Mine exploration, photographs and mining history for mine explorers, industrial archaeologists, researchers and historians Mine explorer and mining history videos on YouTube Connect with other mine explorers on Facebook
Tip: do not include 'mine' or 'quarry', search by name e.g. 'cwmorthin', use 'Sounds like search' if unsure of spelling

Advanced Search
'Sounds like search'
Quick a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
Tip: narrow down your search by typing more than one word and selecting 'Search for all words' or 'Exact search'

Search for any word
Search for all words
Exact search
Tip: narrow down your search by typing more than one word and selecting 'Search for all words' or 'Exact search'

Search for any word
Search for all words
Exact search

Mine Exploration Forum

Jump to page << < 1 2 3 > >>
Author The first use of gunpowder in mining
geoff

Avatar of geoff

Joined: 18/04/2008
Location: Pendeen, Cornwall

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 06/07/2009 17:11:04
Reply |  Quote
I made mention of this elsewhere, but for those of you who have a natural fear of words like 'Europe' and 'Museum' I thought this was important enough to warrant starting a new thread.

Search for the first use of gunpowder in mining and you will almost certainly come up with a date of 1627 at a place called Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia (and formerly within the Kingdom of Hungary).

This date can be pushed back to 1617 to copper mines at Le Thillot, Vosges, France (at the time part of an independent Duchy of Lorraine). There is a wealth of archaeological evidence backed up by detailed and compelling archive evidence of very significant gunpowder usage. This isn't a particularly new dicovery having been presented in a paper by Francis PIERRE in 1993, Mines de Le Thillot (Vosges) Apparition et évolution des techniques de percement à la poudre noire, the fact it's in French has probably led to it not being widely known.

The claim made by the French in their museum is that this is the first known use of explosives in mining in Europe, unless anyone knows otherwise surely this is the first in the World

Anyway shock horror... wikipedia needs to be changed Shocked
IP: 83.104.170.133 Edited: 06/07/2009 17:13:27 by geoff
carnkie

Avatar of carnkie

Joined: 07/09/2007
Location: camborne, cornwall

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 06/07/2009 21:09:50
Reply |  Quote
Allen Buckley takes the 'official' version. Hungary-Germany-north of England. Then to the lead mines of the Mendips before Cornwall in 1689. He does tho' mention failed attempts in the silver mines of Mexico in the 16th century.

Don't tell me both Wiki and AB are wrong. Double Shocked Shocked

--

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.
IP: 79.74.178.212
Bob Pit

Avatar of Bob Pit

Joined: 05/12/2007
Location: Devon

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 07/07/2009 00:17:22
Reply |  Quote
Although Buckley did not reveal a source for his version of how gunpowder arrived in Cornish mines it is very similar to Earl's account in his book, Cornish Explosives [1978], ie that Prince Rupert brought continental miners with explosives expertise to Ecton in Derbyshire, and from there it spread to Mendip and west to Cornwall. Earl is also a little vague about how he arrived at some of this information but an even earlier, almost identical version of this story was published by John Taylor on 1799 (Philosophical Magazine). Unfortunately Taylor did not reveil his sources either. I'd be interested to hear if anyone can shine any light on the origins of this version of events and whether its based on facts or supposition.

--

Can't understand 'ow I got the sack boay, I burnt twice s'much coal as they other stokers
IP: 80.235.129.164 Edited: 07/07/2009 00:18:17 by Bob Pit
AR

Avatar of AR

Joined: 07/11/2007
Location: Knot far from Knotlow in the middle of the Peak District

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 07/07/2009 08:30:03
Reply |  Quote
Try this article from Mining History: [web link]

This confirms the early use of gunpowder at Ecton (which is in Staffordshire, not Derbyshire) and dates it back to the 1660s and 1670s. The original source of the story about German miners (or Dutchmen, as they were referred to) came from Hooson which was published c.1747.

