Report – Robert Stagg – 25 Mar 1819

Document Type: Report
Date: 25 Mar 1819
Correspondent: Robert Stagg
Archive Source: NEIMME LLC 40
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General Report of the Mines Lady Day 1819


Lodgesyke. Since last quarter's report we have proceeded in opening out this Mine more extensively, and I happy to say with improving prospects of a lasting and very beneficial Mine, as the Court will readily judge by the accompanying Bargain List, which is, I believe, one of the very best that has ever been sent to the Company. We have been driving the lowest Level with the utmost speed ever since I undertook the direction of this Mine, in order to put it upon the present plan of Working, and we have [underlined: 'now only'] got it up to the situation where the experiment could be completely made, and it is peculiarly gratifying to my feelings to report that it is more than realizing my utmost hopes and expectations. The Practical Agents who pass through the Mine are unanimous in their opinion that the improvement is very decided because besides affording the power of very materially increasing or diminishing the Mining of Ore as it may be required, without the slightest disadvantage, the Workmen can by this mode make equal

Wages with six or eight Shillings per Bing less price, which on the quantity we now expect to raise at this Mine (say 6 or 7000 Bings per Year) leaves an enormous saving. It will also tend in a great measure to equalize the Wages of the Miners, and to prevent the extravagant earnings of some of the partnerships, whilst others were earning little or nothing.

      The leading principle of the improvement is an allotment of a certain plot or square in the vein to each partnership which they cut Round in the first instance, whereby the Agents are enabled to judge with comparative certainty of the prices that ought to be given and, after the first cutting Round of the square, the Miners can work it with infinitely more ease and facility; and when more Ore is required to be raised, we have only to divide the Squares into two or more compartments, which will at once double or treble the raising; or, on the other hand, to throw two or three Squares into One, in order to reduce the raising in an equal degree; whilst in either of these Cases, the Mine will continue to be wrought without the Slightest alteration of principle or the least disadvantage.   I fear without a reference to the plans, and a personal explanation of them, I may not be enabled to convey to the Court a correct idea of my meaning, but upon the visit of the next Deputation, I shall have no difficulty in rendering Myself intelligible to them, and they will have the Opportunity of seeing the plan in <progress> in the Mine itself. 

      I have made arrangements to work the whole of your Mines in the same manner as we have got the Levels up that are necessary for effecting it.

      The Dead Work at this Mine is merely what is indispensable in its regular working. 

Coldberry. This is one of the most fluctuating and uncertain Mines in your possession, which renders it impossible to judge by its appearance one month, what it may become the next.  Since the Christmas Bargains its prospects, or rather its present indications, are considerably improved, and, were it not for our past experience of its uncertainty, I should pronounce it to be a very hopeful Mine. It is raising Ore, upon the average, that will leave some profit, and, I do not despair, on its becoming intersected by other Veins (several of which it has to meet with in its course) of yet seeing it a flourishing mine.   We expect it will Raise about 3 or 400 Bings of Ore this Year.  The Level driving by Ralph Nattrass &c is in this Vein, and is essential to its future Working. The Level driving by Thomas Tarn &c is for the trial of the Vein at Coldberry which we believe to be a continuation of the Lodgesyke Vein, and which, as stated in the Christmas Report, will not reach that part of it where a proper trial can be made, in less than twelve or eighteen Months. 

Hudshopehead. We have discovered a Vein that is strong and very promising in its appearance, by the Hush which the last Deputation will recollect being pointed out to them as having been set on for the purpose of general discovery in that new part of this mineral ground Josh. Pearson &c are cutting across to prove this Vein in a part of the Strata which will afford an opportunity of forming a better judgment of it. Should this Vein on trial, prove productive, it will open out an entirely new Field, as it is whole and hitherto untried & unknown for several Miles in length, the whole of which is included within the Boundaries of the [underlined: 'general grant'], for which a proposal was given to the Earl of Darlington, by Order of the last Deputation

             The other trials in Teesdale are proceeding as usual towards the objects for which they were commenced.  Each of these Levels, I expect, will reach their destination about the same time, (and we hope in twelve or fifteen months) when, if we have ordinary fortune, this district will become the most extensive and flourishing part of your concerns and may be expected to be the most profitable and lasting; as each of the Levels will lay open a large extent of new ground, which when successful, is always the most lucrative, Indeed should only one of the trials in there turn out favourably, we cannot fail to open a New Field that may be expected to hold out during the Lives of all those who have any part, at present in the concern

Weardale District

Middlehope. The Level driving by Henry Coulthard &c upon which entirely depends the Opening out of the Mine, continues excessively hard although it is a little better than at Christmas. The inevitable consequence is that notwithstanding the workings continue to be very good as we proceed, it is utterly impossible to push on the Level with speed enough to furnish new Squares to the partnerships as quickly as they work out those that are previously opened and therefore a considerable diminution in the Years Ore raising at this Mine, must, of necessity, follow in spite of our utmost efforts to prevent it. This is however the less to be regretted as we shall raise at the other Mines in this district, and at the Teesdale Mines, as much Ore during the Year as will fully employ the Mills until the commencement of the next washing Season. The only effect therefore of this insuperable difficulty will be to lessen the apparent profit of this Mine for the Year, by the dead work and general charges bearing a greater proportion than usual to the quantity of Ore Raised. 

