Apes Tor Level (Copper Mine) north end of Ecton Hill, Hamps & Manifold Valleys

Record ID:  64469 / MNA164320
Record type:  Monument
Protected Status: Scheduled Monument
NT Property:  Hamps and Manifold Valleys; Midlands
Civil Parish:  Alstonefield; Staffordshire Moorlands; Staffordshire
Grid Reference:  SK 1000 5864
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Summary

This record is for the extant mining remains at Apes Tor Level, which was part of the larger copper mining complex of Ecton Hill (designated as a Scheduled Monument in 2004). The remains at Apes Tor include an ore-unloading chamber with entrance, a blocked water-outlet level and tail goit, a large winding shaft top (blocked at chamber floor level), a dressing floor and a gin circle platform. A gated entrance with modern breeze-block walling to the sides, with outer drystone facing, leads to the rock-cut, ore-unloading chamber with a rectangular shaft (c.3-4m broad and 2m wide) in the roof going to the surface above.

Identification Images (2)

Apes Tor Level (Copper Mine) north end of Ecton Hill, Hamps & Manifold Valleys (Jan 2019) © National TrustApes Tor Level (Copper Mine) north end of Ecton Hill, Hamps & Manifold Valleys (Jan 2019) © National Trust
Apes Tor Level (Copper Mine) north end of Ecton Hill, Hamps & Manifold Valleys (Jan 2019) © National TrustApes Tor Level (Copper Mine) north end of Ecton Hill, Hamps & Manifold Valleys (Jan 2019) © National Trust

Monument Types

  • COPPER MINE (Mid 16th C to Late 19th C - 1540 AD to 1891 AD)
  • ADIT (Mid 16th C to Late 19th C - 1540 AD to 1891 AD)
  • WINDING CIRCLE (Mid 16th C to Late 19th C - 1540 AD to 1891 AD)
  • DRESSING FLOOR (Mid 16th C to Late 19th C - 1540 AD to 1891 AD)

Description

(1) This record is for the mining remains at Apes Tor Level, which was part of the larger copper mining complex of Ecton Hill. The remains at Apes Tor Level include an ore-unloading chamber with entrance, a blocked water-outlet level and tail goit, a large shaft top (blocked at chamber floor level), a dressing floor and a gin circle platform. Other documented features, such as the entrance to an important water inlet level to the heart of the mine, are no longer visible.

A gated entrance with modern breeze-block walling to the sides, with outer drystone facing, leads to the rock-cut, ore-unloading chamber with a rectangular shaft (c.3-4m broad and 2m wide) in the roof going to the surface above. The shaft also once descended into the floor of the chamber by about 62m to a boat level, which led from the main Ecton Pipe 185m to the south-west at Deep Ecton Mine. The shaft was capped by concrete at the level of the floor of the chamber in the 1960s. The boat level was used to transport ore and waste rock from the pipe, which was hauled to the surface up the shaft by a gin engine at the top of this (Barnatt, 2002). Poorer grade ores and waste stone may have been taken to the shaft top, while water brought to the surface in barrels may well have been 'unloaded' in the chamber and tipped into a channel going to the river. High grade ores may also have been unloaded here for transport round the hill at river level to the lower dressing floors at the base of the hill on its western side. A short distance below the current floor level there was also a passage that led into an upper level into the mine which took water to the pumps in Deep Ecton Mine.

The exterior wall at the entrance of the chamber is up to 3m high, and is a modern creation, built of breeze-blocks with outer stone drystone facing, made to narrow the original opening here and to fit a gate. The interior rock-cut walls of the chamber have two gunpowder shot holes and evidence of pickwork. Within the north-western wall of the chamber there is a rock-cut opening which is blocked by a drystone wall. This led outside to a drain which took the water, emptied from the boat level and Ecton Pipe via the shaft, into the River Manifold. The drain can still be traced outside. The exterior walled-up entrance of the short tunnel from the chamber to here is up to 2m high and 1m wide. The rock-cut channel leading towards the river is c.1m wide. It is blocked by the road and at the point the channel met the river there is a bulge in the retaining wall at the river bank, suggesting where the exit of the drain has been blocked.

