Green Hurth lead mine and ore works


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015836

Date first listed: 16-May-1997


Ordnance survey map of Green Hurth lead mine and ore works
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1015836 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 13-Dec-2018 at 13:56:02.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Forest and Frith

National Grid Reference: NY 78076 32730, NY 78443 32560


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Approximately 10,000 lead industry sites are estimated to survive in England, spanning nearly three millennia of mining history from the later Bronze Age (c.1000 BC) until the present day, though before the Roman period it is likely to have been on a small scale. Two hundred and fifty one lead industry sites, representing approximately 2.5% of the estimated national archaeological resource for the industry, have been identified as being of national importance. This selection of nationally important monuments, compiled and assessed through a comprehensive survey of the lead industry, is designed to represent the industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity. Nucleated lead mines are a prominent type of field monument produced by lead mining. They consist of a range of features grouped around the adits and/or shafts of a mine. The simplest examples contain merely a shaft or adit with associated spoil tip, but more complex and (in general) later examples may include remains of engine houses for pumping and/or winding from shafts, housing, lodging shops and offices, powder houses for storing gunpowder, power transmission features such as wheel pits, dams and leats. The majority of nucleated lead mines also included ore works, where the mixture of ore and waste rock extracted from the ground was separated ('dressed') to form a smeltable concentrate. The range of processes used can be summarised as: picking out of clean lumps of ore and waste; breaking down of lumps to smaller sizes (either by manual hammering or mechanical crushing); sorting of broken material by size; separation of gravel-sized material by shaking on a sieve in a tub of water ('jigging'); and separation of finer material by washing away the lighter waste in a current of water ('buddling'). The field remains of ore works vary widely and include the remains of crushing devices, separating structures and tanks, tips of distinctive waste from the various processes, together with associated water supply and power installations, such as wheel pits and, more rarely, steam engine houses. The majority of nucleated lead mines with ore works are of 18th to 20th century date, earlier mining being normally by rake or hush and including scattered ore dressing features (a 'hush' is a gully or ravine partly excavated by use of a controlled torrent of water to reveal or exploit a vein of mineral ore). Nucleated lead mines often illustrate the great advances in industrial technology associated with the period known as the Industrial Revolution and, sometimes, also inform an understanding of the great changes in social conditions which accompanied it. Because of the greatly increased scale of working associated with nucleated mining such features can be a major component of many upland landscapes. It is estimated that several thousand sites exist, the majority being small mines of limited importance, although the important early remains of many larger mines have often been greatly modified or destroyed by continued working or by modern reworking. A sample of the better preserved sites, illustrating the regional, chronological and technological range of the class, is considered to merit protection.

