise was climbed but proved to be blind. From the foot of the rise the previously described passage leads off back to the north whilst the main chamber continues to the south. A third way off leads to the south-west along a wide clay-filled vein but this ends after 12 ft. with the infill still in situ. At the end of this passage a tight winze inclines down to the south to lead through a series of mainly backfilled workings to re-emerge into a chamber to be described later.
To the south from the foot of the rise the chamber opens out on the left-hand side and a washed-out fissure vein can be seen in the roof. Over on the extreme left-hand side the floor inclines down into a backfilled working and at the head of this is a large pile of mud and stones that has the appearance of being the base of a run-in shaft. In the centre of the chamber is a 7 ft. deep winze that leads into the mainly backfilled area previously mentioned. The workings in this section of the mine are mainly in mineralised natural caverns and have formerly been worked much deeper than the present floor level and this lower section has later been used to dispose of the deads. Most of the mining rubble encountered consists of clay infill. At the southern end of the chamber is a small passage leading off out that passes over an inclined winze down into the backfilled lower series. From here one enters yet another chamber whose floor consists entirely of deads. A pathway runs through the chamber on top of these deads whilst on either side the floor slopes away into choked shallow winzes.
The first winze on the right-hand side, west, is the only one that is still open and from the bottom of this a crawl over backfill leads off to the north before inclining up to re-emerge in the level off to the vest from the second chamber that contains the blind rise and described earlier. At the far end of the chamber, which is up to 20 ft. high, is a 4 ft. step up into a narrower passage and on the left-hand side at the top of the step is a passage leading off to the east. Straight ahead from this junction the main level to the south now closes down very considerably and inclines down as a tight crawl over backfill for 20 ft. into a small mud-filled pocket that contains stacked deads and collapsed rubble from which protrudes old rotted stemples. No way on now exists from here and so it is necessary to return to the junction at the top of the incline.
The passage off to the cast from here starts from the top of a 3 ft. high step and is a low hands and knees crawl that leads for 30 ft. to intersect a north-south trending vein. The passage enters the workings on this vein from the top of a 4 ft. high step. To the left, north, the working closes down to a blind heading after only 10 ft. whilst to the south the passage can be followed for 20 ft. as a tight crawl. Here the passage was almost completely blocked with a clay infill that had been discharged from a higher level and a dig was started to enlarge the passage so that access could be made into the workings beyond. This dig resulted in a tight access hole being made that inclined up steeply over the clay rubble to enter a nice little cavern trending east-west. This cavern is only about 4 ft. high hut contains some fine flowstone formations and small stalactites hang from the bedding plane roof. On entering this chamber the floor to the left, east, slopes down for 8 ft. to give access via a very tight body hole into a small pocket that has two ways leading off. The left-hand passage ends after 13 ft. after passing a low backfilled working on its north side whilst the right-hand passage become too tight to follow after 15 ft. although a way on could be seen into a much larger working ahead. This latter working must have formerly had easier access from a now lost route or perhaps from a different surface shaft. Back in the chamber the way off to the right is along the axis of the chamber, passing under the stalactites mentioned previously. After 30 ft. the head of a muddy winze is reached and this was descended but was found to be blocked with collapsed deads and mud some 13 ft. down, this matrix also contains old stemples. At the head of this winze is a fine flowstone curtain.
The way on now is to the south where a fine oblong section level 3 ft. 6 ins. high by 2 ft. wide leads off dead straight for over 30 ft. to where it has been completely backfilled. The level can be seen to continue for a great distance over the top of the deads but due to the thorough job of backfilling no attempt was made to dig this out.
