North of Shrewsbury near Wem

Situated in the village of Clive, just off the B5476 Shrewsbury to Wem road. There is little evidence in the village for the presence of a copper mine, yet in places the workings come within a metre (or less!) of the surface.

Of all the north Shropshire Copper Mines, Clive seems to have been the most extensive underground. The mine is close to Grinshill and its sandstone quarries (Triassic Keuper Sandstone), and is driven through the sandstones which are partly overlaid by Waterstones.

There are a number of shafts into the workings, most are shallow and date from the early working of the mine. Due to their proximity to the road (Mine Bank) and houses, all but two of have been filled and capped.

Inside the mine there is evidence for a number of different minerals (Copper, Cobalt, Manganese and Iron) in the form of amazing coloured whorls and patterns staining the walls.


Historical Background
Historians have not been able to say with any certainty when mining first started at Clive, but it is thought that early workings followed surface outcrops of copper ore, suggestions of Roman or pre-Roman workings have not been substantiated.

The earliest known references to mines at Clive talk of adjoining "Open Cuts" in the 17th Century. As these workings continued and the holes got deeper and more unstable the only way for the mines to continue was to sink shafts and mine the copper ore at depth. During the 17th Century, mining was often a part-time activity carried on by groups of farmworkers during their winter "lay-off".


The Workings
The number of old relatively small shafts along the vein at Clive suggests that the area was divided up into a series of different mines, each probably worked by a separate group of miners. These early shafts were sunk onto the copper vein, then small passageways driven to follow it. Sandstone is relatively easy to break down with picks, hammers and chisels and the remains of the old shafts still show pick marks and their squared shape testifies to the pride and skill of the old miners. Old tools dating from the 17th Century were found in the mine during the last period of working but these have now all disappeared.

In these early workings the only means of lighting was tallow candles or grease lamps, (soot stains and remains of tallow candles can still be found in the mine) this would mean that the air in the workings would rapidly become too foul to work in. When the workings became unworkable due to lack of ventilation, unstable, or the vein was lost, then another shaft would be sunk further along the line of the vein and a new mine started.

It is often thought that early shafts (such as those at Clive) were linked underground but evidence suggests that this was not the case. As it was common for adjacent mines to be worked by different groups they would jealously guard their workings. Any connection would allow the neighbouring miners to sneak in and steal their copper! A number of these old shafts can still be seen in the roof of the currently accessible workings but they have been undercut by the later 18th century workings rather than being connected earlier.

At the start of the 18th century, attempts were made to replace the old piecemeal working methods. In 1703 Thomas Spendiloves bequeathed a copper mine at Clive to his son John. He then leased it to Roger Atcherley in 1711. There is also a reference to a Drepewood or Threapwood Mine in the area which was worked in 1710 by Thomas Oswin. This suggests that there may actually have been two separate mines working the same deposit, reflecting land in different ownerships.

A letter dated 19th January 1739 from John Spendiloves to a Mr Bresner of Droitwich supports this suggestion. In it, Spendiloves says:

"There is on Vernon's land at Clive part of a copper mine which I will help to sell. I would also like to see a mine lease that Mr John Payne has ...".

There is also a separate reference to an eminent copper prospector from Ireland who had mentioned this one yard wide vein of copper "green and gritty", containing gold, which was proposed for development by Roger Atcherley in 1711.

Spendiloves Lease
The lease of the Spendiloves copper mine specified an area one mile around Grinshill Church. This seems to indicate that there were mine workings on both Vernon's land and Spendiloves'. Since Spendiloves was offering to help sell the Vernon part, it indicates that they were originally worked separately and that Spendiloves was trying to sell both as a job lot. So Atcherley seems to have leased Spendiloves' part of the mine from 1711 and Oswin leased Vernon's part from 1710. If Spendiloves was trying to sell the mine, it indicates that Atcherley had either ceased working or his lease had expired. Since leases were commonly granted for 25 years, it could have expired in 1736 and left the mine standing idle for 3 years. Spendiloves interest in a lease held by Payne could indicate that the latter had taken over the lease of Vernon's mine from Oswin. Since he was trying to contact Payne, it suggests that Payne was not actively working his part of the mine and perhaps Spendiloves hoped to negotiate transfer of the lease so both mines could be sold as one.

The mine was probably worked on a small scale for many years until 1862, when a new venture was attempted. In September of that year, Articles were executed between William Henderson (manager of British Metal Extracting Ltd and company chemist for Alderley Edge Mining Co Ltd)) and James Thomas Harris. In these, Henderson agreed to sell to Harris all his rights and interests in or near Clive, viz 3 undivided 1/5th shares presently leased from Robert Gardner of Sansaw Hall for 21 years from 25th March 1862. It is not known who held the other two 1/5th shares of the mine but this might even have been Harris himself. Henderson also agreed to sell to Harris a free licence under the former's patent for improvements in treating certain ores and alloys.

On 7th October 1862, Robert Gardner granted a 21 year lease of the mine to James Thomas Harris, Kendal Coghill and John Coghill. The lessees undertook to pay £4 per acre every half year for the first 10 years of the lease, together with 1/15th of all copper ore raised. For the remainder of the lease, they would pay 1/12th of all copper ore raised.

As soon as Harris and the two Coghills had obtained the lease, they set about forming the Clive Copper Mining Co Ltd under the Companies Act 1862. The Memorandum of Articles & Association state that "The company shall have the right to purchase, to take on lease or tenancy, working mines of copper or other mines situate near Clive and for ... reducing, refining, melting by acids or otherwise the ores from mines and to sell the same".

Three years later in 1865, the company was offering the lease for sale at £4,000 and it was bought by the New Clive Mining CO Ltd. Most of the shareholders of the new company were from Birmingham and they spent a great deal of money in developing the mine but "did no good".

