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“Rich Seam” project receives Lottery cash

Hawes, 11 April, 2017

The Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes has won support from National Lottery players to re-house and exhibit one of the country’s most fascinating lead mining collections.

A total of 860 objects, including mining wagons and tools, were given to the DCM by the Yorkshire Dales Mining Museum in Earby when it closed in 2015.

A grant of £90,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) means that the artefacts can now be re-examined and displayed, while the stories of miners and of the members of Earby Mine Research Group who assembled the objects over 50 years can be told.

The project is being called, “A Rich Seam: Lead Mining and Textile Heritage in the Yorkshire Dales”.  

As well as bringing the lead mining collection back to life, new exhibitions will be created from the DCM’s extensive textile holdings. The lead mining and textile industries were once vital to the Dales, especially in the 19th century. They went hand-in-hand, with miners often knitting on the way to work to supplement their income.

“A Rich Seam” will run over the next 18 months.  Significant building work will take place at the DCM, which is owned and run by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).  A mezzanine floor will be extended to create more space, while the lighting, electrics and decoration will be improved.  Designers will be commissioned shortly.

A team of around 20 volunteers will be recruited to work alongside staff on the re-interpretation and display of the lead mining collection.  One of the most challenging tasks will be to reassemble what has been described as the most complete water wheel and double roller ore crusher in the country.  The wheel was rescued from the Providence Mine near Kettlewell in Wharfedale and was transferred to the museum in pieces.

Four former trustees of the Yorkshire Dales Mining Museum have agreed to tell the stories which lie behind each of the artefacts.  Objects range from personal items, such as hats and bottles left underground by miners, to tools and ventilation equipment.  

The project will include a raft of creative and learning activities.  The DCM will work with North Country Theatre, as well as local schools and drama groups, to create performance pieces inspired by the collection.  

The money from the Heritage Lottery Fund covers 82% of the project costs.  Other funding has come from the YDNPA (£10,000); the former Yorkshire Dales Mining Museum (£6,000); Friends of DCM (£2,000); and a private donor (£1,250).

DCM Manager Fiona Rosher, said: “We are thrilled to have been successful with our application to the Heritage Lottery Fund.  We’ve been given a wonderful opportunity to highlight the importance of lead mining within the Yorkshire Dales.  The money means we will be able to display our collections in a way which reflects their significance.

“In the past whole families in the Dales would be involved in both lead mining and knitting. Women and children worked at the mine top, processing the ore, while knitting was a constant activity.  We have an iconic collection of knitting sticks, which were often made as love tokens.”

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