- Last Updated: Saturday, 27 March 2021 17:48
- Written by GRAHAM BROOKS
WATERWHEEL PITS IN MINING.
Water wheels were one of the main sources of power for the majority of mines that required more power than could be supplied by either direct physical power by the miners or by the use of animals, usually horses powering a horse gin.
Waterwheels were used to power pumps by the use of pump rods to drain workings that are below the lowest ground level and so canot be drained by driving a drainage level under the workings. the power can also be used for winding up both the ore, any waste rock that can not be stored below ground in old workings and occasionally the miners themselves.
Once the ore is on the surface it usually still had to be processed to concentrate the ore and reduce the amount of waste rock that needs to be transported to the smelt mill. This processing took palce on a dressing floor originally by hand but as machinery such as stamps and buddles were developed they need power and this was supplied by waterwheels.
The smelting process required a blast of air and again the bellows were worked by waterwheels.
The original waterwheels were suported in a wooden frame but more permenant wheel pits were built out of stone or cut directly into the bed rock if suitable.
For waterwheels to work they require a constant supply of water and a very extensive of water management systems were developed. Streams and rivers had weirs constructed across them to allow water to be directed into leats, which could rum for miles at near horizontal level around the hillsides to either a reservoir or directly to the waterwheel.
DUBBY SYKE MINE
Wheel pit at Dubby Sike Mine NY 7954 3198. size of wheel pit 2.7m by 10.2m.
Inside of wheel pit showing outflow.
Remains of pump rods which were driven by the waterwheel.
In 1874 the Dubbysike Mining Co. was formed. In 1878 they started sinking the above oval shaft which was driven by the waterwheel via steel rope. By 1880 the shaft had been sunk 14 fathoms. The company ceased working in 1883.
Large wheelpit at Greenhurth used to drive a set up pump rods to a shaft higher up the fell.
The course of the pump rods up the fell. The wheel pit is in the distance.
A second wheel pit used to drive a set of stamps on the dressing floor with the outflow tunnel in front.
ST. JOHN MINE.
Wheel pit used to drive a pump in the nearby shaft.
The capped shaft.
The wheel as it remained in the 1960s.
Wheel pit used to drive a set of cornish stamps.
This wheel was used to drive a set of Cornish stamps.
Remains of stamps.
PROVIDENCE SHAFT, TEESSIDE MINE.
Providence shaft, in the fore grond, when originally sunk was kwpt clear of water by the installation of a steam engine, engine base in middle ground. However the cost of the fuel, coal and peat, was to high and a waterwheel was installed to power the pumps except in times of drought.
TYNE GREEN SYKE
This appears to be a substantial wheel pit with water supplied both from Tyne Green Syke and also a leat marked on the 1st edition OS map as Teesside Syke. The overflow can be seen in the second photo.
TYNE BOG MINE.
A waterwheel used to pump the Tyne Bog Shaft.
Capped shaft in front of the wheel pit. Water for this wheel was drawn from a wet area just south of the source of the river South Tyne.
The wheel pit at Scordale.
Remains of wheelpit at Ramshaw. Wall on right is a retaining wall for the road.
Internal waterwheel pit hand chiselled in the rock by the'German' miners during the Elizabethean period. Used for drainage.
A wheelpit on West Goldscope again cut from the bed rock and again for drainage.
Another wheelpit cut into the rock. The water entered the wheel from a leat at the height of the grass level area in the background. The shaft was in the foreground.
Bonsor East wheel pit.
Old Engine Wheel pit. Used for winding and pumping using a series of pump rods.
Diagram showing the mechanism which the Old Engine Wheel.
New Engine wheel pit.
Water wheel pit at NY30770 36000
MYERSHEAD MINE, HARTSOP.
The stone pillars carried the leat to the wheel pit. the wheel drove via a set of flat rods a pump in the shaft where the tree is.
The waterwheel was made by Cowan and Sheldon at Carlisle in 1867.
View inside the pit looking towards the shaft in the distance at the tree.