Florence Mine

Florence Mine Heritage Centre - Florence Arts Centre


Useful Information

Location: Take the A 595 trunk road from Whitehaven to Egremont. South of Egremont, take the minor road to Wilton and after 200 meters turn left.
Open: Florence Arts Centre: all year Wed-Sun 11-16. [2020]
Fee: Florence Arts Centre: free. [2020]
Classification: MineIron Mine hematite
Light: n/a
Dimension:
Guided tours: closed [2007]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility:
Bibliography:
Address: Florence Arts Centre, Florence Mine, Egremont, Cumbria, CA22 2NR, Tel: +44-1946-824946. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

2000 BP first iron mining by the Romans and the early Britons.
1830s mining in the area developed.
JAN-1914 first cut at Florence Mine.
1940s second shaft sunk.
1950s connected to the Ullcoats system presently worked.
13-SEP-1968 mine closed on Black Friday as a result of nationalisation.
1969 lease of Florence and Ullcoats mines taken over by Beckermet mines, part of the British Steel Corporation.
APR-1970 mines connected by a drift, resulting mine covers five miles between Calderbridge and Uldale valley.
03-OCT-1980 mine closed by the British Steel Corporation.
1980 mine operated on a much smaller scale by former miners.
2007 Florence Mine Heritage Centre closed, mine finally closed and flooded.

Geology


Description

Florence Mine was the last working iron ore mine in Europe when it was closed in 2007. Most other iron mines were closed during the steel crisis in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But Florence had a specialty, the iron ore was high grade hematite and was not only an ore, but also an important additive to various industrial processes, the red pigment was used in colours, and a source for impressive jewelry and artworks.

Even after the mine was closed in 1980 by British Steel it was operated on a very low level by volunteers, who operated the exhibition of the Florence Mine Heritage Center, guided show mine tours and did a little mining. The miners provided the paint, dye, and cosmetics industry with pigment. This was possible because the nearby Sellafield nuclear plant needed the water for their cooling systems, so they paid for the pumping. This ended in 2007 when British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. no longer required the water, and the other operations were not earning enough for the pumping. Finally there was some controversy between the non-profit Florence Mine Heritage Center and the owner, including a discussion about using the site for atomic waste. As a result the exhibition was closed, mine tours discontinued, the heritage center evicted and pumps shut down which caused the flooding of the mine. Obviously the flooded mine was not used for atomic waste though.

So today all that remains are the surface buildings, which are still impressive and include the headframe of the mine shaft. The buildings are used by the Florence Arts Centre, their only connection to the mine is that they produce minor amounts of red colour for artists from the last remains of the hematite ore from 2007.