By far the most important lead mine in the Lake District was at Greenside, near Patterdale. The vein was known by the mid-seventeenth century, but it was only thoroughly developed after 1822, when the Greenside Mining Company was formed.
A series of ever deeper, and longer, levels were driven to the vein, and from the lowest of these, Lucy Tongue Level, a deep underground shaft was sunk. Apart from waterwheels, power came from water-pressure engines, which were fed by an impressive water management scheme. In the 1890s, turbines were used to generate electricity to drive winding engines, pumps and an electric locomotive for haulage in the level.
The mine built its own smelt mill and silver refinery in 1827. It had a long flue to take the fumes to a chimney high on the slopes of Raise. The mill closed during 1917, after which the ore was sent away for smelting.
The mine reached a depth of 237 fathoms (433 metres) below Lucy Tongue Level by the mid 1950s, but the ore ran out at that depth. It was decided to work the remaining reserves with the intention of closing in 1959, but the last ore was removed in April 1961. By that time the mine had a recorded output of 150,000 tons of lead and 1,600,000 ounces of silver from its single vein.Return to previous page