--

I think I'll have the sheep first, then I'll have the abbot
IP: 194.159.145.70
royfellows

Avatar of royfellows

Joined: 13/06/2007
Location: Great Wyrley near Walsall

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 07/07/2009 09:21:34
Reply |  Quote
This may be of some interest, it is an excerpt from my yet to be published book, "The Lost Mine of Talybont"

The Talybont level itself was a remarkable achievement, being driven a distance of 200 fathoms or 1200 feet in four years; this equals about 6 feet a week. Although it is generally accepted that gunpowder was first introduced into mining about 1690, the real possibility that Thomas Bushell was using powder cannot be overlooked.
Local mining historian Simon Hughes believes this is so and references the fact that Bushell was using some German miners and that blasting with powder originated in Saxony. There was a supply of powder available locally at Aberystwyth Castle; in fact a lot more than was necessary for strictly military use. When the castle was captured during the civil war it was blown up by the parliamentarian forces, indicating a large stock of powder already there rather than the parliamentarian forces having to bring it in from afar for the purpose. Otherwise they would have very likely just set fire to the place.
Simon also draws attention to a later reference to the miner’s tools, where borers are mentioned. These could have been used for lime setting, but could also have been used to bore shot holes. If this is a correct interpretation, Bushell’s Level would be the first level to be driven in the country using gunpowder.
To be precise, the very first recorded use of gunpowder in mining was in Slovakia in 1627, the first record of the use in England was in the Ecton copper mines, Staffordshire. A statement “Chemical Essays” written by Bishop R. Watson in 1781 mentions Prince Rupert bringing over German miners to work the Ecton Copper mines with gunpowder, this is further substantiated by writings in 1686 by a Dr Robert Plot mentioning “rocks being broken with gunpowder”. So there is a large body of evidence that has become generally accepted. This cannot in truth be overturned on the basis of what we have here; but readers can make up their own minds on this one. It is however worth mentioning in passing that Bushell was actually a good friend of Prince Rupert, something that would have made access to gunpowder easy if Bushell had wanted it.


--

'There's a lot of activity for a disused mine!' - Bond in 'A view to a kill'
IP: 78.145.216.75
geoff

Avatar of geoff

Joined: 18/04/2008
Location: Pendeen, Cornwall

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 07/07/2009 20:54:43
Reply |  Quote
Francis Pierre makes a mention of Schio in Italy for 1574, I've just done a google books search for this and come up with Mining in World History, by Martin Lynch 2003.

[web link]

He gives an account of experiments in Italy with gunpowder in 1574 which don't seem to have been successful, he also mentions Le Thillot.

Martin Lynch makes the point that it is surprising that it took so long for explosives to be used in mining, also the likelihood of many people coming up with the idea independently.

For researchers in Wales and elsewhere the drills used in this early period in France were 4 sided pyramid shaped leaving a distintictive point in the end of the hole.
IP: 83.104.170.133
royfellows

Avatar of royfellows

Joined: 13/06/2007
Location: Great Wyrley near Walsall

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 07/07/2009 21:30:41
Reply |  Quote
I have to make a point here in that there is powder, and there is powder.
Let me explain.
Gunpowder basically is a mixture of Saltpetre, Charcoal, and sulphur in the proportions of 75,15,10 as a percentage. Blasting powder has a higher percentage of charcoal.
If one just mixes the basic ingredients, upon ignition it will just burn, quickly but rather unevenly. If compressed into a confined space, it will produce an explosion of sorts; however the efficiency of the mixture is very poor.

To produce a true explosive powder the ingredients must be milled together and this has to be done in a wet state, or your day will suddenly turn very bad. Milling in the early days of powder production was fairly poor, and this may well have caused its use in mining to be viewed with disfavour. The effect of ramming it into the barrel of cannon with a lot of tamping and then seating a heavy ball onto it would produce a lot more uniform ignition than ramming it into a shot hole.
Of course then there is the expense. The driving of levels by hand was to persist well into the late 18th century simply because human labour was often cheaper than the price of powder. The later is a little off topic, but worth mentioning all the same.


--

'There's a lot of activity for a disused mine!' - Bond in 'A view to a kill'
IP: 78.145.216.75
Manicminer

Avatar of Manicminer

Joined: 29/04/2007
Location: North Wales

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 07/07/2009 22:10:45
Reply |  Quote
Thomas Bushell's gold mine circa 1630's looks to have been hand driven.




