© 2020 by Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group.

For further information email uwhg.enquiries@gmail.com

Lead and Coal Mining in Upper Wharfedale

Lead and coal have been mined in Wharfedale since medieval times. 

The lead was deposited as veins in fissures in the rocks by hot percolating mineral solutions. In early times these veins were worked, often by small groups of miners, as open works or via shallow shafts. The 18th and 19th centuries saw the development of larger mining companies; deeper shafts were sunk and levels driven for drainage or haulage. By the end of the 19th century, faced with increased completion from cheaper lead imports, the industry came to a close.


Thin seams of coal are found within the Yoredale and the Millstone Grit Groups of rocks. The coal is of poor quality. It was mined from shallow mines and used locally. In the early 20th century mining on a more industrial scale saw the development of a colliery at Threshfield by local entrepreneur John Delaney to supply coal for his lime kilns. This venture was short-lived and coal mining at Threshfield ceased in 1905.

Today semi-grassed spoil heaps, a line of collapsed shafts, or a ruined stone structure may provide the only indication of former mining activity. These historic sites are at risk as the features gradually fade back into the landscape. The purpose of this Lead and Coal Mining Survey is to record the principal features of some of the less well documented sites in their landscape settings. 


The survey team began work in 2018 and is ongoing. We are pleased to receive support from the Northern Mine Research Society, Olicana Historical Society and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. If you would like to know more about the survey please contact uwhg.enquiries@gmail.com.


All old mine workings are potentially dangerous and caution is needed at all times. There are still open shafts, some unfenced or covered by heaps of stones. Care should be taken not to damage the sites which are historically important; some are scheduled ancient monuments.