BECKWITHS MINE

 

Beckwiths mine, located in Glen Rushen, is the most westerly of the Foxdale group and was probably the most troublesome of all mines on the Isle of Man.

Mining started in 1831 after lead ore was found stuck in the spokes of a cart wheel. A captain from the Foxdale mines was informed and two men were immediately put to work to search for lead in the heather in which several tons had been found. In the same year, sinking of the first shaft commenced on the Beckwith lode.

The vein, known as the Foxdale shear, runs from west to east through Crossís mine, Dixons mine and the main Foxdale group. In all, a total of thirteen mines.

By 1832, the engine shaft had reached 18 fathoms and was to connect to a level driven in from a small gully. From this time on, the first in the mines history of problems occurred when water broke in flooding the workings.

The mine was at a depth of thirty five fathoms by 1838 and the existing pump was unable to deal with the perpetual influx of water.

Company director, William Jones set the men about removing a forty foot water wheel from Foxdale and re assembling it in the valley bottom of Glen Rushen to give greater pumping capacity. The shaft had reached a depth of fifty fathoms by 1840 but work had to cease due to an exceptionally dry summer and lack of water to operate the wheel. The need for increased pumping led to the purchase of a fifty inch steam engine from Wales after serious flooding of the levels.

By this time, the washing floors had been developed further with the introduction of a new steam engine and water wheel for crushing and milling the ore. In 1845 a new day level was driven from the floor of the valley  to connect with the engine shaft at 23 fathoms. The shaft had now reached a depth of 80 fathoms. After 1850, the mine reached itís terminal depth of 185 fathoms and despite the continuous problems with water, the mine worked productively until itís closure in 1879.

 

TODAY

The site is dominated by the great leaning chimney that has stood the test of time against the prevailing westerly winds and marks the site of the engine shaft. The surface remains are fairly well preserved with the consolidation of some of the buildings. The washing floors were extensively excavated and recorded in 1970 by the Manx Mines Research Group but unfortunately have suffered some damage and decay due to the use of motor cycles over the floors.

Exploration of the underground workings was gained by the new day level in the valley bottom and a total length of 1600 feet of passage was surveyed before a roof fall was encountered. In 1996, the engine shaft, which was believed to have been filled, collapsed to a depth of 140 ft from surface stripping out the shaft lining. The shaft was rebuilt and capped by the mines group for the Government within six weeks.

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