LandScope Engineering has embarked on a multi-discipline survey exercise in association with the Shropshire Mines Trust. Snailbeach Mine is within a few miles of LandScope Engineering headquarters in Shropshire and was, at its peak, amongst the most productive mines in the Europe (Fred Brook & Martin Allbutt_The Shropshire Lead Mines_1973). For many decades inactive, there is now an established team who maintain, develop and show visitors around the extensive surface buildings and within some of the mine workings themselves. LandScope personnel were able to access the mine through Perkins Level and the workings within; referred to locally as ‘The Cathedral’, on account of the rising spire like extraction of rock and minerals, or stope. The stope reportedly rises to within a few metres of the surface and it is possible to see day light from the ventilation shaft directly above.
The aim of the project is to produce a 3D model of The Cathedral using a Faro laser scanner and tie in with geophysical surveys on the surface to robustly establish the depth of cover above The Cathedral. There are earth workings on the surface to prevent tractors and other heavy machinery driving over the top and some anecdotal evidence from older locals puts the depth of cover at ‘a few feet’. LandScope has employed the use of microgravity, resistivity and low frequency ground penetrating radar to map the depth and make-up of the subsurface above The Cathedral. A topographical surface model was created and an Ordnance datum traversed down through woodlands and into the mine for registration of laser scan setups.
Perkins Level is over 50 vertical metres below the surface working on Lordshill above and having spent a day underground, survey personnel had a first-hand taste of what it must have been like to work there full time but can only imagine how tough it must have been to mine the lead, zinc, fluorspar and barites (white material on the left above person in photo). Cramped, dark, very wet and cold conditions made it difficult to survey, let alone mine and all were very happy to see day light at the end of the survey! A fascinating place on a mind boggling scale (workings extend well over 250m below sea level, with Perkins level at 278m above ODN), anyone one interested in the mine can find lots more information at: http://shropshiremines.org.uk/snailbeach/sbinfo.htm and it is well worth a visit.
Many thanks to Andrew Wood from the Shropshire Mines Trust for taking us into the mine and being a very useful survey assistant! And to Ian Cooper for the use of his photo.