There has been a great deal of research into the nineteenth century lead mining industry in the North Pennines. In the Allen Valleys, one line of enquiry has revealed that just as ore smelting at Dukesfield Smelt Mill declined, it increased at Allen Smelt Mill in Allendale.
Originally, ponies were led across the moors to bring the ore, loaded in paniers, to the smelt mill from the mines. Then as access opened up, horses and carts were used, until a small railway line was laid to transport the ever increasing amounts of ore. And not only was lead ore mined; at Allen Smelt Mill, substantial quantities of silver were first extracted before the lead smelting process began.
The site was developed over several years. By transcribing original documents, volunteers have been able to plot the history of Allen Smelt Mill, and the building of its associated chimneys, prominent on the skyline above Allendale to the north west. Volunteers are working on site to uncover the ore hearths, storage bays (‘bingsteads’), water tunnels and underground flues that took harmful gases out to the chimneys on the moor.
The embankment has now been consolidated to a large extent and display boards have been commissioned to help explain the site to visitors. Work is continuing on site throughout 2017-18, with plans to recostruct and install a water wheel in the wheel pit, and for further excavation of bingsteads, floors, furnaces, and tunnels.
If you would like to volunteer and help the excavation work on site, please use the contact form on this website.