3. The South Series
Access into the southern workings may be made via three alternate routes. The route described is by taking the main level to the west from the foot of the entrance shaft and turning to the left, south, at the 'T' junction at SP 2. From the 'T’ junction a low crawl lends off to the south. This crawl is 3 ft. high by 2 ft. 6 ins. wide and has a natural bedding plane roof whilst the floor is composed of compacted brown clay. The passage gradually turns through 90° to the left to bring the passage round to head east. After 20 ft. along this passage from the ‘T’ junction a low body hole at the bottom of a shallow incline on the right-hand side gives access into a quite roomy pocket. Once through the body hole the floor of the pocket inclines up to the south and on the west side over a large stack of deads, a shallow winze leads down into an area, that has now been completely backfilled. To the east, up the inclined floor, the passage reduces in size to become a tight crawl some 2 ft. high by 2 ft. 6 ins. wide. This crawl gives access into a north-south trending passage whilst still retaining its constricted dimensions. To the south-east the passage inclines up into a small worked out pocket with a semi-backfilled passage leading off to the north whilst to the north the passage inclines down to enter a further pocket that abounds in stacked deads. At the east end of this pocket the floor inclines down, and is composed of deads, and visual and voice contact could be made from here with other members of the survey team who were in another passage to be described later.
Returning back into the main level, which, as stated previously, is now heading to the east, a further 20 ft. brings one to a very large block of limestone that has slipped out of the roof and appears to bar the way on. Further progress can be made however by dropping down through a small hole which leads underneath the block into a lower passage. 8 ft. beyond the large boulder a junction is reached with three alternate ways on, this junction is point SP 3 on the survey.
To the right, south-east, from SP 3 the passage off is 5 ft. high by 4 ft. wide and the floor inclines up steeply until after 10 ft. the section of the passage has become 3 ft. high by 2 ft. 6 ins. wide, also along this section of passage the right-hand wall is packed with deads and one can see over those into a pocket. From the top of the latter incline the passage turns to the right whilst to the left from this point a very low semi-backfilled crawl goes off inclining up steeply to end after 15 ft. Continuing for 10 ft. beyond this junction the passage now reaches a ‘T’ junction. The passage off to the right leads down into a low back-packed area, which is the pocket that can be seen behind the deads mentioned earlier. Also from this pocket is the place when visual and voice contact could be made through to the workings described previously. To the left from the ‘T’ junction the passage is again very low, 2 ft. high by 2 ft. 6 ins. wide, and after 15 ft. this closes down even more to become an incredibly tight flat out crawl very much like the 'Bung’ in Knotlow Mine, and after 25 ft. this becomes too tight to follow. The right-hand side of this passage is extensively packed.
Returning back to SP 3 the passage off to the left, north is 2-3 ft. high by 3 ft. wide with a floor of deads and this leads after 25 ft. back to SP 1 on the survey as one of the two passages that emerges from the top of the step on which the kibble was found. Back at SP 3 the passage straight on, north-east, is 4 ft. high by 3 ft. wide in section and the floor is covered with clay and barytes gravel. After 5 ft. a branch passage goes off to the left and this again leads after 25 ft. back to SP 1. By continuing beyond this branch the passage opens out in section to become 5 ft. high by 4 ft. 6 ins. wide and the left-hand wall is packed with deads that are composed almost exclusively of blocks of solid barytes. These deads conceal a low crawl, which runs parallel to the main passage and access is gained into this via a gap in the deads but this parallel passage does not extend very far. After a total of 30 ft. from SP 3 the section of the passage closes down to become 3 ft. high by 4 ft. wide and here there is a pocket in the left-hand wall. The section of the passage beyond this point becomes very erratic with the floor being uneven as it passes over large blocks and scree. After a further 25 ft. the passage ends, as the clay infill is still in situ.
The pocket previously mentioned as going off to the left 25 ft. before the end of the main passage inclines up steeply over a scree slope for 10 ft. to where the pocket closes down at the foot of a small rise that goes up 6 ft. and gives access into a higher series of completely natural passages. From the top of the rise the passage heads back directly above the lower main passage and is developed along a washed out fissure and is completely natural. The walls, floor, and roof are all covered with dark chocolate coloured clay, which is so smooth that it looks like dark flowstone. This passage continues for 20 ft. to its end where it closes down and is completely filled with clay. 4 ft. from the end of this passage a branch passage goes off to the left, again this is completely natural and everything is covered with the dark brown clay. This passage is 3 ft. 6 ins. high by 3 ft. 6 ins. wide in section and this too closes down and ends after 20 ft.
