Rock Mine is situated near Minsterley to the south of Shrewsbury, it was a Lead and Baryte mine worked in several periods with abandonment dates of 1908, 1918, and 1945. The site consisted of: 3 shafts (1 open still), an old level (collapsed), tips and possible winding engine house.
The mine was also known as Rockhouse or Leeds Rock House or South Bog and was in the ownership of the Shropshire Lead Mines Ltd , Minsterley towards the end of it's life.
The length of operation extended from the 1850’s to 1945, with many periods when it was idle or just the tips were being worked.
The Site Today
The site was last surveyed in detail by the Club in 1978. Then 2 of the shafts were blocked and 1 was open to water at 70m (220ft.). In a 2008 visit, following removal of the trees as part of Natural Englands "Back to Purple" project, nothing much seems to have changed at the mine, apart from the sites of the 2 blocked shafts being more visible (the adits and dressing floor area are unaffected by the "Back to Purple" scheme).
In 1978, when the open shaft was descended and a deep stope discovered 50ft down, with levels off in both directions along the vein at the bottom of the shaft. A length of rising main stuck up from the shaft bottom.
The site was re-visited and surveys updated in 1994, then in 1998, six club members lead by Ben Shaw undertook to explore the still open shaft on a very wet January day - using SRT rather than electron ladders as used on the earlier 1978 trip. It was hoped to gain access to the levels, previously un-explored.
The top of the shaft consists of loose, weathered rock coning into a square shaft about 3 metres across. This is surrounded by a post and wire fence.
Ben had made a visit to the shaft in December 1997 during which he had successfully descended it after bolting a good Y-hang rebelay in the competent rock just over the lip of the shaft. On this occasion he did not make any exploration of the levels or stope. He was keen that a proper, supported exploration and survey of the accessible mine should take place.
Rigging the Shaft
Ben initially rigged and descended the shaft, only to reappear a little later to let us know that the rope was 3 metres too short for a 60+ metre pitch. Fortunately it was the bottom bit that was missing!
Alan Robinson swapped places with Ben and re-rigged the pitch with a slightly longer rope. By this time other club members had built themselves a cosy shelter from the driving rain, so Ben was volunteered to descend again!
It was also noted on his previous visit that communication from the shaft to surface was almost impossible, so we decided to rig a ‘leaky’ feed radio set up. This worked quite well with the base station at the surface and Ben and Alan having mobile hand held (but not dropped!) units whilst on the rope.
The shaft is very impressive and allows a free hanging descent of over 60 metres to a partially backfilled/flooded bottom. It is uncertain as to whether this is merely a sump or if the shaft continues deeper. The accompanying survey gives some idea of the short levels we could access and the visible remains.
Published information on the mine is somewhat limited and often reiterated from earlier accounts or bulletins. It is hoped to do a bit more background research in the near future.
However, we do know that there were published production returns for both lead and barytes, although these figures were often included with neighbouring mines.
If anybody has any further background on the site, the Club would be interested to know more! Follow-ups can be e-mailed to the Club at the address on the home page.
Report: Alan Robinson
Sketches & Picture: Ben Shaw and Alan Robinson
Bats are known to live in the area, and some were found in the workings examined. DO NOT disturb them, particularly during the hibernation season.
Bad Air - in the lower levels, mainly Oxygen deficiency has been recorded in this shaft. Explosive gases are also possible. So take care if visiting the site.