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Mine Exploration Forum

Author Top slicing in Cumbria
NeilR

Joined: 22/09/2008
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Top slicing in Cumbria
Posted: 09/06/2016 09:41:20
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On a recent family holiday in the South Lakes I managed to get a look round the Roanhead and Askam area. This got me interested in the top slicing method used in these mines.
I understand that the first working was done pretty conventionally but with plenty of timber in the roof. When drawn off, subsequent slices were taken working under this now subsided roof. Having seen the size of the surface subsidence craters, ground movement must have been quite extensive and the roof must have been in a pretty poor state by the time you got to the third and fourth slice. Plus surface water would have had an easy route into the working area.
Are there any photographs or detailed articles relating to what it was like working with this method?
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derrickhand

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Joined: 16/06/2011

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Top slicing in Cumbria
Posted: 10/06/2016 07:45:18
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It seems to have been a sort of early version of Sub Level Caving, used for massive orebodies which cave readily when unsupported - like ironstone.

The procedure appears to have involved excavating a stoping flat with timber supports, then laying a timber mat on the footwall and blowing out the timbers, resulting in the hanging wall caving into the mat.

The miners would then begin development below the mat, and repeat the cycle.

All very labour intensive, requiring lots of timber, and pretty much impossible to mechanise; SLC would be a much more efficient process.

I found a reference to a project in Italy or Sardinia in the early 90s, attempting to semi-mechanise the cycle using walking chocks, but no results so presumably it didn't prove worthwhile



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NeilR

Joined: 22/09/2008
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Top slicing in Cumbria
Posted: 10/06/2016 11:32:32
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Thanks, the timber floor mat certainly makes sense. IP: 86.142.164.218
peterrivington

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Joined: 28/10/2011
Location: Dalton

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Top slicing in Cumbria
Posted: 10/06/2016 23:42:31
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There are few photographs and what there are are mainly of Millom. There are a some aural history tapes and lots of mine reports. The overburden of boulder clay sealed the surface and was pumped out while the mines were working, that is why they are mostly ponds today.
Some nice drawings from the case of Wakefield v Buccleuch:
Photograph:



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This illustrates Kennedy's account of what happens to the workings when the pumps stop. His lease of Greenhaume was not renewed because the landowner was chairman of the Furness Iron & Steel Co and wanted the ore himself.


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These drawings show the stages of removing the ore and my photos do not do them justice. Blown up big enough there are little men with picks and wheelbarrows working away.


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The case was about whether Chapman's lot was copyhold land and if so did the Duke have the right to cause subsidence. If you ask who won I reckon it was the lawyers.
The case papers are all nicely printed and can be seen at Barrow records office, BDBUC 47/3 and BDKF 621/2.


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AR

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Location: Knot far from Knotlow in the middle of the Peak District

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Top slicing in Cumbria
Posted: 11/06/2016 07:38:22
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Those are wonderful images! Slightly curious that the horse gin is set so far back from the shaft head, were they already having subsidence issues and had to site it back from the workings on more stable ground, I wonder?

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NeilR

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Top slicing in Cumbria
Posted: 11/06/2016 14:58:29
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Great illustrations. It would have been fascinating to see this system working in practice - a lost art. IP: 86.142.164.218
derrickhand

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Top slicing in Cumbria
Posted: 11/06/2016 15:02:28
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AR wrote:

Those are wonderful images! Slightly curious that the horse gin is set so far back from the shaft head, were they already having subsidence issues and had to site it back from the workings on more stable ground, I wonder?


Looking at the illustrations, that appears to be shown quite clearly if you study them in sequence.

I can see, though, why SLC superseded it - more production from a single development drift, because it works two levels from that drift, in a manner of speaking



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