From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Wapping Mine and Cumberland Cavern

53°06'50.0"N 1°33'45.8"W

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The Wapping Mine and Cumberland Cavern are abandoned mines located on the hillside of Matlock Bath, Derbyshire and is a World Heritage Site.

The Wapping Mine started life in the 18th century as a lead mine, digging for galena, in the Moletrap Vein. The galena is a lead and silver bearing ore and is one of the most abundant and widely distributed sulfide minerals. It crystallizes as a cubic crystal system often showing octahedral forms. It is often associated with the minerals sphalerite, calcite and fluorite. Lead has a low melting point so it is easy to extract by smelting, with a by product of silver, greatly increasing the value of the products produced.

From 1924, the spoil and mine was reworked for fluorspar, a King George II shilling was found proving the mine was being worked in the 1750's. Fluorite is the mineral form of calcium fluoride, CaF2 and crystallizes in isometric cubic habit, although octahedral and more complex isometric forms are not uncommon. Pure fluorite is transparent in both in visible and ultraviolet light, but impurities usually make it a colourful mineral and the stone has ornamental uses. Fluorite is used as a flux for smelting and in the production of certain glasses and enamels. The purest grades of fluorite are a source of fluoride for hydrofluoric acid manufacture. Optically clear transparent fluorite lenses have low dispersion, so lenses made from it exhibit less chromatic aberration, making them valuable in microscopes and telescopes. Fluorite optics are also usable in the far-ultraviolet and mid-infrared ranges, where conventional glasses are too absorbent for use.

The Moletrap Vein and the Maze, located at the northwest end of the mine, where main areas of the works. The Maze is a confusing warren of passages and pockets, but did not actually yield a large amount of fluorspar. It was virtually abandoned in 1936, but in 1953 it was worked again quite intensively for around 3 years. During this time an opencast section was started at the adit, which advanced westwards along the rake. A collapse in 1954, brought the front end of the mine down. The Incline Level, located southwest from the main adit was also driven in this period in an attempt to cross the vein from the Main Stope working, but this proved to be unfruitful.

The Cumberland Cavern, originally known as the Cumberland Mine, is an old working probably developed at the same time as the Wapping Mine and is located about 12m above the Wapping workings and has two connections with it. The Funnel Cave at the end of the Forth Stope in Wapping and the Devils Pit, which leads into the Maze.

Most of the workings in Cumberland Cavern have broken into natural chambers. The mine was opened in 1780, as a show cave. Queen Victoria visited the show cave in 1844, it then became known as Royal Cumberland Cavern. After the show cave was closed, somewhere in between the late 1960's and early 1970's a gang called the Troggs occupied the show cave resulting in large amounts of graffiti in some of its chambers.

The Cumberland Cavern adit is no longer open and entrance into it is via the Wapping Mine.