Green Hurth is a good example of a late 19th century lead mine. The ore works retains particularly well preserved features including timber features, such as launders and a trunk buddle, as well as a series of discreet deposits of ore processing wastes. These features, with their associated spreads of waste, retain important technological information which will contribute to our understanding of ore processing. The waterpower features, the wheelpit with its associated water supply and power transmission systems, are also well preserved, and are nationally rare survivals. Given the range of features and their level of preservation, the whole site should be considered as an important resource for the understanding of the mining technology of this period.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument, which lies within two areas, is situated on the south west side of Herdship Fell, to the north east of the River Tees. It includes the ruined earthwork and buried remains of a late 19th century lead mine and the well preserved remains of a complex ore works with associated waste heaps. It does not include the more dispersed remains of levels and shafts which were also part of the mine. The earliest known reference to Green Hurth Mine was in 1799 when a 21 year lease was granted to John Surtees and Co. This lease had to be surrendered early because the company failed to start mining operations within the allotted time, and it is not until 1828 that there is any record of work being done at Green Hurth. Between 1845 and 1852, the area was worked as part of a group of small mines operated by Sherlock and Co, but production was only in the region of 500 tons per year. In 1864 the Green Hurth Lead Mining Company was formed which raised over 5000 pounds in working capital to develop the mine. Most of the visible remains at Green Hurth date to after c.1868 when mining operations are thought to have begun. It proved to be a profitable mine with the silver content of the ore increasing with depth to 12oz per ton of lead, double that more commonly expected. The mine produced over 18,000 tons of lead before flooding forced abandonment in 1902. The standing remains of a c.12m by 4m stone and concrete built wheelpit lie at the southernmost corner of the first area of protection. A published 19th century photograph shows it to have held a large pitch-back waterwheel, linked to a system of flat rods that transferred the power generated by the waterwheel to Swan's Shaft, 530m to the east. The mountings for the balance bobs (which counteracted the weight of the flat rods) are still in situ at the east and west ends of the pit. The line of the flat rod system, leading up hill to the shaft, can be traced as an intermittent trench with occasional mountings. One concrete setting, c.80m from the wheelpit, retains evidence that power was also transferred from the main rodway to the ore works via a second set of flat rods. Swan's Shaft, named after the company's managing director, was the main drawing shaft for the mine. It lies at the far east end of the first area of protection. Sunk in the 1870s, the shaft has since collapsed and now forms a pond surrounded by a drystone wall. Immediately to the west of the shaft there are the stone and concrete remains of machinery settings, with a number of in situ iron holding-down bolts protruding from the ground. These relate to shaft top equipment shown in a second published photograph taken when the mine was operational. Also close by there is a grassed over heap of cinders and boiler ash. All these features are included in the scheduling. Attached to the east side of the wall around the shaft are the remains of a small building, now used as a sheepfold, and to the north there are the collapsed remains of a further three shafts. These remains have been modified since the mine's closure to such an extent that they have not been included within the scheduling. Extending from Swan's Shaft, for c.400m downhill WNW, is the embankment for a single tracked tramway incline. Approximately 300m from the shaft there are the 0.2m high earthwork remains of a group of buildings which cover a 15m by 20m area just to the north of the incline. To the west of these remains, there are the 1m high earthworks of a c.30m long dam, and beyond this, the partly collapsed remains of a level. All of these remains are included in the scheduling. At the mouth of the level and at the end of the tramway, there are the well preserved remains of a c.60m by 40m mine spoil heap that lies on top of a set of larger heaps of mine spoil and hand picked waste covering a triangular area c.140m by 100m. On top of the larger heap, south east of the mine spoil heap, there is a level area of ore processing wastes which retains evidence of partly buried timber and stone built features. This is considered to be the remains of the mine's original ore processing (dressing) area. To the south west of the large waste heap there are the well preserved remains of the ore works that are thought to have been at least partly powered by the large waterwheel, and were constructed by the Green Hurth Company after 1868. The works are built on a series of terraces which retain footings of buildings and the remains of ore processing equipment. Each terrace is covered by a spread of dressing waste that relates to the ore process which was carried out on that terrace, the waste becoming progressively finer downhill. After hand sorting and crushing, the high relative density of lead ore was exploited with the aid of water to separate it from the lighter waste minerals. The remains of the Green Hurth ore works include a network of water courses including both timber and stone lined trenches, sometimes as little as 0.1m wide, as well as a c.0.5m wide stone arched culvert that emerges from underneath the spoil heap to the north. Remains of the ore processing equipment include: the timbers thought to relate to a set of powered jiggers (which agitated gravel sized material on sieves in tanks of water); a pair of c.3m diameter stone built circular buddles (where finer particles were carried in a stream of water from the centre to the circumference of a shallow angled cone, the lead particles depositing first); and the nearly complete timber remains of a c.1m by 4m trunk buddle (which was similar in operation). Immediately to the south east of the ore works is a c.40m by 70m rounded spoil heap of processing waste, and extending from the lowest terrace is a leat that carried the waste water to the large wheelpit to the south. The open entrance to a level lies c.60m to the north of the wheelpit. There is no trackway link to the ore works, and this level is thought to have been used for drainage: it is still issuing water. The ruined remains of two cottages lie c.50m to the east of this level. These were used by the mine manager and the washing master, the ore works supervisor. Just uphill from these ruins there is the low earthwork of a partly silted c.30m by 40m reservoir, and further water management features survive as earthworks between this and the incline to the north. Approximately 200m to the south east of Swan's Shaft are the standing remains of a single storey c.3m by 4m stone building, within the second area of protection. The east end, including the gable wall, survives to eaves height and is backed by a 1m high, 1m wide stone platform. This building is thought to have been the explosives store for the mine. The drystone wall around Swan's Shaft is excluded from the scheduling, however the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 29019

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing