Saturday 08 August 2020

Westcott Copper Mine

Westcott Mine operated from 1859 until 1945 producing copper originally and then being reworked for barytes.

The first recorded mining was for copper in 1859, when John Harrison & Company worked the mine by opencasting, levels and 4 shafts. There may have been mining before this date but no record has yet been found. John Harrison used to work the lead mine at Meadowtown until 1858 but, since this is only small, it presumably became worked out and he transferred his attentions to Westcott. In 1867, the mine was sold to the Westcott Mine Company, whose manager was John Kitto. The latter was also manager at Central Snailbeach Mine and he may have been responsible for erecting the pumping engine house and chimney at the main shaft..

The depth of the main shaft is not known but the water table is very near the surface here and pumping would have been necessary at relatively shallow depths. In 1870, Kitto was replaced by Jason Nancarrow (a Cornishman) who had been manager at Bog Mine between 1864-69. His managership does not seem to have lasted long since the mine appears to have closed in that same year. The only recorded output of copper for this period was 179 tons, approximately equivalent to 1,375 worth.

Betweeen 1890 and 1894, the mine was worked for barytes by M Hulton-Harrop, who was the landowner. In 1890, there were 5 men working on the surface and 3 underground but by 1891 this had reduced to only 4 underground. Westcott Mine closed again in 1894 and Hulton-Harrop concentrated on his mines at Gatten and Rhadley. The only recorded output of barytes during this period was 1,785 tons worth around 1,075.

From 1910 until 1945, the Huglith Mine extracted barytes and it was the biggest such operation in Shropshire. A level was driven underground from the Huglith workings at a depth of 250ft and found barytes veins up to 20 inches wide under the old Westcott Mine. These were worked for a short time but were abandoned when better reserves were found to the north. It is believed that Westcott Birches was the original mine manager's house, although it was later occupied by the mine fitter.

extracted from "Westcott Mine", Adrian Pearce, SCMC Journal No.2

The main part of this mine around the engine house, boiler house and shaft has been landscaped into a garden for Westcott Birches. Pump rods used to stick out of the shaft but it has now been filled with rubbish. Two adjacent adits have collapsed but one was open in 1960.

South of the garden, there are two open adits east of the track but neither goes very far. Further on is a collapsed adit west of the track and the open main adit east of the track. This connects with a shaft that leads to surface. Further up the hillside is an open stope and two collapsed shafts. To the west of the road is the tip of a collapsed shaft and a collapsed trial adit.

In April 2008 there was a collapse next to the Pulverbatch-Habberley road just above Westcott Farm. An adit and some stoping were found running under the road and use as a storm drain from road runoff appeared to have precipitated the problem. The workings were dug out and then drainage pipes concreted in to reinforce the road. There was not much to see in the adit, apart from a nearly complete set of rotting horse bridle, collar, ames etc obviously dumped into the mine years ago when past its 'sell by' date.