Sources for the History of Mines and Quarries
Domestic Records Information 64
The National Archives holds two main categories of records about mines and quarries: those relating to the numerous mines owned by the Crown, and those which chronicle the growing involvement of the State with mining and quarrying companies in the 19th and 20th centuries. Except in the case of coal deposits, this involvement stopped just short of nationalisation. This Research Guide attempts to identify some of the most useful sources in The National Archives for the study of the history of non-carboniferous mines and quarries in this country. Coal mining records held in The National Archives are described in a separate Research Guide Coal Mining Records in The National Archives.
2. Mines and Quarries: A brief history of state control
From the middle ages the Crown exercised a prerogative right not only to gold and silver mines, but also to any other mines (in practice those producing copper, tin, iron or lead) where gold and silver were found. The Royal Mines Act 1688 revoked royal rights to these other mines, but duties on the ores produced there continued to be levied. The Exchequer, and subsequently the Auditors of Land Revenues and the Commissioners of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues, administered the revenues from royal mines and quarries, and their records are rich in relevant references.
No state control was exercised over mines and quarries in private hands until the mid-19th century, when inspectors of mines were appointed under the Home Office.
The direct involvement of the State with mines and quarries began when, under the provisions of the Mines Act 1842, inspectors of mines were appointed to regulate employment conditions in mines. The inspectors' responsibilities were extended by a succession of statutes:
Following the Quarries Act 1894, mines inspectors were given responsibility for all quarries, whereas previously factory inspectors had been responsible for quarries using steam power.
The duties of the mines inspectors came to encompass inspection of both mines and conditions of work.
From the end of the 19th century, the Board of Trade was concerned with both the industrial and the economic aspects of mines and quarries, and in 1920 the first state organisation exclusively concerned with them, the Mines Department, was set up as a department of that Board. Since then, a long succession of government departments has exercised general responsibility for mines and quarries and related matters.
The successive government departments which have exercised general responsibility for the mining and quarrying industries are:
Other departments exercised a variety of specific powers:
More detailed administrative histories of all these departments and bodies are in the Catalogue at departmental (lettercode) level.
3. The First World War
State control over mines and mineral resources was considerably tightened during the First World War. From 1915 onward, the Ministry of Munitions exercised responsibility for the supply of raw materials and for the development of mineral resources. Records of its Mineral Resources Development Department are in BT 62 and POWE 16 ; see also POWE 26 and MUN 4 (especially subseries 'Metals and Raw Materials').
In 1917, the Ministry of Reconstruction was established to continue the work of the Reconstruction Committees relating to the co-ordination of preparations for the restoration and improvement of normal industrial, trading and social conditions at the end of the First World War. The records of the Central Materials Supply Committee (RECO 1/357 to RECO 1/409 ) illustrate the Committee's concern with mineral resources. Papers of the Mining Sub-Committee of the Acquisition and Valuation of Land Committee are in LCO 3/34 to LCO 3/39 , and papers of the Non-Ferrous Metals Committee, 1916-1917, are in BT 55/46 .
4. Between the wars
The Mines Department, constituted in 1920, inherited a range of responsibilities for mines and quarries. Its Production Division promoted the scientific and economic development of mineral resources (POWE 16 , POWE 22 , POWE 26 ); and its labour division regulated labour relations in mines (POWE 16 , POWE 20 , POWE 26 ). POWE 7 contains statistics produced by the Department.
After the First World War, authority over the exploitation and supply of certain mineral commodities was divided among a number of government departments. A necessarily selective list of such commodities is given here, with references to record series containing relevant material:
Other relevant papers are likely to be found among the records of the Board of Trade Industries and Manufactures Division (BT 64 ), the Board of Trade Industrial Supplies Department (BT 96 ), the Ministry of Supply (SUPP 14 ) and the Ministry of Materials (BT 161 ). See also the Treasury supply files (T 161 ) and Treasury Trade and Industry Division files (T 228 ).
5. The Second World War
A good starting point for information about mining and mineral resources during the Second World War is two volumes of the Board of Trade Official History. See Eric Lyde Hargreaves and Margaret Mary Gowing, Civil industry and trade (London, 1952), and J Hurstfield, The control of raw materials, (London, 1953), both available in the Library at The National Archives. Copies of documents extracted from registered files by the official historians in the course of their work are in BT 131 .
In June 1942, all major functions relating to fuel and power, including control of coal, lignite, peat and shale, were transferred from the Mines Department, the Board of Trade and the Home Office to a new Ministry of Fuel and Power which, like its predecessor departments, exercised certain controls over metalliferous and other mines, and over quarries. In particular, it dealt with production policy (see POWE 16 ; and POWE 22 , codes 2 and 7 in the paper series lists); regulated labour relations in mines and quarries (POWE 20 ); supervised the Mines Inspectorate (POWE 7 , POWE 10 ), and dealt with health and safety in mines (POWE 8 , POWE 10 , POWE 25 ).
Registered files selected from various series raised by the Treasury Solicitor's outstation at the Department of Energy and its predecessors are in TS 49 . The files contain correspondence and associated papers arising from legal advice and representation on issues relating to the regulation of coal and other fuels during and after the Second World War. The selected records include material on safety regulations in mines and quarries, the storage and use of explosives, adequate ventilation, and prosecutions for contravention of the regulations.
6. Post-war planning controls
In 1946, the government set up the Mineral Development Committee to investigate mineral resources in the United Kingdom and to recommend how they might be exploited (see HLG 89 , HLG 98 , CAB 134/498 and POWE 16 ). Its report described the principal mineral deposits and suggested that, apart from chalk, clay and gravel, they should be nationalised. In 1949 the Cabinet considered and accepted this report (CAB 129/36 ; CAB 128/16 ), but the scheme never came to fruition.
From 1947, all mineral workings were brought under new and stricter planning measures. Although mineral workings had been subject to certain limited planning controls since 1932, the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 introduced more stringent requirements and created new controls over the extraction of minerals. Existing workings were to be subject to review and planning permission was made compulsory for new workings. These stipulations were to be implemented by local authorities under the supervision of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning, succeeded by the short-lived Ministry of Local Government and Planning in 1951 and by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government from 1951 to 1970. The Minerals Division (after 1964 the Planning Division) of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and its successors dealt with questions relating to the supply of and demand for minerals, and with technical factors governing mineral excavation, spoil disposal and ultimate restoration of the land.
Minerals policy and planning files are in HLG 89 , correspondence and papers are in HLG 71 , town and country planning files documenting dealings with local authorities in HLG 79 , planning and redevelopment files in HLG 104 and Regional Office files in HLG 107 .
The Ironstone Restoration Fund was created by the Mineral Workings Act 1951 to deal with problems caused by the opencast extraction of ironstone in the Midlands. Records relating to applications for payments from the Fund are in HLG 132 : they include files and plans created by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (later by the Department of the Environment).
Responsibility for mineral workings in Development Areas fell to the Board of Trade Distribution of Industry and Regionalisation Division, files of which are in BT 177 .
7. Records in The National Archives: pre-1850
The Domesday Book mentions mining activities in twelve counties, and from the twelfth century onward mines and quarries are recorded in a wide range of records.
Many mines and quarries were on land owned by the Crown, the Duchy of Lancaster or the Duchy of Cornwall, and numerous references to these (and some to mines and quarries in private ownership) may be found in the main series of administrative and legal records preserved in The National Archives. These include the Chancery close rolls and patent rolls (C 54 and C 66 respectively) and the Exchequer and Chancery inquisitions post mortem (E 149 and C 132 –141 ). Other series of Exchequer records which may contain relevant material (particularly on the stannaries of Devon and Cornwall) are the accounts various (E 101 ), bills and answers (E 112), depositions (E 134), parliamentary surveys (E 317), pipe rolls (E 372) and foreign accounts (E 364 ). Rentals and surveys (SC 11 , SC 12 ) and ministers' accounts (SC 6 ) may also be worth searching.