      The Engine trial has proved much more tedious and protracted than was expected on its commencement, for, in sinking to the four fathom Limestone (the object of which was chiefly <not> on foot) we have had to pass through a succession of hard sills [underlined: 'only'], instead of the plate that is usually found above this Limestone. But although this circumstance has lengthened the trial, and increased the cost of it, we rejoice that it has happened, as it doubles our chances of obtaining valuable Mines when the trial is accomplished.

      We have also been a good deal retarded lately by the unusual dryness of the Season, which has caused a defective supply of Water to work the pumps. But unless this continues, we hope to succeed in completing this Engine trial during the present Summer, and, on its termination there is no doubt entertained that Workings will be opened that will repay the expence incurred. The other dead Work at this Mine is merely what cannot be avoided without ultimate disadvantage in its future prosecution.

At Ireshopeburn we have completed the Engine Shaft, and are now cutting across from the bottom of it to make trial of the Vein in the lower Sills, for which the Egine was created. We expect to reach the Vein in a few fathoms driving, prior to which no opinion can be given of the probable result of this trial. But there appears to be every reason to hope that a fresh and lasting Mine may be thereby regained, that will raise Ore to repay all the Cost incurred and leave a fair profit. The Ore raising at this Mine is from the old Workings which have been already opened out.

The Coldberry trial is proceeding as usual. 

Stanhopeburn. No material change has taken place since the last Report, except that we have discovered a Vein which we believe to be one of those for which we have been seeking, but as we have only just touched upon it, no opinion can yet be offered, as to what may be expected from it

Alston Moor District

Rampgill.  We are continuing as we proceed with the Levels driving by Robt Black &c and Robert Hetherington &c to open out poor workings that will leave some profit, and as the levels are advancing towards the part of the Vein, which was Richer in the upper Sills, we expect daily to obtain more profitable Mines. The joint Bargain of dead Work, and Ore Raising by John Bell &c, is to open out a Square above the leading Level, for the united purposes of ventilation and of making trial of this ground and the Sump opening out on Contract by Luke Hall &c is for the same purpose. Both will terminate in a few weeks. 

Rampgill Sun Vein. John Elliott &c are sinking from the Crosscut which they have been driving to prove, in the little Limestone, a Vein which has been discovered by the Crosscut since the Christmas Report, and which we believe to be a continuation of this Sun Vein. John Madgen &c are Rising to try the upper Sills in the same Vein. This Mine has altered greatly for the worse since last Report; and as it is approaching a Cross Vein at each end, we entertain considerable apprehensions lest the junction when it takes place, should prove fatal to it, but it may have the opposite tendency, and give us additional Mines by enriching the Cross Veins themselves, but we are by no means sanguine in this expectation. John Robson &c and Thomas Stephenson &c are driving the opposite ends of this Vein towards the Cross Veins in question, in order to make trial of them. Should they prove unsuccessful we shall not have much more to hope from this part of this hitherto very advantageous Mine. 

      The Rise put upon this Vein last quarter by J Robinson &c proved very successful and produced the Ore Working now let to Thomas Midcalf &c at 11s/ per Bing

Scaleburnmoss. The Level continues to proceed as usual towards its ultimate objects. Since last Report however we have discovered a new flat lying a longside of this Vein, and near the Forehead of the Level which, although very hard and far from rich, is likely to raise a good deal of Ore at high prices as we proceed. It is in this Flat where John Eels &c are working. They are not yet however sufficiently advanced to allow a decided opinion to be formed of what may be expected from it.

At Small Cleugh a very slight change has taken place since last Report, and that is, I am sorry to say, unfavourable. The Cross cut driving last quarter by J Barron &c has been completed, but has failed to produce any better workings. The present Bargains are no better than the poorest pickings, and, even at the high prices given, the Miners have lately made very poor Wages. The Cross cut driving by Matthew Dickinson &c is to discover the flats in new ground at a considerable distance from the present Workings; to facilitate the drawing of the Work by throwing off a long Level; and to ventilate the whole Mine. If on its reaching the situation of  the flats, it does not discover them in a better state than where they are now working, the prospects of this Old & very profitable Mine will bad [sic] indeed. But as there is no visible Reason for the failure of this Mine, (no crossing nor other impediment having been met with) we are willing to hope that its recent poverty may arise only from a [underlined: 'temporary'] contraction or [underlined: 'twitch'] (the Miners term) of the flat, and that it may yet open out again and become as productive as formerly. -  indeed fluctuations of this Nature, favourable as well as unfavourable, are so common in mining, that it is impossible to anticipate what it may take place within a month in any Mine

