Brewery Shaft, Nenthead, Cumbria
The Brewery Shaft is a 3.6m diameter concrete lined shaft which goes down to the Nent Force Level and Rampgill Deep Level. From the surface it is 100m deep and from the side access on Rampgill Horse Level it is 78m deep. Originally the shaft was know as the Deep Sump, and its name changed to the current one after the London Lead Company purchased the land that it was located on from the Alston Brewery Company.
The shaft originally was used for access to the Nent Force Level and for driving the Rampgill Deep Level (also known as the Admiralty Low Level). When the Vieille Montagne Zinc Company acquired the Nenthead Mine leases from the Nenthead and Tynedale Company the shaft ended up being used to create compressed air for driving drilling and winching machinery, pumping and ventilation. Part of the water was also used to generate electricity. At the bottom there are compressors, generators, air receivers and many artifacts.
The compressed air and electricity was generated by using water power, the whole scheme being introduced by the Belgium Vieille Montagne Zinc Company in the early 1900's. The two water reservoirs in the Nent Valley (Perry's and Handsome Mea, also known as Smallcleugh) along with a third one near Coalcleugh provided the water which travelled in large diameter pipes to the Brewery Shaft top. Here the water travelled up a tower 27m high, and then it dropped down the shaft. The purpose of the tower was to introduce air into the water stream before it continued down the pipes to the shaft bottom. The water travelled in two 23cm pipes down to the bottom of the shaft into a air receiver. The air receiver separated the air / water mixture and created the compression of the air. The water out flow from the receiver returned up the shaft in a 30cm pipe into a collection tank located on the Rampgill Horse Level. From the tank it returned via a 23cm pipe back down the shaft driving a 102cm diameter pelton turbine which in turn via gear boxes drove two compressors.
There is also a 10cm water feed pipe from the surface collection tank which was used to drive a twin pelton wheel electricity generator. The power output was 8KW at 230VAC and the electricity was used to power the company offices and reportedly also some street lighting in Nenthead. The waste water from the generator and pelton compressors was fed into the Nent Force Level to drain away in Alston some 5 miles away.
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