4. The North Series
Access into these workings may be made directly from the foot of the entrance shaft by crawling down through the tight hole to the north. This way in is now almost completely choked with rubble that has been dropped down the shaft. A much more pleasant route is by taking the main level off to the east from the shaft, passing the kibble on the right, and following the passage down the slight incline for a further 15 ft. to a small chamber that has previously been described. By taking the left-hand branch out of this chamber a crawl over backfill from the top of a 4 ft. high step leads back to the west and passes the low hole back to the base of the entrance shaft on the left. This part of the passage, near the shaft, is rather muddy and wet but this soon gives way to a more comfortable level. After 10 ft. from the shaft the passage turns to head north-west whilst a former continuation straight on to the south-west is now completely backfilled. At the turning point of the passage, carved in the right-hand wall, are the initials T.B., I.H. From here the passage inclines down and is 3 ft. 6 ins. high by 4 ft. wide and continues for 35 ft. to emerge into a small chamber. The chamber opens out on the west side and here there is a 6 ft. deep blind winze. Immediately above the winze is an unstable pack of deads blocking off a now backfilled level to the west. This level has been driven along a vein and this can be seen crossing the roof of the chamber ranging roughly north-south. The vein is again a typical washed out fissure as commonly seen in this mine. Continuing out of the chamber to the north-west the width of the passage increases to 4 ft. 6 ins. and the whole of the left-hand side consists of stacked deads. Some 25 ft. from the chamber a gap in these deads gives access to a blind winze whilst from over the top of this a tight crawl over deads leads west into a former working place that is now almost choked with deads. Back in the main level and continuing for a further 25 ft. brings one to another chamber.
This chamber is quite roomy and on the right-hand tide a low crawl leads off to end after 12 ft. To the left from the chamber a semi-backfilled crawl leads along a flatwork for 20 ft. to terminate at a blind heading. Straight ahead from the chamber, to the north-west, the passage may be followed over a floor of deads for 15 ft. before turning right into a small pocket at which point this passage ends. Back in the chamber, near the west wall, a 6 ft. high rise goes up to give access into a passage leading off to the south-west. This passage, some 4 ft. 6 ins. high by 6 ft. wide, leads for 35 ft. before turning to the north-west to follow a vein. From here the section closes down to 3 ft. high by 3 ft. wide and a tight hole is passed on the right after 30 ft. that goes down into a backfilled working. Continuing for a further 35 ft., the head of a 10 ft. deep winze is reached, Here the height increases to 12 ft. as a small stope has been developed on the vein, which here hades up to the right. At the bottom of the winze a very tight crawl continues north-west for a few feet to terminate in a small pocket.
Whilst it was disappointing to find that these workings did not give access into any major veins or known workings i.e. Yatestoop, they were however very interesting in their own right, The mine is typical of a small, poorly capitalised, 18th century venture and was most probably worked by a small group of miners who were most probably also the owners. Of particular interest is the development of pipe-type workings and mineralisation at the relatively shallow depth of 60 ft. and one can only speculate as to how many more interesting shallow workings exist amongst the numerous shafts ranging up the hillside to the south from here. The veins seen in these workings were all developed along washed out natural fissures and no general trend could be discerned. Very little of the mining debris has been removed from the workings but much effort has been expended on backfilling worked out areas. The mineralisation, where seen, is mainly of the flat-work type with the prominent gangue minerals being calcite and barytes. Some of the barytes seen was most unusual in that it was coloured pink or red at the edges and this gave way to the more normal yellow colour towards the centre of the samples examined, the outer edges had the appearance of secondary alteration. Almost all of the workings explored had been driven along natural joints or through water-worn chambers although hard-rock mining using explosives has been done in parts, mainly to enlarge these natural fissures. The main north-west south-east trending vein may well be Buxton field Vein as this ranges from north-south through fields 130, 121, 132, 134 and is shown on a Barmaster's plan as extending as far south as the Winster - Wensley road.