The small area at the surface (c.17m long and 15m wide) above the shaft up from the chamber is flat-topped, and is at the site of a gin engine and unloading area for the ore and stone from the mine. It is defined to the south by a rock face cut into the outcrop, 4-5m high, and on other sides by the edge of the outcrop below that the chamber was cut into. In part it is truncated by later quarrying. One the western part of the platform there is enough space for the gin circle that was used to winch ore, stone and water from the boat level below. The wall of the outcrop to the south is curved, reflecting the shape and size of the area that needed to be cut here for the gin engine. No evidence of a horse walk or central mound for the gin circle is visible today. The gin circle is marked on the 1809 and 1818 maps of the lead mining on Ecton Hill (Potter, 1809; Staley 1818). On the 1818 map it is annotated "Apes Tor Engine". To the east there is a possible small building platform defined by rock-cut walls to the south and east and by wall footings to the west. The building that possibly stood at this site is not marked on any available map of the area.

To the east of the gin platform, at a lower level, there is a large flat area well above river level. This has a steep outcrop face to the north, with a lime kiln (NTSMR 64470) built into this near the east end. To the south there is a high quarry face cut into the outcrop. This area may well be a working area where waste stone from the mine and possibly from the adjacent quarries, was processed and then fed into the lime kiln. Ore may also have been dressed here, but it seems equally or more likely that this was unloaded at the shaft top and taken via a trackway [NTSMR 64473] to the main dressings floors on the west side of the hill (Barnatt, 2002).

Apes Tor Level was created in the early 1760s (possibly started slightly earlier) at the point on the River Manifold closest to Ecton Pipe as second point of entry to the rich deposits, to supplement Deep Ecton Level on the west side of the hill, which was where the main dressing floors were sited (Barnatt, 2002). Production was becoming so high that this earlier point of entry presumably could not cope with the amounts of ore, waste stone and water that needed to be removed. Whiel most of not all of the ore dressing continued on the western side of the hill, with high grade ores brought out of the level, and poorer grade ores taken up a shaft from the level to upper dressing floors, additional ore was brought up that Apes Tor shaft. As the site here is so restricted, it seems likely that little ore dressing would be done here; a track [NTSMR 64473] exists leading from the gin circle platform (but truncated by later quarrying) to the upper dressing floor. Waste stone hauled up the shaft was used to supply the lime kiln [NTSMR 64470]. Excess water brought up the shaft was let into the river.

One of the great advantages of Ecton was that it did not suffer from the same problems of drainage as many other mines in the Peak District, which meant that the mines could be worked at great depth for comparatively little investment; eventually the workings extended for about 300m below river level. Deep Ecton pipe had four main access/drainage levels constructed in the 18th and early 19th century: Deep Ecton Level, Apes Tor Upper and Lower Levels [NTSMR 64469] and Salts Level (Barnatt 2002; Ford and Rieuwerts 2000; Robey and Porter 1972; Porter and Robey 2000). A level was created leading from the base of the Apes Tor Shaft to be used as a canal to transport ore and waste rock. In constrast, the Upper Level at Apes Tor was later driven to take river water into the mine to operate an underground pump (installed in 1783) bringing water from workings below, up an underground shaft adjacent to Deep Ecton Shaft. The original pump was of 'flopjack' type, but this was replaced by a large water-wheel in 1823. Both the water from deep in the mine and that oprating the pumps was drained to the surface along Deep Ecton Level, which was also the main haulage level for ore to be brought to surface. Salt's Level, which is the only 19th century new drivage, was solely a transportation level.

The mines on the northern part of Ecton Hill were owned by the Duke of Devonshire, who is known to have worked the mines from 1760 to 1825, in which time the opertaion expanded. The main mine here was Deep Ecton Mine and this worked the main Ecton Pipe (and there were further rich workings further south which are irrelevant to Apes Tor and are not discussed here). After a period from 1723 onwards when lessees developed Deep Ecton, the Dukes are known to have has the mines worked 'in-house' from 1760 to 1825, with great profits made in the 1760s to 1780s. The Dukes integrated the mining operation, building for example large dressing floors and lead smelting works on the western side of Ecton Hill, and developing an infrastructure which included an improved road network to take copper ores for smelting at their works at Whiston near Cheadle and bring coal for both smelters from their own coal mines.

