Mining Attractions in Cumbria

Although the Romans mined lead and iron in Cumbria, the industry first began on a large scale with the coming of German immigrants, who had been hired by the Company of Mines Royal in the 16th century. They mined the copper and lead in the Keswick and Newlands areas. The Caldbeck fells, the Coniston area, and Ullswater's head were also exploited.

Haig Colliery Mining Museum Honister Slate Mine
Nenthead Mines Heritage Centre Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum

During the 18th century blast furnaces used local charcoal and waterpower to produce iron in rural areas. The Pennines saw lead mining evolve from hand powered machinery to power-driven ore crushers. In the 18th century the London Lead Co developed the areas around Nenthead and Alston. South and west Cumbria were mined for their rich haematite iron-ore deposits.

Coal soon became the driving force behind the growth of industry, fuelling the iron works in Workington, Millom, and Consett. Barrow-in-Furness, Dalton, Maryport, and Ulverston joined the list of mining towns. Transport needed for the coal promoted the growth of railways and roads. Soon villages to house workers became necessary, and mining towns grew up.

Granite was quarried for many of Londons public buildings. Today the quarrying of slate, especially from the Honister Pass area, provides a popular product.

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