Magpie Mine, Derbyshire
Isolated and high on the Derbyshire Moors is Magpie Mine. On an evening like this there is a certain charm to the now disused mine workings. All is quiet, visitors few, but there is also a mystical feel …..one could even say a ghostly feel. Be assured that it is not always as tranquil, the weather can be hostile, after all this is the top of the White Peak area of the Peak District.
Magpie Mine was one of a great many of Derbyshires Lead Mines. Most of the buildings remaining today date back to the 1800’s but the Mine has existed since 1740 and was worked right through till 1954.
Derbyshire Lead mining goes back much further, the rich seams or veins attracted the Romans. Until the 1700’s much of the Lead Mining was on the surface where the veins were worked along what became known as Rakes. These erratic furrows scar the moors and hillsides and easily spotted. As the veins became exhausted mining changed to sinking shafts and then following the veins sideways along underground tunnels.
Magpie was only one of many in this immediate area, the close proximity of competing mines resulted in much hostility. Violent retaliation was to be expected and in 1833 Miners from Magpie set fires in underground tunnels to ‘smoke out’ miners from an adjacent mine who were thought to be poaching…..3 miners were suffocated. Several miners were charged with murder but as the culprits could not be accurately identified the murderers went unpunished.
But perhaps vengeance is sweet. The wife of one of the miners murdered, placed a curse upon Magpie Mine …known as the ‘Widow’s Curse’. True or not Magpie Mine never prospered again despite repeated efforts till time was called in 1954.
Maybe it is the ghosts of those dead miners that still haunt the site today !
(C) David Oakes 2016