The Tankerville Site
- The mine is split into two separate parcels of land and there is no public right of way between them. Please do not upset our neighbours by crossing their land.
There is currently no public right of access to this part of the site and you can only visit it in the company of a Trustee. Although the main site is just across the farmer's track, there is no right of way over this for the public.
Note that there is no public right of way to the site but there is a concessionary path open throughout the year except New Year's Day. This is the ONLY way in for the public at the moment - please avoid disturbing our neighbours by using any other access. There is no car parking on site and it is not easy to access by wheelchair at present, since there are a steep descents, but we are considering how to improve this in the future.
From the layby, follow the road into the hamlet of Tankerville and around the double bend. Pass Tankerville Lodge to your right and, about 50 yards after this, and you will see a public footpath heading off to the right to a stile (NGR SO355994) don't go over the stile but follow a lower path that heads back down the way you have come, following a wire fence to a another gate on the left this gate leads to steps heading down to the site itself. The site would have looked quite different when working – see the old map below.
NOTE THAT YOU ENTER THE SITE AT YOUR OWN RISK AND YOU
SHOULD BE AWARE THAT ANY OLD MINE SITE CAN BE DANGEROUS
Tankerville Surface Tour
- 1. Upper Reservoir and New Shaft
2. Lower Reservoir
3. Ore Bins
4. Watson’s Shaft Engine House
5. Watson’s Shaft Engine House Chimney
6. Watson’s Shaft
7. Ovenpipe Shaft
8. Count House
10. Demolished Cottages
13. Ovenpipe Shaft Engine House & Chimney
Below the western side of the Stiperstones ridge lies the small hamlet of Tankerville, with a pottery and a few houses. As traffic passes through, drivers can suddenly see a tall chimney and building which look completely out of place in a rural scene. In a way it is!
These are the remains of Tankerville Lead Mine, which was once very rich but now is a shadow of its industrial past. The hamlet owes its existence to the mine, since the area was previously agricultural and the influx of miners created a need for houses. Watsons Shaft was the deepest in the Shropshire orefield at 1,690ft and was vertical for a short distance before descending at an angle. Although it was mainly worked for lead, it also produced barytes, calcite, silver and zinc during its working life between 1865-1925.
The mine is a Scheduled Monument and was donated to the Trust in December 1996. At that time the buildings were derelict and Watsons Shaft was in a very dangerous condition, since it had collapsed at the top and was in danger of undermining the engine house. Thanks to funding from English Heritage, Shropshire County Council and South Shropshire District Council, it was possible to make the shaft safe and to carry out emergency repairs on the building. Subsequent work funded by the Conservation Areas Partnership scheme has repaired the engine houses and chimneys, as well as other features.
The site is owned by the Shropshire Mines Trust who are creating a low level interpretation scheme. It is open to the public and it is hoped to man it by volunteers a few times per year. The mine is an excellent place to visit to get an idea of what a lead mine was like or just to relax in peaceful surroundings. Unlike other large mines, there is no obvious spoil tip to identify it since most of this was removed during the Second World War to build runways for RAF Tern Hill. The engine house and chimney, however, are local landmarks and these are clearly visible from the road which runs from Snailbeach to Bog.
There is a steep path leading down to the site from the road which leads past the reservoir.
This leads to an open area which was once the dressing floors. Here there is a small metal headgear over Watsons Engine Shaft which, at 1,690ft, was the deepest shaft in the orefield. It is now flooded for most of its depth however and is blocked a short distance down. In 1995, the shaft walls at the top were reinforced with concrete rings and a cap fitted.
The obvious large building is the Watson’s Engine House, which housed a 40” pumping engine for the mine. Next to this is an octagonal chimney which served the boiler house.
Adjacent to the engine house are a set of ore bins.
The only other buildings of note are the count house (now used as a dwelling), cottages (now used as workshops) and remains of the magazine.
Ovenpipe Shaft is located in the middle of the farmyard next to Tankerville Lodge and is completely filled. Nearby are the remains of the small engine house and associated chimney that contained the original pumping and winding engine.
On the uphill side of the road, underneath the workshop, was Lewis' Shaft, now filled. What appears to be an open arched level behind the pottery is actually a potato store. A short open level on the hillside opposite to the pottery has a tight inclined drop of unknown depth. There was also a shaft and level to the left of the cottage, both of which have been filled.
New Shaft is near the road and is open with trees growing out of the top. NOTE that is very dangerous and under no circumstances should you pass beyond its surrounding fence. A concrete engine base is adjacent, possibly for a winding engine. It was descended in 1993 to a blockage at 200ft. The path to it leads across the dam of the mine reservoir.
On the hillside to the north-east, above Burgam Mine, there is the concrete base of one of the aerial ropeway piers. Further up are the foundations of the transfer station.
Guided Tours for Groups
- The top of Watsons Shaft is grilled, with a close net grid on RSJs and a timber platform set about 6 metres below. Once below the platform, the shaft is open to a rubble pile some 45 metres below. From here, a level heads out towards Ovenpipe Shaft and an ever deepening pool of cow slurry! A few metres in, a second level heads out for about 70 metres towards New Shaft.
IN 2013 examination of Watsons shaft showed that the rubble pile had disappeared and water could be seen.
The shaft wad plumbed with a lead weight which descended through water to a blockage at 92 meters. (from surface)
It is believed that the rubble was sitting on a wooden platform which gave access to the level. This has collapsed allowing the weight to descend to the next platform below (under water).
(When the shaft was explored many people had stood on the rubble pile to gain access to the level!)