Snailbeach Mines Uncovered
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This was once the site of a thriving mining industry which extracted lead, zinc, copper, barytes and other minerals. In 1875, this small area produced over 10% of the United Kingdom’s lead ore. Later, until World War I, it also produced about 25% of the UK’s barytes. The Romans were probably the first to fully exploit lead in this area. Roman ingots (called pigs) marked with Emperor Hadrian’s name have been found here.
Many of the mines in the area were very profitable, especially after steam pumping engines were employed to pump out water, allowing the mines to be sunk deeper. The mining boom ended in the early 1900s when the price of lead crashed. Snailbeach continued to produce barites from its upper levels and by reworking its surface tips until 1955.