Park Level Mine
When you arrive at Killhope you will be allocated a time slot and guide for your mine trip. The mine trip takes 1 hour from kitting up to kitting down. You will be underground for about 45 minutes. Wellingtons are essential as you walk through water. Killhope has wellingtons you can borrow or you can bring your own if you wish.
In 1853 the WB Lead Company began to dig an ‘adit’ otherwise known as the horse level at Killhope.
Peter Milburn, Joseph Carrick, Joseph Emerson and Joseph Peart started cutting the tunnel. When you take your underground tour you will be able to see the initials that they carved into the stone.
It was slow work, with the first 500 metres taking five years to cut. Very little ore was found in the first 4 veins. After 20 years a rich ore body was cut which provided work for over 100 miners.
At it's peak it was one of the richest lead mines in the whole of Great Britain.
In the largely treeless landscape of the North Pennines the miners did not use wooden supports but dry stone arching to line the tunnel. As you walk through the tunnel the stonework looks recent, however, it is actually over 150 years old.
In the Engine Chamber a 5.5 metre diameter waterwheel was installed to pump water. This wheel is 36 metres up from the lower levels of the mine and can pump 250 litres of water per minute.
"No boy under the age of 12 years, and no girl or woman of any age, shall be employed in or allowed to be for the purpose of employment in any mine to which this act applies below ground." (Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act 1872)
Park Level Mine was reopened to the public in 1996. The mine is classed as a working mine and has to be inspected twice a day. The Mines Inspector also comes to Killhope and carries out a yearly site and mine inspection.