Well Shaft
In 1868, the main drawing shaft was deepened to below the lower tramming level, a depth of 183ft, and a borehole continued from its base. This then became a well that supplied water to the estate and it is still in use today (although the three-throw pump powered by an oil engine was superseded by electric pumps in the 1980's).

Up to the end of the 18th century, the "old men" had only removed the solid deposits of copper ore since they didn't have the ability to separate the copper where it was intermingled with sandstone. The 19th Century miners possessed better technology and not only re-worked the areas mined previously but also took a greater proportion of the ore out. This has left large voids called "stopes" in the upper level which have destroyed most of the earlier workings. They have also truncated the old hand made shafts, which can be seen entering at roof level.

This secondary working included the use of modern techniques such as drilling and blasting, as well as wagons and tramways to transport the ore. Remains of sleepers and powder barrels were found when the mine was re-discovered in the 1980's. Underhand stoping methods were also used, where ore was mined from below the haulage level. This was labour intensive and meant that the miners had to overcome gravity, as opposed to overhand stoping where ore was mined above and gravity used to bring it down to the haulage level.

The lower levels contain no mineralisation but there is evidence of the use of rails, tubs and blasting. It is likely that they were developed at the same time as the underhand stopes mentioned above and that ore was thrown down to the lower levels to be transported to the shaft. The upper and lower levels were connected by internal shafts called winzes but there are no remains of the ore chutes which must have been installed in these to control the loading of tubs some 25m below.

Ore Processing
To make the copper ore suitable for sale to the smelter, the miners had to remove the copper from the sandstone. Large pieces of pure copper ore could be picked out by hand but the rest had to be crushed and separated. In early years, the technology did not exist to do this but William Henderson's patent for acid-leaching almost certainly extended the life of the mine and enabled extraction of a large percentage of the 3.5% copper present in the intermingled ore.

The intermingled ore was crushed to produce pieces less than 25mm in size and placed in tanks. Dilute hydrochloric acid was then poured onto the ore and this dissolved out the hydrated copper minerals. The tanks had false bottoms covered with brushwood and straw, which allowed the hydrochloric acid to pass through and be collected.

Every two hours the acid was poured back in and the process repeated until the acid was saturated and no more copper could be dissolved. The acid was then fed into precipitating tanks where pieces of scrap iron and cuttings of tinplate were added, causing copper to be released from the solution and replaced by the iron.

The copper collected on the base of the tank as a dark brown solid, this was removed, dried and sold as a precipitate averaging 75% copper. At other mines, the remaining solution was evaporated to produce a cobalt concentrate but it is not known if this was done at Clive (although there is certainly evidence for the prescence of Cobalt in the mine).

There were 24 acid-leaching tanks in use at Clive and it is thought they may have been situated in the yard area behind the buildings near to the Well Shaft. When Clive Mine closed in 1869 the tanks were sold to Van Consols Lead & Barytes Mining Company Limited and used to process barytes at their Bryntail Mine. The latter site is now by the Clywedog Dam and visitors are able to walk around a mine trail and view the tanks in situ.


Remains Today
Following safety and stabilisation work in the early 1990's, there are 2 entrances surviving at Clive:

The Well Shaft
Inside the Well Building, this gives access to the lower workings of the mine (with the sump being used as a water supply to surrounding houses). The shaft is complete with pump rods, raising main and a ladderway. When the Club first gained access to the mine in the mid 1980's this was our only way in.

The lower workings primarily consist of a long tramming level fed with ore from the higher workings via a number of ore chutes or winzes. Despite several digs along this level we have not been able to "push" any of the potential headings - which appear to be back-filled headings.

Upper Workings
To reach the upper workings the Club constructed a Maypole (a series of scaffold tubes clamped together with an electron ladder fixed to the top), this was repeatedly extended until we could climb up it, some 25 metres to the upper workings.

From the upper workings the bases of several shafts were discovered and one, that was filled with rubbish was pushed to surface. This now forms the Rubbish shaft and has been fitted with a secure collar and lid for safety reasons.

The upper workings are the most interesting part of the Mine. The large stopes of the 19th Century workings contrasting with the truncated remains of the early hand worked levels and shafts which are visible in the walls and roof of the stopes - some of them still complete with soot stains from old candles.

The Copper vein has been worked along a fault line, which is interesting for the Slicken-sides (polished rock caused by the two sides of the fault rubbing together).

A collapse zone in the mine corresponds to the point where the workings pass under the Tarporley Siltstones, due to the proximity to the road this section has been stabilised by the County Council.

The Northern Section
This part of the mine is the most picturesque section of the mine with colourful staining on the sandstone produced by various minerals such as copper, iron, cobalt and manganese.

Towards the end of this section the copper vein is lost and the mine enters a tramming level, while the colour of the sandstone changes to a deeper red. Above the "modern" workings are some interesting narrow twisting, crawling height passageways which it is believed were trials for cobalt or manganese - the rock in this area contains "pepper and salt" rock.

The Southern Section
The southern part of the mine has been subject to a number of collapses. When the Club first entered here in the 1980's the party had to crawl over a collapse which had left a layer of asphalt as the roof - when cars went up the road you knew about it!

A small level rising towards the surface is thought to have been the 19th Century "Day Level" (the point where the miners could walk into the mine).

A winze in the floor of this area drops down to the lower tramming level, while straight ahead a dig up a sand heap in 1988 lead to Club members popping up in a children's play area - right under the swings!

Credits - Thanks to:

Sansaw Estate for allowing access to the Mine


Report: Neal Rushton

a little bat ... ImportantNote
This site is on Private Property, there is no public access.


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