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Seedlow Mine at the time of this film, circa 1968 was a disused lead mine on White Rake near Wardlow.

Nat Grid Ref SK192 748     The depth of Seedlow Mine was found to be 240 feet.

Mining on White Rake had been going on for at least 200 years as evidenced by the local Barmoot Court Proceedings of the 18th Century.

Just out of historical interest there was a case listed of 27th February 1760 when Robert Ashford claimed that he was owed money by Thomas Buxton a lead miner on Seedlow Rake. Ashton had supplied Buxton candles and other goods for use in his mine but then Buxton died. Ashton claimed he had not been paid the £2.17s.8d. but his claim was dismissed on some technicality and he was told to pay the costs of the court which turned out to be 6d to cover the price of a meal for 12 jurors. An 18th century fast track claim perhaps!

In 1870 Thomas Elliot of Bradwell was killed in Seedlow Mine this being listed in “Some Tragedies of the Lead Mines from Bradwell” by Seth Evans 1912.


A report of a descent by Operation Mole in 1978 exists in “The Bulletin of the Peak District Mines Historical Society, Volume 7, Number 2, Page 112”

So 200 years on from Thomas Buxton’s mining exploits The Pegasus lads in the 1960’s decided to explore the mine and film the winching exercise.
Bob Dakin made several films at the time. This film shows club members accompanied by guests from RAF Scampton who used to appear from time to time for underground trips.

When one of them descended the shaft on the winch he was told to call to the telephone man who was tucked away in the adit for safety to say he was nearing the bottom so that the surface team could make a controlled stop. There were no markers on the cable in those days. When the cable stopped running out suddenly he hit the bottom of the shaft.
When asked why he did not call to the telephone man he said, “I had my eyes closed!”

It was always difficult to get on the seat as the video shows but at least you could not slip off when covered in mud. The last shot of the spinning winch handles only went at that speed when lowering the empty seat. The lads were fit!

The above compiled by Barbara Wright from Cheg Chester’s observations.


Now for the Technical Bit

The equipment in use in the video is an old traditional hand powered “crab winch” which had been refurbished by the club members.

In operation, the intrepid explorer sits on the bosun’s chair and is lowered on the wire rope at a rate controlled by a friction brake acting on the cable drum. A scaffold pole was kept handy to be wedged under the winch handles to halt the descent in case of brake failure- a good example of early health and safety in action!

The return to daylight was by laboriously turning the handles aided by the gearing, with a ratchet acting as a safety device.

Field telephones connected by twin wires were used for communication between the winch operators and the rider.

Whilst of an archaic design this type of winch is still being manufactured today.

Terry Wright 

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