Category Archives: News

News about new products on our site, special offers and happenings in the caving world.

New books

I have taken in a few new titles in the last 10 days

  • British Mining No 98 Memoirs 2014*, SB, A5 112pp £10.00 + P&P
  • Stone to Build London – Portland’s Legacy, *Gill Hackman, HB, 250mm x 250mm, 320pp £24.95 + P&P
  • Mining in Cornwall and Devon Mines and Men *Roger Burt with Raymond Burley, Mike Gill, Alasdair Neill, SB, 227mm x 150mm, 272pp, plus CD rom £25 + P&P
  • A Grey past and Blacker Future – Reminiscences of a Cardiganshire Miner in the Early 1900’s *Editor Megan Waring, SB, A5, 180pp £9.50 + P&P

A Photographic History of Mining in South Wales

The South Wales Valleys once boasted the richest coalfields and the best anthracite coal in the world. Before the dawn of the twenty-first century all but one of the hundreds of coal pits were closed, destroying jobs and whole communities. Only Tower Colliery at Hirwaun continued to produce coal, thanks to the bid by the miners to keep working.

Miners were news at the time of the strikes and disasters but not when they risked life, limb and lung in the bowels of the earth to keep industry turning and the home fires burning. Cardiff, once the biggest coal exporting port in the world, is the magnificent city it is today because of the mine owners who made millions and the miners who worked in damp, dusty and dangerous conditions underground.

Cardiff hailed the miners when they gave them the Freedom of the City in 1995. This book also salutes those to who Wales and the world owes so much.

Classic Darksite Diving , Martyn Farr – new book

Martyn Farr, SB, 17cm x 24.5cm, 192pp, 300 photographs, surveys and maps, in full colour throughout
(publishers description) Classic Darksite Diving is the long awaited companion volume to the globally acclaimed Diving in Darkness, published in 2003. While its predecessor is an instructional guide to activity in overhead environments, this latest publication presents all the necessary practical information relating to specific cave and mine diving sites.

The sites selected are classic popular venues of relatively easy access and these are described for the benefit of people who may be wholly unfamiliar with that site or area. Those individuals new to the sport, or indeed more experienced practitioners, will find all the information they need here to plan a visit. This “where to go” book contains an excellent cross section of venues to cater for all levels of ability.

Contained in this lavishly illustrated work are a multitude of surveys, precise details of site location, access, contacts, history of exploration and, most importantly, what one can expect in terms of diving. Preferred equipment and other essential details regarding length, depth, water conditions, indeed all practical considerations, are set down in clear unambiguous descriptions. Additional information, including invaluable emergency procedures, is contained in several

complementary appendices. This book will open a door to an exciting new world    
£27.50 + P&P

The Scottish Shale Oil Industry & Mineral Railway Lines

The Scottish Shale Oil Industry and Mineral Railway Lines  this book has just arrived and is the most comprehensive written in recent years on this important Scottish Industry. The spoil heaps or Bings that are left are now scheduled and stand as permanent monuments to this great industry and now form part of the Lothian landscape these were visited as on of the highlights of the Scottish NAMHO conference.
Harry Knox, HB, 232 pp, 215mm x 275mm, gloss art paper. Printed board covers. £25.00 + P&P

The Scottish Shale Oil Industry was to prove a world first, where mineral oils were produced for the first time,from the oil bearing shale lying below the county of West Lothian, and in an operation on an industrial scale. This enterprise, from the early beginnings in 1851, expanded into an extensive oil producing and refining industry which competed successfully against the increasing tide of imported petroleum and continued in operation until 1962. The history is stunning, involving tales of enterprise, invention, triumph and even failure, but all resulting in innovative progress and a core of Scottish know-how which was to contribute significantly towards the development of the modern oil industry, worldwide. It remains today a source of great pride with an ongoing legacy.

Earth Colours – Mendip and Bristol Ochre Mining

This book came out last year and I have only just been able to secure copies for sale anyone who attended the Gloucester Hosted  NAMHO will recall Alan Gray's excellent talk on this previously little known industry in the Mendip and Bristol Area
Marie Clarke, Neville Gregory and Alan Gray, HB, 292pp, in full colour £20+ P&P

Earth Colours provides an historical record of ochre mining and the use of ochre on Mendip from the Roman times until the mid 20th century. Includes modern colour photographs and black and white historical onces, the book includes plans and sections plus more useful grid references.

