This is an archived press release

Monday 10 May 2004

10 May 2004


A recent survey has found that three quarters of surface remains of the Peak District's former lead mining industry have been lost over the last 100 years.

Lead mining in the Peak District was once one of the largest, richest and longest-worked heavy metal mining industries in Europe. In the 17th and 18th centuries lead vied with iron, behind wool, as Britain's major export. Lead was used for pipe-making, roofing, guttering, in pigments for paint, in making pewter and for musket and pistol ammunition.

Now a partnership of conservation heavyweights - the Peak District National Park Authority, English Heritage and English Nature - have come together to form the Lead Rakes Project and are calling for urgent action to safeguard remaining lead mining sites and unique lead rake landscapes.

Next Monday (17 May) the partnership will launch a report - 'The Lead Legacy' - highlighting the ongoing losses of historic lead mining remains in the Peak District and sets out the action needed to conserve this rare industrial heritage and protect the special wildlife that has adapted to tolerate metal-rich soil.

Jane Chapman, Head of Conservation at the National Park Authority, said: "Centuries of lead mining have helped shape the Peak District - one of Britain's best-loved and internationally important landscapes. Grassy hillocks and hollows and ruined mining structures survive as a testament to the hard work of generations of local people and now contribute to the colourful and diverse mosaic of habitats in the National Park.

"Through the Lead Rakes Project our aim is to work together to conserve the legacy left to us by the lead miners. We want to work with farmers, landowners, mineral operators, local communities and visitors to help everyone appreciate the past and understand the importance of safeguarding these special features now and for future generations."

Jon Humble, Inspector of Ancient Monuments for English Heritage, said: "We need to take action now so that this irreplaceable heritage is not lost forever. The 'humps and bumps' left in fields across the White Peak tell the story of how people have literally scraped a living from the landscape since Roman times - and the surface remains link people living and working in the Peak District now to people in the past."

Ben Le Bas, from English Nature's Peak District and Derbyshire Team, said: "Each lead rake site is truly unique. The environment, mineral deposits, historical use and the way the land has been managed or left since mine workings were abandoned are different for each site. They support specialist plants, such as the nationally scarce spring sandwort or 'leadwort', alpine penny-cress, Pyrenean scurvy-grass and mountain pansy, and provide havens for other once-common wildflowers as well as for rare and declining mammals, birds and invertebrates - making them an important resource for biodiversity."

This is an archived press release

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