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Roman Gravels Mine

Mining History Feature

Roman Gravels Mine
Mining History Feature

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Roman Gravels open cut


Roman Gravels lead mine was supposed to have been worked by the Roman invaders before 400 AD, although the mine was initially called Shelfield Gravels.

There are certainly some workings on the mine site of great antiquity, including the "open cuts" on the hillsides (left). These 'hushes' are artificial valleys dug or washed away by ancient miners to expose the veins of galena ore.

Remains of Old shaft pumping and windng engine houses on the hillside above the road in 1985.

In the mid-nineteenth century Roman pottery and tools were found in workings 16m below the surface and the mine became known as Roman Gravels.

A steam pumping engine was installed in the 1780s at Old Shaft, part of the engine house still survives. NGR SO 3337 9995.

The Roman Gravels mine achieved peak output in the 1870s when it employed 200 men and had an output second only to Snailbeach. The mine agent (Arthur Waters) installed a compressor at Old Shaft in 1878 to power rock drills in the rich veins along the 65 fathom level - one of the earliest such installations.

Roman Gravels spoil heaps (1985)

All the dressing plant for the mine was on the west side of the Bishops Castle road and until they were removed in the 1990s, there were extensive white spoil heaps of calcite, baryte and quartz here.


National Grid Reference: SJ 3329 0030


Key Dates:

Early names for the mine: Shelfield Gravels or 'Gravels' Mine.
c1780s: John Lawrence and partners lease the sett from the Landlords - the More family..
1788: John Lawrence orders a 24" Bolton and Watt pumping engine for Old Shaft.
1820s: John Lawrence abandons Roman Gravels.
1825: The partnership of Lewis and Phillips secure the lease for Roman Gravels mine along with the nearby Grit sett.
1848: Lewis and Phillips abandon the mine.
1850s: The partnership working Pennerley and Ovenpipe (later known as Tankerville) mines attempt to work Roman Gravels, but beaten by pumping costs.
1860s: New owners (a private company) deepen the mine and discover rich lead deposits 65 fathoms below adit. They install a 40" Cornish pumping engine and 15" winding engine at Old Shaft.
1870: To raise funds for new developments a public company Roman Gravels Company Ltd formed, with Arthur Waters as their Agent. Sink New South Engine Shaft, 80 fathoms below adit. NGR SO 3345 9982
1870s: Miners break into 'old workings' containing Roman tools and pottery, 16m (50ft) below the surface.
1875: Old Shaft pumping engine re-fitted with plunger pumps.
1877: A 60" Cornish engine by Harveys of Hayle installed at New South Engine Shaft. Old Shaft engine changed to winding only. Arthur Waters experiments with compressed air rock drills - very successful.
1878: Winding engine installed at New South Engine Shaft, Old Shaft reduced to man access only and a compressor installed near the shaft to drive underground rock drills.
1894: Mining stops.
1895: Roman Gravels Company Ltd. liquidated.


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