Neville concentrated on the technical and historical aspects of the industry and Marie looked at what the impact of ochre mining was on the towns, villages and people – her anecdotes of characters and life of the times give a human aspect to this book and some unexpected insights – not least of which being lies, theft and murder!

Tony Jarratt has reviewed this book and stated that it will put an entirely different emphasis on mining on Mendip whereas it was thought that the majority of mining was for lead the balance will now be restored with half the mining being for lead and the other half being for ochre.

Alan Gray sourced the photographs and redrew all the maps and diagrams and wrote part of Chapter 12 which brings the research from the 1980's to 2011. This book was researched during the 1970’s and was not published. Unfortunately Marie passed away and during 200.  Alan was contacted by Josyanne Clarke (Marie’s daughter) who wished to publish the book as a tribute to her mother.


Ironstone working in Northumberland

In the course of reviewing the Resource Assessment for iron mining, part of the Research Framework for the Archaeology of the Extractive Industries in England, Mike Gill drew my attention to the extensive iron workings in Northumberland to the north-east of the North Tyne river.

In Redesdale in Northumberland, centred on Rochester and Ridsdale to the south, are two groups of extensive ironstone workings, exploited from at least the Roman period through to the 19th century. Those within the Otterburn ranges have been catalogued as part of 'An Archaeological Survey of the Ministry of Defence Training Area' (Charlton & Day 1977, 126-27). Apart from one or two smelting sites, most sites are recorded without comment in the Northumberland HER and, despite their extensive nature, no archaeological investigation has been carried out nor has there been any detailed published historical research.

It is surprising that no historical accounts of the iron workings turned up in my searches – perhaps someone with local knowledge can point me in the direction of published / unpublished work on these mines. The Ridsdale or Corsenside Ironworks are a scheduled ancient monument with Grade II listed structures and someone must have research the mines and quarries on which the ironworks sources its ore.

Hope someone can help


Dr Peter Claughton,
Blaenpant Morfil, nr. Rosebush, Clynderwen, Pembrokeshire, Wales  SA66 7RE.
Tel. +44 (0)1437 532578; Fax. +44 (0)1437 532921; Mobile +44 (0)7831 427599

Hon. University Fellow – College of Humanities, University of Exeter

Co-owner – mining-history e-mail discussion list.
See  for details.

Mining History Pages –

NAMHO conference 28 June – 1 July, Aberystwyth – Mining Legacies

The lecture programme for the NAMHO conference in Aberystwyth, 28 June – 1 July, is now on the web site at – go to Programme page and there is a link allowing you to download the lecture programme as a PDF.

With the lecture programme now fully subscribed we are encouraging other participants to contribute poster presentations – if you or your group is engaged in research into the history and/or archaeology of mining then we would welcome a poster presentation. There are boards available for posters up to A0 size. Just contact myself <> or Catherine Mills <>.

The conference booking form is also up there on the website – online submission is possible if you pay by PayPal – contact Catherine for details.


Dr Peter Claughton,
Blaenpant Morfil, nr. Rosebush, Clynderwen, Pembrokeshire, Wales  SA66 7RE.
Tel. +44 (0)1437 532578; Fax. +44 (0)1437 532921; Mobile +44 (0)7831 427599

Hon. University Fellow – College of Humanities, University of Exeter

Co-owner – mining-history e-mail discussion list.
See  for details.

Mining History Pages –

Mining Gala at Apedale Heritage Centre

Mining Gala at Apedale Heritage Centre

Staff at the Apedale Heritage Centre are arranging a Mining Gala on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th June 2013.
To date representatives from the Mines Rescue service, Winsford Salt Mine, North Wales Miners Association Trust, CISWO, the Friends of Chatterley Whitfield and others have agreed to attend.

As well as the mining museum there will be mine tours operated by the volunteers at Apedale, train rides on the Apedale Valley Railway, a funfair and entertainment (possibly the Florence silver band and a choir).

The organisers are keen for other mining heritage groups to attend. If you or your group would be interested then please contact:

Les Mason 07837 225790 or Dave Rushton 07980 961744 (leave a message if no answer)

or email to

Details will be posted on the Apedale website