Rupin 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.
No National Grid References are stated in the report but reference to the 25" OS map of the area gives NGR SK 22747 60290 for Rupin 'Main Shaft' and NGR SK 22744 60252 for Rupin 'Climbing Shaft'.
The position of the 'Run-in Surface Shaft' shown on the survey is not marked on the 25" OS map but when the survey is overlaid on the 25" OS map a location for it would be at NGR SK 22749 60244.
The current depths of the ‘Main’ shaft is 197 feet, the depth of the ‘Climbing’ Shaft will be determined at a future date and the article updated with the new information.
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)
Rupin Mine 'Main shaft' crudely capped. Note Westhills farm in the distance.
Photo: Simon Redfern, July 2023
The name of this mine is not known for sure but it is shown on a Barmaster's map as being on Dirtyface Vein and is drained by an extension of Cowclose Sough which empties into the small valley to the north of Elton.
The main shaft is situated on top of a large spoil heap in field no. 223 and is 2I0 ft. deep. This shaft is a large one in section, being some 7 ft. by 4 ft. below the ginging, and is lined with rough limestone blocks for a depth of approximately 20 ft. The condition of the ginging leaves much to be desired as there is a pressure bulge on the west side and there are many loose blocks near the top. On the south side part of the bottom of the ginging has collapsed and a huge block is now left precariously wedged in the side. On the north side the ginging is supported on an arch and appears to be reasonably safe provided caution is exercised in descending the shaft.
A Climbing shaft located just over the wall in field no. 272 is also associated with this mine and is 160 ft. deep but this has not been descended as the base of this shaft has been reached via workings from the main shaft and is found to be choked with rubble.
Rupin Mine climbing shaft. Photo: Simon Redfern July 2023
Fig. 2. ’North Staffs Mining Club’ (Mid 1970’s) survey of Rupin Mine. ©
As stated, the dimensions of the shaft are very large and below the ginging the shaft assumes a rectangular section of 7 ft. by 4 ft. At a depth of approximately 170 ft. a coffin level leads off to the S.W. and this is the only working off the shaft before the base is reached, some 20 ft. from the bottom of the shaft the dimensions increase as it enters cavernous ground and at the base of the shaft one is in a small chamber. From here three main routes lead out and these will be referred to as passages 1-3 as follows:-
Passage No. 1
This passage is part of a sough level and leads off to the S.S.W. as a walled passage some 5 ft. high by 3 ft. wide for a distance of 15 ft. at which point a small rise leads up into a large chamber above the passage. Beyond this rise the walled level continues straight ahead and in a further 8 ft. a second rise is reached which also leads up into the large chamber previously mentioned. Continuing beyond here the passage can be followed for 18 ft. to where it turns to the S.S.E, to end at a choke after a further 8 ft. A strong stream of water issues from this choke and flows along the passage back to the shaft, the depth of water along here is 2 ft. 6 ins. deep. The workings up in the chamber have not been fully explored but will be described later.
Passage No. 2
This passage leads off from the shaft in a south-westerly direction and is a continuation of the sough level and all of the water from passage No. I flows along this level. After 18 ft. the passage starts to veer round to the north and 54 ft. from the shaft enters a large chamber. A low passage leads off to the west for 20 ft. immediately on entering the chamber and opposite this, on the east side, a semi-collapsed pack partially blocks the sough. The chamber is a large one with dimensions of 41 ft. long by 15 ft. wide and 20 ft. high. The floor is packed and the water from the sough flows under this rubble for most of the length of this chamber before re-appearing near the northern end of the chamber and here a small dam has been made. The dam consists of an iron grid and may have been
intended to act as a sieve to stop small stones being washed along into the continuation of the sough. On the east side of the chamber a small passage leads off back to the south to a blind heading after a few feet, whilst a few feet beyond here a alcove inclines down slightly from out of the main chamber and from the south side of this a passage leads off to the south as a tight crawl back towards the shaft via workings to bo described later.
Continuing north beyond the chamber the sough passage once again closes down to become a passage 4 ft. high by 4 ft. wide with an 18 ins. depth of water and after 13 ft. a collapse is reached but by climbing up at this point access can be made into a very shattered area. This shattered area consists of a chamber with a very steep and unstable bank leading up from the funnel shaped hole through which one has emerged and the only way on is to climb the north bank over large, loose, blocks and this gives access into a more stable pipe-cavern. On entering the cavern the head of a shallow winze is reached and this leads back down into the sough level but cannot be followed due to an infill of debris from the cavern. Continuing to the northern end of the chamber a second winze leads back into the sough and this winze is sunk on the junction of a Break Vein from the main vein and a stream of water also enters the sough from along this break vein. To the north the sough can be seen to continue but due to the restricted height and width (2 ft. by 18 ins.) and the combined flow of the two streams of water this was not followed.
Back up in the chamber a pathway leads off to the west and then turns to the N.W. to follow the break vein and here a large amount of timber is strewn around on the floor. It is difficult to tell if the workings along the break vein have ever continued beyond those at present accessible as there has been much back-filling but it does not appear to have extended much further.
