Brandlehowe Mine near Brandlehow Park, Derwentwater, Borrowdale

Record ID:  20142 / MNA119118
Record type:  Monument
Protected Status: World Heritage Site
NT Property:  Borrowdale; North
Civil Parish:  Borrowdale; Allerdale; Cumbria
Grid Reference:  NY 250 195
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Brandlehowe Lead Mine is situated on the fell side near to Skelgill Bank.

Identification Images (0)

Most Recent Monitoring

None Recorded

Monument Types

  • LEAD MINE (Mid 16th C to Late 19th C - 1540 AD to 1891 AD)


The most interesting (of a number of important lead mines) is Brandlehow which has approximately 700 feet of horizontal passages open. A large waterwheel, illustrated in Postlethwaite's Mines and mining in the Lake District, was situated about 100 yards east of the road, on the slope to the Lake, past Manesty Wood. A washing tank is still visible lower down the slope, and there are traces of the headrace and wheel mounting. The mine was worked in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Marshall, J.D. and Davies-Shiel, Michael. 1977, page 240).

A lead mine situated on the southwest shore of Derwent water at Brandlehow Bay (NY250196). Although it was reasonably rich, operations were plagued by a constant influx of water that worsened with depth, reaching a maximum flow of about 150 gallons per minutes. As most of the pumping was by steam engine, there being insufficient local water to drive a large wheel, the cost of fuel was a heavy drain on profits. In most mines the water originates at the immediate surface and gains entry through fissures in the rock or via old workings, but Brandlehow was different: some the water showed a dissolved solids content, weight for weight, of 13 parts per 1,000 sodium chloride (common salt) and 10 parts per 1,000 calcium chloride. Mining ceased in 1891.

Mining Details: The vein worked was the Brandlehow Lode. Near Coate's Shafts this splits into two parts and both cross Skelgill Bank in an approximately NW direction. The northern branch was worked at the Old Brandley Mine (24408*0) and the southern at some ancient pit diggings (see Minersputt Adams, J. 1988. pgs 68). This latter branch is believed to emerge as the Stoneycroft Lode on W side of the Newlands Valley. At Brandlehow Mine the vein courses approximately 25 degree west of north, is 2 feet to 6 feet wide and heads to the east at about 1 fathom in 3. The Filling was argentiferous galena (7 ozs silver per ton of lead metal), blende and a little cerussite in a matrix of quartz with small quantity of baryte. The ore distribution was patchy and whilst in some places it was found in ribs up to 2 feet thick, in many other the vein was poor and barren. A small amount of gold was found but not a commercially recoverable quantity.

History: This is undoubtedly a very old mine as some of the shallow workings at the north end were cut in pre-gunpowder days, but absence of records precludes an account of this period. In 1819 the mine was acquired by John Tebay of Whitehaven who commenced operations at the S end by driving a westerly cross cut adit level from the edge of the lake. On intersecting the vein, the level (later known as the Salt Level) was driven north for 100 fathoms and at a number of places ore was discovered and stoped out to the surface. A deposit of ore was subsequently found south of the cross cut and a shaft sunk with levels are 10 and 20 fathoms. Drainage was by means of pumps powered by a 24 ft water wheel. By 1836 Tebay had lost œ2,600 on its mining ventures, mainly attributable to Brandlehow, and shortly afterwards the mine was abandoned. IN 1847 the lease was taken by the Keswick Mining Company (Messrs Langton, Richardson and Merryweather) who also worked Old Brandley (24408*0), Barrow, Stoneycroft, Thornthwaite and the ill-fated Cobalt Mine. The company took the Tebay shaft to 30 fathoms, but because the water wheel was no longer able to cope with the deluge of water had it replaced by a 30 hp steam engine driving 9 in force pumps. The water wheel was thereafter used to drive a saw mill and some crushing equipment. In the early 1850's the 20 fathom level north hit a rich deposit of ore and here, it was decided, the future of the mine lay. Accordingly the New Engine Shaft was sunk and by 1853 was down 30 fathoms. At this point the engine was transferred to the new shaft and sinking continued. By 1855 this was down to 40 fathoms but the company found the work costly, not only was the ground particularly hard, but additionally large quantities of salt water were pouring from 30 and 40 fathom levels simultaneously being driven forward. Fortunately perseverance was rewarded for access was gained to some good deposits and for the next few years the mine yielded approximately 250 tons of ore per annum. By 1860 the Keswick Mining Company had withdrawn from all its other mining ventures and was now in the hands of a new set of partners (Charles Dear and Associates), but the Brandlehow mine continued to be worked for another three years, producing 290 tons per annum. The year 1863 saw operations suspended as a result of a row between directors and shareholders: it would appear that a new engine was required and, to the shareholders who had already lost money in the company's other ventures, this new call for capital was asking too much. By 1964 the mine had filled with water, and in 1865 was abandoned. In 1870 Messrs H.K> Spark and B. Plummer, two gentlemen with interests in many of the Derwent mines, took a lease on Brandlehow, but in this as in all their other mining ventures were remarkably unsuccessful. In 1883 the mine was acquired by the Brandley Mining Company, an organisation run by Henry Burrow Vercoe, a mining engineer from Portin scale (see also Yewthwaite and Barrow). Operations got off to a flying start and by 1885 some 265 tons of orc had been raised from the 40, 50 and 60 fathom levels. In 1886, 113 tons of ores was raised, but before the year's end all work ceased and the mine was allowed to flood. Vercoe transferred his lease to a new set of partners (Messrs Jennings, White and Miller) and the year of 1887 was spent in pumping out water and putting the workings in order. A 350 hp engine was erected in 1888 to cope with the increasing quantity of water for by now the mine was 70 fathoms downs. Over the next three years a total of 250 tons of ore was raised but this was a poor amount which could hardly have covered the cost of the engine and its heavy fuel consumption. Early in 1891 the mine was abandoned (Adams, J. 1988).


  • --- SZI10697 - Monograph: J Postelthwaite. 1913. Mines and Mining in the English Lakes District. 3.

  • --- SZI10810 - Document: E Rice, P J Thorne. 1989. July survey Brandlehow drainage adit "salt level".

  • --- SZI2299 - Monograph: B Young, D Millward. 1984. N.E.R.C..

  • --- SZI3184 - Collection: HMSO. 1928. Catalogue of Plans of Abandoned Mines. 1.

  • --- SZI3552 - Article in serial: Anon. 1962. C.G.S Proc no 1.

  • --- SZI3840 - Unpublished document: J C Ward. 1876. The geology of the northern part of the English Lake District, Mem. Geol. Surv. G.B..

  • --- SZI5312 - Photocopy: J Adams. 1988. Mines of the Lake District Fells.

  • --- SZI5527 - Article in serial: T Eastwood. 1959. The future of non ferrus mining in Great Britain and Ireland: Inst. Min. Metall. Lon.

  • --- SZI6312 - Article in serial: Anon. 1990. C.A.T News No 28, Dec.

  • --- SZI7523 - Monograph: Angus Wainwright. 1964. The North Western fells.

  • --- SZI8168 - Document: Anon. 1980. Analysis of outflow from the salt level.

  • --- SZI8400 - Monograph: J D Marshall, M Davies Shiel. 1977. Industrial Archaeology of the Lake Countries.

  • --- SZI8683 - Monograph: T Eastwood. 1921. Lead and Zinc ores of the Lake District, Mem. Geol. Surv. Spec. Rep. Mineral Resources G.B..


Other Statuses and References

  • Common Land
  • Environmentally Sensitive Area
  • National Park

Associated Events

None Recorded

Associated Finds

None Recorded

Related Records

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