In 1554, the Auditors of the Land Revenues took over from the Court of Augmentations the responsibility for managing the Crown lands. From 1625 they worked in conjunction with the Surveyor General of Land Revenues, whose task it was to survey and value royal estates. Between 1810 and 1924 these functions were carried out by the Commissioners of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues, and subsequently by the Commissioners of Crown Lands (1925-1956) and the Crown Estate Commissioners. References to royal mines appear in the Land Revenue receivers' accounts (LR 6 and LR 12 with indexes in IND 1/7655 and IND 1/7656 ), enrolment books of grants, leases etc (LR 1 with indexes in IND 1/7629- 7649 ), and accounts, vouchers (LR 5 ).
Many series of records formerly deposited in the Land Revenue Record Office are likely to be worth searching, particularly maps and plans (LRRO 1 ), accounts various (LRRO 3 ), deeds and evidences (LRRO 5 ), rentals (LRRO 12 ) and miscellanea (LRRO 37 ). It should be noted that rentals relating to 'mines' (including iron, tin and fireclay mines, and stone quarries) are accounted separately. LRRO 3/84 , for example, is a set of accounts relating to Yorkshire lead mines, 1697-1831.
Among the records of the Crown Estate Commissioners, CRES 55 contains registered files relating to royal gold and silver mines. Other potentially fruitful series are the unfiled correspondence and papers (CRES 2 ), Treasury report books (CRES 9 ), Foreshores letter books (CRES 10 ), Wales letter books (CRES 15 ), reports of commissioners of inquiry (CRES 28 ), registered files relating to old estates (CRES 34 ) and more modern registered files relating to estates (CRES 35 ), general files (CRES 36 ), title deeds (CRES 38 ), surveys (CRES 39 ) and miscellaneous books (CRES 40 ).
State Papers Domestic (SP 10 to SP 29 ), early Home Office papers and Treasury Board papers (T 1 ) are often a good starting-point. For all these series of records, use the indexes to the printed Calendars to help you identify relevant papers. Material on ironstone mining and stone quarrying in the Forest of Dean may be found among the records of the Forestry Commission (F 3 , F 16 , F 17 , F 26 ). References to mining may also be found among the records of the Palatinate of Durham in DURH 3 ; of the Palatinate of Lancaster in PL 2 , PL 3 , PL 4 and PL 5 ; and of the Duchy of Lancaster in DL 14 , DL 25 , DL 37 , DL 39 , DL 41 , DL 34 , DL 44 .
8. Records about individual mines, quarries and companies
Information about individual mines and quarries can sometimes be found at The National Archives, but in general local record offices are likely to be a much more fruitful source.
In 1716, the forfeited estates of Lord Derwentwater were added to the endowments of Greenwich Hospital. These estates (the 'Northern Estate') covered vast areas of land in Cumberland, Northumberland and County Durham. The records of the Hospital relating to these lands include many references to mines and minerals: see especially ADM 75 for deeds; ADM 79 for plans, reports, rent rolls and other estate records; ADM 169 for registered files.
References to individual mines and quarries may occasionally be found in the correspondence and papers of the Home Office: from 1782-1820, these are in HO 42 ; from 1820-1861 in HO 44 (with registers in HO 46 ); and from 1841 onwards in HO 45 (with registers in HO 46 ). Home Office out-letters relating to mines and quarries, 1873-1920, are in POWE 4; and registered files on mines and quarries, 1887-1920, are in POWE 6 .
The Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Acts 1923 and 1925 gave the Railway and Canal Commissioners certain powers to grant colliery and other mining undertakings the right to search for, and work, minerals. Applications and Orders to curtail or halt mining activities under these acts are in J 75 . A number of files relating to issues arising out of the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act 1923, including applications to work minerals and non-metalliferous deposits, are in POWE 22 .
