Magpie Mine And The Curse of the Maypitt Widows
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Magpie Mine And The Curse of the Maypitt Widows

Magpie Mine is located near the tiny Derbyshire village of Sheldon in the Peak District National Park. The mine was erected to extract lead from the thin veins of lead sulphite that stretch out across this area of grassland.


In Roman times lead was mined in the area. As mines needed to be dug deeper the problem of flooding became a real issue. At Magpie Mine a beam engine was not enough to get rid of the water. A drainage sough (tunnel basically) that emptied into the Wye was dug in 1881 at great expense, although it did make the mine profitable for a few short years. In 1970 the slough blew out part of the hillside with the pressure of water.


Magpie was not the only mine in the area. The competing mines of Red Soil, Maypitt and Horsesteps were located very close as miners struggled to make the production profitable.


The mine was in constant dispute with the other mines over who had the right to mine which vein. The nearby Red Soil miners and their Magpie rivals tried smoking each other out. In 1833 three miners from the Maypitt suffocated from the fumes. Two dozen miners were put on trial for murder although all were acquitted as the actual culprit could not be identified. In response to the trial breaking down, the widows of the dead Maypitt men put a curse on Maypit Mine.


In 1835 the mine went bankrupt.


From 1839 onwards the mine was started, failed and suffered a run of tragic accidents until it closed for the last time in 1954.


The Peak District Mines Historical Society took over the care for the site which was designated a Scheduled Monument in 1974. Today you can visit the mine and see the remains of this well preserved facility.

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Location: Magpie Mine, Sheldon, Derbyshire, DE45 1QU.

Keywords: Peak District (39).

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