2nd July 2022 - Oliver King
Trip into Good Luck mine
One of numerous mines found in Via Gellia, Good Luck is a grade II listed mine dating from 1830, and is unusual for Derbyshire in that it is maintained and run by a small society of volunteers. It was closed in the 1950Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s, and the entrance subsequently destroyed by the landowner.
In the 1970Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s, Jim Ruewerts and others showed interest and reopened the mine. They then decided to formally work the vein and Ã¢â‚¬ËœnickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ the mine by presenting a dish of freshly worked lead ore to the Barmote court in Wirksworth.
This meant that the mine became an official working mine using original Derbyshire customs and local bylaws, and has remained so ever since.
The mine sits up the side of the Hill that hides the much larger Middleton-Hopton limestone workings, along with other ancient workings long since abandoned.
Good Luck wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t started as a mine in its own right, but initially driven to intercept other veins and scrins as an adit-level in an effort to consolidate and retrieve lead ore more easily. However, it did intercept a new vein of its own, the Good Luck vein.
Our very own Dave Woollam had recently joined the Good Luck Mine Preservation Society, and so offered a tour for club members.
Those present included Dave, Sarah, Rob, Kelly, Shaun, Dan and myself. We all gathered, a little early for DCC members, and made our way up the hill to the adit level. This is an impressive area as it presents as a plateau and you could be forgiven for thinking this was the shape of the hillside, but in fact, everything here is dead rock from the mine as it was removed and tipped out. Tracks were present along with a small coe and some other mining artefacts. The tracks disappeared into a rather small door, which would be where our adventure began.
We made our way into the mine. I was initially concerned it might not be very pleasant for folk like myself, Rob and Dan, as the entrance series was very low. Things soon opened up, and with a sigh of relief we continued on.
The first striking feature we encountered was a steep incline. This I guess was driven to match the levels of the other mines they wished to intercept. You could see at the bottom where there was a large chain across the tracks which would have been used to catch any runaway tubs.
As tempting as it would be to jump into a tub and have a ride from the top Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I think the momentum would almost certainly carry you well beyond the end of the track and over the edge of the hill! Would make for a nice, if not short flight to the valley bottom though!
As we made our way past an old windless, the first thing we noticed was a wall full of minerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s graffiti dated 1831. Very nicely etched into the rock with the sort of typeface youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d expect from the era.
Along the passages were areas where various artefacts were displayed. Some were original to the mine, for instance, an old cart lay within an alcove to the side. Other items had been donated from other mines and served as a good example of things the miners would have used to win the ore, along with examples of the sort of things lead was used for, bullets, pipe etc.
Dave took us initially up the main passage they used to drive further into the hillside, then we started splitting off into various cross veins they had intercepted.
Much of the mine was baron of ore which you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t normally expect, but given the nature of this venture it was of course more about the mines they wanted to intercept. When you did come to a fault, you could see quite a lot of white barite left with small chunks of Galina. You could see there was quite a lot of ore present, but it was more suspended within the gange than large chunks filling the vein.
One of the highlights was a couple of original climbing aids used by the miners, and re-installed to produce a sort of mini round trip. One was a chain up a vertical wall with what I would describe as iron pulling handles (as you might find on the end of a pull chain) spaced every few feet. The rock had a few accidental footholds and so most of us had a go up there. I took a bit of persuading but seeing Kelly and Sarah make it look positively easy I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t not have a go! It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quite as easy as it looked, but we made the 5 meters ascent without any issues. This led into the upper reaches of the stope with some dry walls to climb. Some climbs later led to the top of a very old chain ladder, which I can only describe as a primitive electron ladder. However, unlike an electron, the weight meant it stayed more rigid, and I guess being against a wall helped too. Certainly not as cumbersome as the dreaded things we sometimes have to use!
So after a good two hours of exploring, we started to make our way back to the entrance. On our way though, we saw evidence there was some work being done down one of the passages so we went to check it out. At the forefield we found a chap (Dave Barrie) drilling holes into the limestone. He was having a bit of a winge about the hardness of the limestone that even his twin battery SDS drill was struggling to remove!
We all sat around chatting for a bit about what he was trying to achieve, and then I think it occurred to him that we could be useful, so he called it a day, and roped us in to help carry his items back to the entrance! I think we are missing a trick at Alderley here!
We came out to nice weather which is always a bonus, and made our way to Robs where Rob and his wife Louise had generously organised some scrummy Ã¢â‚¬Ëœhelp yourselfÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ food for us all.
I also introduced everyone to peanut butter and marmalade sandwiches, which seemed to be the perfect treat after a trip underground!
Good Luck is a very interesting place, some of the stone stempling is typical of Derbyshire but up there with some of the best, and the club is clearly quite active. I will certainly return at some point to further explore parts we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t reach today.
Thanks to Dave for leading and the Good Luck folks for the work they do, along with Rob and co for filling us all up afterward with some good grub!
Type of entry: Mining Club (social)