June 5, 2000
Greetings from the Great Wet North. The weather has improved a bit - it is foggy and damp out this morning, but the temperature has risen and it is no longer raining. A good sign.
Spent most of the day up at the Killhope Lead Mining Center yesterday. It was quite cold and generally nasty up there in the west end of the valley, and I think the staff outnumbered the visitors. We had the chance to chat with Ian Forbes for a while, and things seem to be going well for them. Work continues on the restoration of the site, and progress has been made on the jigger house since we were here last. We took their underground tour, which I had never done, but I understand everyone else (except Jim, of course) had last year. Put on our Wellies, hard hats, and lanterns, and slogged through the water flowing out the adit. The tunnel was nicely lined with uniform sized bricks of limestone, and looked very tidy compared to our entrance. But then, labor was cheap back then. The accessible portion of the mine is limited, and they had to create a working face area out of fiberglass stone because, evidently, there was some bad ground between the entrance and any real exposures in the mine, and they felt they couldn't safely maintain that portion of the tunnel . Even so, I can not imagine this sort of a thing being open to the public in the US with all our rampant personal injury litigation.
The other portions of the display are coming along. We spent some time chatting with several staff members in the reconstructed living quarters. Trying to give the public a sense of just how miserable life for the miners was, the room had several bunk beds, one for each family who all piled into the same bed to stay warm. the fire was peat, not coal, which is much less expensive and gives off considerably less heat. they even had stuffed rats in the rafters as a finishing touch. Not a pretty life. I guess those miners who managed to actually make some money would, as a rule, promptly immigrate to the states. They even had copied of letters, dated 1859 from one family member who had.
Jonina got herself another stuffed sheep from the gift shop, and I got a couple of books. Ian said that the shop manager is on holiday, but will be in contact when she returns about getting some fluorite from us for the shop. This should give us a chance to get the cleaning process up and running. Chemicals should be in at Elvet by Tuesday.
Got out too late to think of going to Barnard Castle and look up Dave Rennison, so we took a drive up to Allenheads. The pub with all the stuff evidently closed in the afternoons so we continued through Rookhope, ending up at the Mill Race for a beer. I made a quick pasta for everyone for dinner. Left out the cayenne pepper this time, so Byron was happy.
Drilling the new tunnel should begin today at the mine. Byron also wants to drill and shoot a few holes at the far end of the tunnel in order to open up the GBH, and bring the floor down to track level. We've ordered a special rock oil for drilling from Neil Fairless, and hopefully that will be in today, otherwise drilling will be a chore. We also need to either shield or remove the water, air, and hydraulic lines as they cross in front of the proposed blast area. Dave starts with us today, and Jim is looking forward to picking his brain about blasting in this rock. If all goes well today, Jonina and I will go to Kendal tomorrow for explosives and we can shoot on Tuesday.
Hope all is well with everyone on the home front.
Jesse, Jim, Byron, and the "I'm not a morning person" Jonina.