During the Ushaw trip we also thought it would be a wicked idea to go to Grove Rake Mines (Bishop Auckland) as there is some abandoned mines (history below). Got there and the scenery was phenomenal – it was perfectly cloudy whilst still being light which I’m assuming was down to how high up we were.

Investigated the control tower, an abandoned house, a little bit of the mine (which has been sealed unfortuantely) and then… We got to the broken hut. Being greeted by what looks like a satanic, sacrificial sheep, wassssn’t on the agenda. Needless to say, that was enough for me to bail. Want to see? Scroll to the bottom.

History:

  The Groverake mine site is pretty much located at the convergence of three major veins, Greencleugh, Groverake and Red. The Burtree Pasture vein also continues to this point.

Mining at Groverake probably started in the 18th century, but it was the Beaumont Company who first developed major mining operations at the site at the end of the 1810’s and they continued working the mine until the early 1880’s. They drove adits and the two major shafts on the site that reached the Great Limestone. At their time they where mining for lead ore, but this was not that successful in terms of output. When the Weardale Lead Company took over the mine in the mid 1880’s they had more success with mining for lead and they also mined for fluorspar. The spar operations had problems in the removal of silica and this limited its success. The mine changed hands a number of times until the 1940’s.

It was not until the Second World War when the Blanchland Fluor Mines Ltd took over operations and eventually British Steel Corporation that the production of fluorspar ramped up with improved treatment techniques. These companies took Groverake to being the leading fluorspar producer in the ore field. British Steel drove a new level and extended the existing shafts. The Rake level was re-driven to give access to the upper levels of the veins and the Firestone level driven for access to the lower levels. The Drawing Shaft was sunk further into the Great Limestone to a depth of 91m. The Whimsey Shaft was sunk to the Three Year Limestone to a total depth of 165m.

In the late 1980’s the Weardale Minerals and Processing Company acquired the mine, but in 1991 its parent company went into receivership resulting in another change of hands. The mine was then operated by Sherburn Minerals and worked until 1999. At the time of its final closure, Groverake was the last commercial fluorspar mine operating in the North Pennines.