The Companies Registration Office files on dissolved mining and quarrying companies are in BT 31 . Similar files relating to joint stock companies are in BT 41 . The files in BT 31 and BT 41 normally contain only the formal records required to be deposited with the Companies Registration Office (articles of incorporation, lists of shareholders, etc) and not the records of the companies themselves. High Court files relating to companies winding-up proceedings are in J 13 . All these series can be searched in the Catalogue by company name.
The Mines Department published lists of all quarries and mines in the United Kingdom, their owners, and the metals or other substances they produced. Copies of these lists for 1937-1938 are available in The National Archives' Library.
Some information about individual mines can be found in the British Transport Historical Records (RAIL record series), a card index to which is available at The National Archives. These records include references to mines, mineral workings, statistics, mining accident reports, the provision of transport for mines etc. The BTHR card index, on open access at The National Archives, gives references under the headings 'Mines' and 'Minerals'. Records relating to Meldon quarry which were accumulated by British Transport Commission and, after 1962, British Railways Board are in AN 210 .
The National Archives does not hold mining or quarrying personnel records. Information about individual miners and other staff, if it survives, is more likely to be found in records deposited in local record offices.
9. Plans of Mines and Quarries
The National Archives holds many maps which predate the first legal requirement to make plans of mines. Early examples include 16th-century maps showing open-cast mines.
Roger J P Kain, The tithe maps of England and Wales: a cartographic analysis and county-by-county catalogue (Cambridge, 1995), available in the Map Room at The National Archives, indicates when pits, shafts etc are shown on tithe maps (IR 30 ), but it should be noted that it usually only the surface entrance which is shown, not the underground workings. Other maps are likely to be found in the records of the Crown Estate (CRES ). A few plans of mines and quarries on Crown lands are among the records of the Land Revenue Record Office in LRRO 1 (many now in MPE 1 , MPEE 1 or MR 1 ). The Home Office files in HO 45 include a few plans of abandoned mines.
The Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act 1872 required owners to deposit plans of abandoned mines with the Home Secretary. This requirement applied to mines of all description except coal (for which legal obligation already existed under the Coal Mines Inspection Act 1850), stratified ironstone, shale and firestone. Salt mines were also excluded. Catalogues of the plans deposited under the 1872 Act were published in the 1920s by HMSO.
No obligation to deposit plans of working mines existed until the Mines and Quarries Act 1954 made statutory provision for preserving plans of working mines. Plans deposited under this and earlier statutes were held by the Mining Record Office until they were distributed to local record offices in the 1990s. Enquiries concerning them should now be directed to the appropriate local record office.
In this context, the term 'royalty' normally means 'a payment made to the landowner by the lessee of a mine in return for the privilege of working it' (Oxford English Dictionary). The landowner's royalty was typically 1/8th of production, but the amount of royalty payable did not necessarily bear any relation to the yield or productivity of the mine or quarry.
For Mines Department and Ministry of Fuel and Power files relating to royalties, see POWE 16 , POWE 22 and POWE 26 , and for the papers of the Mining Royalties Committee (1925), chaired by Winston Churchill, see CAB 27/286 .
11. Mineral Rights Duties
Records about the mineral rights duties on land which were created by the Finance (1909-10) Act 1910 and levied until 1967 are in IR 40 , IR 75 and IR 83 . The duties were assessed by the Valuation Office and collected by the Board of Inland Revenue. A few of the field books in IR 58 which were made in the course of the Valuation Office survey following the 1910 Act contain descriptions of lands subject to mineral rights duty. They can be identified in the Catalogue by the existence of the prefix M before the hereditament numbers. Some records relating to appeals to the High Court under the terms of the Act are in E 186 . The documents include petitions of appeal against decisions of the referee appointed to hear complaints, his decisions in the form of awards or orders, notices of appeal from his decision to the Court of Appeal, and subsequent judgements by the Court of Appeal. For more general information about records created under the Finance (1909-10) Act 1910, see The National Archives' Research Guide Valuation Office Records: The Finance (1909-1910) Act.