By 1825 the mines had become unproductive, the rich deposits having been mostly worked oyt by the 1790s. From this time until 1890, when mining on Ecton Hill ceased, the mines were worked by speculative companies, most of which proved unprofitable. The last company to mine Ecton Hill shut in 1891. Stone from the dressing floors to the west of Deep Ecton Mine was used as ballast in the building of the Leek and Manifold Light Railway [NTSMR 64051], opened in 1904 and closed in 1934 (Robey and Porter 1972; Porter and Robey, 2000). A creamery served by the railway was built on the lower dressing floor site (Ullathorne, 2006 - SNA67890).

(2) Apes Tor Level is part of the former complex of copper mines located at Ecton Hill. The mines are a Scheduled Monument (designated 08-Mar-2004) and are bounded on the west by the River Manifold and on the east by a wide shallow valley containing two streams. The Ecton Hill mining remains lie within four separate areas of protection at present.

There are about 70 mine workings scattered over Ecton Hill (not all of which is located on NT land). The workings include 40-50 vertical shafts, some over 90m deep, others shallow or grassed over. The chief Ecton mines were: Deep Shaft, Clayton, Dutchman, Bag Mine, Chadwick and Waterbank. In addition there were the associated sites of the Ecton Hill smelting works and dressing floors on the west side of the hill.

See Historic England's full scheduling description for further details - NHLE 1021175.

(3) The small copper mine shaft at Apes Tor is located in a cliff face left from quarrying. It is marked as an adit on the OS 1:10000 map SK15NW and on the OS 1:2500 plan SK 0858 0958. This is a misnomer as an adit is a horizontal tunnel into a mine (Ford and Rieuwerst 1983, 149). The feature here is a large, almost square aperture ca:3m wide by 4m high leading into a cavern of similar size with an earthen floor and a vertical shaft leading upwards in the roof, through which daylight can be seen.

The shaft now water filled to river level, is 400ft deep and at one time was the main winding shaft for Deep Ecton Copper mine, the shaft was capped by reinforced concrete by the National Trust for safety reasons.

At the top of the shaft is the site of an horse Gin (horse driven winding gear). There is also a climbing shaft adjacent to the winding shaft, now either capped, or filled in.

An adit was also driven from within the shaft at road level into Deep Ecton Mine to convey water from the River Manifold, into the mine workings to drive an underground water engine. The entrance to this adit has been discretely blocked and is difficult to discern (SZE3253).

References

  • SNA66471 - Scheduling record: Historic England. National Heritage List of England. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1021175.

  • SNA67036 - Report: Martin Milner (Derbyshire Caving Association). 2005. A Cave and Mine Conservation Audit for the Manifold and Hamps Valleys.

  • SNA67890 - Report: Alice Ullathorne (Peak District National Park). 2006. National Trust South Peak Estate Survey: Area 1 - Vol 3 (Site Details and Management Recommendations). p.167-169 (Illustration 19).

  • SNA67895 - Article in monograph: Barnatt, J. (Peak District National Park). 2002. The Development of Deep Ecton Mine, Staffordshire, 1723-1760. Mining History 15.1, 10-23.

  • SZE2177 - Document: Frank Oulsnam. 1992. Information for Archaeological Survey Update, of South Peak Estate.

  • SZE2363 - Map: Ordnance Survey. 1985. Apes Tor, South Peak Estate. 2500.

  • SZE3253 - Unpublished document: Beamish, H. & Smith, L. (National Trust). 1985. National Trust Archaeological Survey: The South Peak Estate. p.112.

  • SZE4849 - Collection: National Trust. The National Trust Archaeological Survey Sites and Monuments Record Data Prinouts - Apes Tor, South .

  • SZE7753 - Collection: National Trust. The National Trust Sites and Monuments Record Data Input Forms - Apes Tor, South Peak Estate.

Designations

Other Statuses and References

  • HER/SMR Reference (External): 364 Staffordshire SMR
  • National Park
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest (Geological)

Associated Events

  • ENA8550 - Heritage Assessment, Cave and Mine Conservation Audit of the Manifold and Hamps Valleys
  • ENA8557 - Field Survey, South Peak Estate Survey: Wetton Hill, Ossoms Hill, Grindon Moor and Apes Tor, Hamps and Manifold Valleys

Associated Finds

None Recorded

Related Records

  • Related to: Lime Kiln at Apes Tor Level, Ecton Hill, Hamps & Manifold Valleys (Monument) - 64470 / MNA164322
  • Related to: Terraced Trackway at Apes Tor Level, Ecton Hill Hamps & Manifold Valleys (Monument) - 64473 / MNA164364