Passage No. 3
Passage No.3 from the base of the shaft leads to the most complex system of wordings in the mine and will have to be sub-divided for reference purposes. The main passage off from the shaft leads off in a S.E. direction and an area on the south side of this has been worked out and partially backfilled. At 14 ft. from the shaft a junction is reached with a passage leading off to the N.E. as a low hole that emerges in a small chamber and as further passages lead off from this chamber it will be referred to as CI. The chamber CI is l8 ft. long by 8 ft. wide and up to 6 ft. high and is aligned roughly N.W.-S.E. To the north a further small chamber can be entered and this contains a winze down into further workings that were entered on the first initial exploration of the mine but which have subsequently remained flooded and therefore inaccessible since. A further passage leads off to the north from this chamber but as it is at the far side of the flooded section it has not yet been explored and surveyed. The only remaining way off is to the S.W. and this is a low passage that leads for 25 ft. to emerge at a junction in a large pocket. To the south a former passage once led back to the base of the shaft but this has now been completely filled with deads. Ahead a small trial leads off to the N.W. to a blind heading whilst the main way on is to the N.N.W. 16 ft. along this passage a way leads off to the west and intersects a vein ranging roughly N.-S. By following the passage to the north for 24 ft. the dimensions slowly decrease until a tight crawl leads one through into the alcove on the east side of the large chamber along passage No.2, near to the dam mentioned earlier in the notes.
Returning now to the chamber CI, the second way on out of here is to the east and this is a passage nearly like a coffin-level but not quite as neat. On entering this passage, which is down a rubble slope from the chamber, a pocket is encountered on the south side and this connects back through to chamber CI. Continuing beyond here the passage is between 4 ft. 6 ins. and 5 ft. high by 2 ft. 6 ins. wide and leads for 22 ft. before turning to the south and in a further 22 ft. the head of a flooded winze is reached. A packed and unstable foot-way leads round the west side of the winze and a further I2 ft. brings one to a second flooded winze and this too has an unstable path around its west side. Shortly beyond here the passage becomes much lower and is very shattered and there is mud every-where. 27 ft. from the second winze a junction is reached with a passage leading off to the S.E. for 18 ft. and the main way on leading off to the south following a small stream of water upstream until a very shattered area is reached. Here progress along the main passage is halted by a collapse but it is possible to climb with care over this fall into a large natural and dangerously unstable area. This higher area consists basically of a natural pipe chamber from which all of the clay infill has not been removed and there are many large unattached blocks around. Access can be made back down into the south level again but once again this is found to be blocked by a major collapse. A very careful exploration of the shattered area failed to reveal any further way on.
Returning now back to the junction of passage No.3 with the passage to CI. The main level here continues to the S.S.E. as a low passage for14 ft. before opening out into a roomy passage that skirts the east side of a worked out area. Access can be made through this area into the chamber above passage No. I but this has not yet been fully explored or surveyed.
Continuing along the main level brings one to a small chamber with a climb up an incline round a rither in the vein and this is shortly followed by another chamber which is entered from the top of a large rubble slope. The way on from this chamber is along a crawl passage through the bedding with a bedding plane floor and roof for 13 ft. to emerge at the head of a winze. The winze can be descended down an incline to the N.W. for approximately 15 ft. into a small flooded working. The way on from the head of the winze is to the S.W. down a low incline. At the bottom of the incline a hole in the left-hand wall gives access into a sough level and following this to the south reveals the water issues from a fall. This sough level is nearly silted up and is very low. To the north the sough can he followed for 14 ft. to where another collapse stops further progress. At this blockage a tight crawl leads off to the east into a small pocket.
Back in the main passage one enters an area of collapse. A walled level with flowing water on the floor leads straight ahead but this is blocked after a few feet. The way on is to climb up over the collapse into a large chamber and here a further winze is encountered leading back into the walled sough, from this chamber a way leads off to the S.E. for 16 ft. to yet another winze down into the sough and the sough can also be followed from the winze in the centre of the chamber to this winze and then to the S.E. into a bedding chamber and here the sough water emerges from a fissure on the N.E. side that is too tight to follow. Back up in the higher level the passage changes direction to run due south for 22 ft. to end at a collapse whilst a continuation of the main level from the winze is a tight crawl into a worked out area with no further way off.
Returning now to the head of the winze in the centre of the large chamber the second way on leads off to the south and rises a good deal before becoming very small in dimensions to end at a small rise. This rise was termed 'The Snowman’ because of a large loose block perched in a higher level that looked like a snowman in profile, straight ahead at the top of this small rise the passage to the south is a very tight flat out crawl that was not followed. The way on from the rise is to climb up and pass the ‘Snowman’ and enter a small passage that runs back over the passage up from the large chamber. This upper passage when plotted onto the survey leads back over the large chamber and then changes direction to run south of west for 30 ft. before turning again to run roughly west for 32 ft. at which point the run-in base of the climbing shaft in field no. 272 is reached.
Returning now back into the large chamber a pathway leads off through the chamber to the N.W. from the head of the winze in the centre. After 24 ft. a flight of stone steps are reached on the south side and these lead down into another sough level. To the north the sough is a cut and covered low drain but to the south a walled level leads to a total collapse.
Digging over the top of this fall gave access into a small chamber with the sough level continuing beyond to the south. This was followed for approximately 45 ft. to a right-angle turn and here the sough water issued from a pack on the south side whilst the passage swung round to the west and contained a rough floor of blocks and deads. This passage ended at a fall but digging here gave access into an inclined working that was very manky
and led up into a small shattered chamber and despite the presence of a strong draught no way on was found. Back at the heed of the steps at the N.W. end of the chamber a passage leads on to the west to end at a collapse after 45 ft.