12. Health and Safety, and Industrial Diseases
Reports of inspectors of mines for 1851-1852 are in HO 87/53 , and for 1850-1968 in POWE 7 . Many such reports were printed as Parliamentary Papers (available online at The National Archives). Letters to inspectors of mines, 1855-1871, are in HO 95 . Records of the Mines and Quarries Inspectorate, 1884-1947, and of the Health Advisory Committee are in POWE 8 (code 11 in the paper series lists). Correspondence and papers of the Mines Inspectorate, 1887-1928, are in POWE 10 (code 7 in the paper series lists). Records about the relationship between mines inspectors and the Mines Department and successor bodies, 1899-1955, are in LAB 15/22 .
Registered files of the Safety and Health Division are in POWE 75 . Records of the Safety in Mines Research Board/Establishment are in POWE 10 (code 12 in the paper series list) and POWE 25 (code 4 in the paper series list). LAB 14 , LAB 15 and LAB 26 contain papers relating to health, safety and welfare and to the Factory Inspectorate, reflecting the powers of the Ministry of Labour in these areas. LAB 15/22 -25 document the relationship between mines inspectors and the Mines Department. Records of the Health and Safety Commission and Executive (Explosions Inspectorate) relating to mines are in EF 2 and EF 4 .
Workmen's compensation for industrial diseases was administered by the Home Office until 1947 and then by the Ministry of National Insurance and its successors. Correspondence on workmen's compensation is in PIN 12 and POWE 26 , entry books are in HO 157 , bill papers in PIN 11 , and registers of industrial diseases in LAB 56 . Registered files of the Medical Department of the Ministry of National Insurance are in PIN 39 . PIN 900 contains a sample of papers of the Pneumoconiosis Medical Panel and the Byssinosis Medical Scheme.
The records of the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office in particular are rich in material relating to the exploitation of minerals overseas such as bauxite in South America, gold in West Africa and diamonds in South Africa. Many of these references must be identified using the departments' own registers and indexes. For more guidance on using the records of the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office, see The National Archives' Research Guides Researching British Colonies and Dominions and Foreign Office Records from 1782.
14. Other Sources in The National Archives
The Geological Survey was founded in 1835 to promote the science of geology. Its functions include the making of maps and surveys, and the conservation of rocks and minerals allowing for their industrial exploitation. Papers of the Geological Survey Board which controlled its operations are in DSIR 9 . Some surviving records of the Geological Survey are in DSIR 9/52 , ED 23 and ED 24 , but the majority are held by the British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG.
LCO 55 includes a few papers relating to the use of glebe land for other purposes such as quarrying.
Welsh Office registered files in BD 25 include material on mining and quarrying in Wales.
The correspondence and papers of a number of research boards and committees with connections with the mining industry are among the records transferred by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Records of the Copper and Zinc Research Committee and the Mine Rescue Research Committee are in DSIR 3 . Records of Industrial Research Associations, including the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association, are in DSIR 16 . Papers of the Standing Conference on Lighting in Mines are in DSIR 20 . Records of the Building Research Station are in DSIR 4 .
15. Further information
For information about coal-mines, see The National Archives' Research Guide Coal-Mining Records in The National Archives.
A particularly useful website is that of the Durham Mining Museum, which provides information about individual mines, dates of operation, names of managers and other senior staff, the geology of mineshafts, accidents (including names of those killed), and much more - see www.dmm.org.uk/mindex.htm. For Scotland, see the website of the Scottish Mining Museum at www.scottishminingmuseum.com.
(ri2171) Last updated: 13 February 2007 | © Crown Copyright 2005
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