--

Gold is where you find it
IP: 81.76.27.73 Edited: 07/07/2009 22:13:52 by Manicminer
Mr.C

Avatar of Mr.C

Joined: 23/03/2008
Location: North Staffordshire

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 08/07/2009 10:49:33
Reply |  Quote
AR wrote:

Try this article from Mining History: [web link]

This confirms the early use of gunpowder at Ecton (which is in Staffordshire, not Derbyshire) and dates it back to the 1660s and 1670s. The original source of the story about German miners (or Dutchmen, as they were referred to) came from Hooson which was published c.1747.

IIRC this has since been superceeded by re-examining Cromford Sough & it is suggested that powder use here predates Ectons by over 10yrs.

--

If things dunner change - the'll stop as the' are.
IP: 91.111.182.150
royfellows

Avatar of royfellows

Joined: 13/06/2007
Location: Great Wyrley near Walsall

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 08/07/2009 13:30:53
Reply |  Quote
Thomas Bushell's mining activities would not have started before 1636 as it was in that year that he was able to gain favour with the king in a way that caused his fortunes to go on the ascent. Previous to that he had been living as something of a recluse at his Oxfordshire estate.

It was in that year that he was able to purchase the leases of the Society of Mines Royal and in 1637 carried the rank of Co Surveyor General.

I agree about the appearance of hand driving in the gold mine level in the picture Mr Manicminer, but am unsure about where this is?




--

'There's a lot of activity for a disused mine!' - Bond in 'A view to a kill'
IP: 78.145.216.75
Mr.C

Avatar of Mr.C

Joined: 23/03/2008
Location: North Staffordshire

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 08/07/2009 16:58:23
Reply |  Quote
If anyones interested I've just found my copy of the (oft quoted but rarely read) section of Hoosen on early blasting at Ecton.
I could scan it & either post it here or seperatly as a pdf.

--

If things dunner change - the'll stop as the' are.
IP: 91.111.182.150 Edited: 08/07/2009 16:59:29 by Mr.C
royfellows

Avatar of royfellows

Joined: 13/06/2007
Location: Great Wyrley near Walsall

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 08/07/2009 17:10:50
Reply |  Quote
Mr.C wrote:

If anyones interested I've just found my copy of the (oft quoted but rarely read) section of Hoosen on early blasting at Ecton.
I could scan it & either post it here or seperatly as a pdf.


Yes please

--

'There's a lot of activity for a disused mine!' - Bond in 'A view to a kill'
IP: 78.145.216.75
Mr.C

Avatar of Mr.C

Joined: 23/03/2008
Location: North Staffordshire

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 08/07/2009 20:14:35
Reply |  Quote
royfellows wrote:

Mr.C wrote:

If anyones interested I've just found my copy of the (oft quoted but rarely read) section of Hoosen on early blasting at Ecton.
I could scan it & either post it here or seperatly as a pdf.


Yes please

It's here [web link]
Not that good a copy I'm afraid but it's at least readable. I cut & pasted it literaly!
It's often thought to be a contemporary discription but note it's date - around 80yrs after the event!

--

If things dunner change - the'll stop as the' are.
IP: 91.111.182.150 Edited: 08/07/2009 20:18:21 by Mr.C
dotty

Joined: 26/11/2011
Location: mid Cornwall U.K.

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 18/02/2013 17:00:17
Reply |  Quote
I wonder whether Ecton is Elton in Derbyshire? If so would that be a lead mine and would the mineral lord be the Duke of Devonshire?
I am trying to find out when the Crantock, Cornwall, cliffs were first blasted as I suspect the "sea caves" had a lot of help from miners and the economy of this village was closely linked with the London Rich then as now.
IP: 86.137.58.144
droid

Joined: 31/10/2010
Location: Tamworth

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 18/02/2013 17:39:58
Reply |  Quote
A local correspondant would have to be having a very bad day to confuse the two. The Ecton mines were very well known. IP: 86.20.198.141
Dolcoathguy

Avatar of Dolcoathguy

Joined: 21/05/2008
Location: Camborne, Cornwall

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 18/02/2013 19:20:41
Reply |  Quote
The fuse must have been important as well, I expect floors were often wet, so pouring a trail on the floor may have been a no go. I remember being taught aboout hollow feathers during my explosive course, but not sure when they were introduced.