Middle Cleugh. There is no change entitled to notice since last quarter. The Level Driving by Geo. Raw &c has not yet reached the Vein, for the trial of which it was commenced, and the whole of the Ore Bargains at this Mine are new Pickings

Middle Cleugh 2nd Sun Vein. Thomas Armstrong &c are driving the deep water Level for the purpose of trying all the Middle Cleugh Veins in whole ground further east than they have hitherto been wrought. This is esteemed to be [underlined: 'one'] of our best chances of opening out extensive Mines in the Moor, as each of these Veins is lying whole from where the trial is expected to be made, for a very great extent. The Level is approaching just towards the point of trial. Thos Indian &c are driving an upper Level to communicate with this Level, for the joint purposes of ventilation and of trying the Sills between them. John Armstrong &c are driving a Level in the same Vein Westward, and are Raising Ore, and opening out Ore Workings as the Level proceeds, that will repay the expence of this trial. Ridley Robson &c are cutting across from this Level to a string lying off this Vein - this will be done in a Week or two. 

Carrs South End. Robert Barron &c are driving a Level to try this Vein and also, the Long Cleugh Vain; the latter of which they are expected to Cut during the quarter. The Ore raising here is entirely pickings. 

Gudhamgill. The Bargains are in Old Pickings which are so poor that Wages cannot be made even at 60s/ per Bing, which price is given to cover the Lease until we get rid of part of the dead Weight with which this District is burthened. 

Tynebottom. The bearing Sill (the Tynebottom Limestone) has by its dip, got below our Level, so that without the aid of Pumps of an Engine, little or nothing can be done here. The trial by pumps is so costly and imperfect that we are all agreed it would not be advisable to make it. Your Alston Moor Practical Agents are strongly in favour of erecting an Engine, but as this also would be attended with a very heavy expense, and can only be warranted in cases where no other means can be used, where the favourable result of the trial is almost certain, and where the objects are of considerable magnitude and as I cannot yet satisfy myself on all these points I am collecting all the information in My power, for the purpose of submitting it to the consideration of the next deputation, until which time I propose to hold the Lease by encouraging picking Bargains

      In prosecuting the Tynebottom trial we have discovered a cross Vein which we believe to be the Windshawbridge Vein) that is very promising in its appearance, and is likely to lead us to a Mine that will leave some profit, as there is no dead weight upon it. 

      The various other trials in this District are proceeding towards their several objects without any change that is deserving of notice. The Ore Bargains at all the Mines which have not been detailed are mere pickings, and those at the highest prices are to hold the Leases without dead Work. The dead Work that is absolutely necessary in this District to cover such a multitude of Leases, and to prosecute the various trials upon which alone we have to depend for future success, falls peculiarly heavy upon the Ore that is now Raising, the greater part of which is literally forced by the high prices, and the necessity the Men feel themselves under of making some trials themselves with this encouragement, rather than being without employment.

      Several of the trials are approaching fast to an end, and I hope may lead us to better Mines, and they are all such as, in the present stage of them, could not, with any propriety, be relinquished. But with the present state of these Mines, and a falling Lead Market, the [underlined: 'immediate'] prospect of this District is rendered very gloomy and unpromising, and this Years result, will, I fear, be by no means favourable; as the Mines have generally become unusually poor. Still, however, we do not despair of regaining in a little time, better Mines, and of again witnessing this District in a flourishing State, as several of the trials in progress can hardly fail to be productive of much Ore.

      The Millstone that weighs down the profits of this District is the almost endless Leases we are forced to maintain, and the equally endless extent of Levels that have to be upheld; which necessarily create an unavoidable & great expenditure at all times but which is peculiarly felt when the Mines happen to become poor. In every instance of Renewing the Leases of the Greenwich Hospital, I have contended for an extension of Boundary. I have thus already succeeded in greatly curtailing the Number of Leases, and at this moment I am corresponding with the Receivers of the Hospital with a view to a further curtailment in the renewal of several Leases which are now expiring. I do not expect that they will grant all the indulgence in this way that I have solicited, but I have reason to hope that they will be induced to throw two or three Leases into one in each case where there are several Leases of lengths in the same Vein

      In concluding although the present prospect in the Moor is decidedly bad & although in Weardale we shall this year, from the causes stated in that Report fall considerably short of last Years Ore Raising, yet as the prospects in Teesdale have undergone a favourable change to an extent still greater than that of an unfavourable nature which has taken place in the other Districts, and, as the trials in progress in all the Districts give us reason to hope that better and more extensive Mines may speedily be opened, I do not think there is any reason to be much discouraged and the more especially as in Mining these fluctuations do & will continually take place

      I could at this moment render the Mines, even in [underlined: 'Alston Moor'] very profitable by dropping the greater part of the dead trials, which, however, I would by no means advise as that could not be done without sacrificing their future prospects; & the more especially, as there is not one Level now driving which I would not think deserving of prosecution as a Mining Speculation were we not raising a Bing of Ore in the whole concern  

      Robert Stagg


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The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467