--

Is it safe to come out of the bunker yet?
IP: 2.97.245.192
John Lawson

Joined: 09/12/2010
Location: Castle Douglas Dumfries & Galloway

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 18/02/2013 20:14:52
Reply |  Quote
Good you Roy,now everyone using the site knows how to make black powder!
The difficulty of course is obtaining the potassium nitrate!
Ecton copper mine in Staffordshire was owned by the Duke of Devonshire and was a pipe deposit and extremely rich! Everyone in mining circles in the eighteenth century knew about it! There could be no confusion!
I think as Roy has hinted at the problems whic delayed the introduction of gunpowder to mining.
The first was of milling and drying the powder correctly,and secondly the stemming of the hole/and the attachment of a fuse.
In an electrical age it is very easy to overlook the latter.
IP: 109.157.41.209
John Lawson

Joined: 09/12/2010
Location: Castle Douglas Dumfries & Galloway

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 18/02/2013 20:15:02
Reply |  Quote
Good you Roy,now everyone using the site knows how to make black powder!
The difficulty of course is obtaining the potassium nitrate!
Ecton copper mine in Staffordshire was owned by the Duke of Devonshire and was a pipe deposit and extremely rich! Everyone in mining circles in the eighteenth century knew about it! There could be no confusion!
I think as Roy has hinted at the problems whic delayed the introduction of gunpowder to mining.
The first was of milling and drying the powder correctly,and secondly the stemming of the hole/and the attachment of a fuse.
In an electrical age it is very easy to overlook the latter.
IP: 109.157.41.209
AR

Avatar of AR

Joined: 07/11/2007
Location: Knot far from Knotlow in the middle of the Peak District

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 18/02/2013 20:59:21
Reply |  Quote
This article covers the early powder use at Ecton hill: http://www.pdmhs.com/PDFs/ScannedBulletinArticles/Bulletin%2013-4%20-%20Early%20Use%20of%20%20Gunpowder%20in%20the%20Peak%20Distric.pdf
There's also this one on a possibly even earlier use at Cromford Sough: http://www.pdmhs.com/PDFs/ScannedBulletinArticles/Bulletin%2013-6%20-%20Early%20Gunpowder%20Work%20in%20Longe%20or%20Cromford%20S.pdf

--

I want you to kill Nicholas Parsons, and I want you to make it clean. But if you can't make it clean, make it messy. If you can't make it messy, make it noisy. And if you can't make it noisy, make it silly!
IP: 81.135.85.138
dotty

Joined: 26/11/2011
Location: mid Cornwall U.K.

View Profile
View Posts
View Personal Album
View Personal Files
View all Photos
Send Private Message
The first use of gunpowder in mining
Posted: 19/02/2013 11:59:07
Reply |  Quote
Ecton in the eighteenth C but Elton from earlier and it turns out to be part of a Royal Duchy. I notice confusion about names of places and counties though, what do you make of Chilchumpton? Which was more important back then copper bottoming ships against shipworm in warm waters or keeping the roof watertight ? To the other question
pigeons is the answer, there used to be a law restricting keeping pigeons, so only some old houses had culverhouses or pigeonhouses.
The Royal monopoly on powder went in the Civil War.
The one at Cotehele by the River Tamar is big, I crawled in and had a look, so you could shovel a fair amount of pigeon **** from there. I suppose they made their powder for defense and hunting then mining later.

--

dotty
IP: 86.137.61.217
Jump to page << < 1 2 3 > >>
Safety LED Miners Caplamps Moore Books: Specialist Books I.A. Recordings: Mining and Industrial History DVDs Starless River - Caving Store Explore a Disused Welsh Slate Mine
Disclaimer: Mine exploring can be quite dangerous, but then again it can be alright, it all depends on the weather. Please read the proper disclaimer.
© 2005 to 2015 AditNow.co.uk
Top of Page