Shaft is a 3.6m diameter concrete lined shaft which goes down to the Nent Force
Level and Rampgill Deep Level. From the surface it is 100m deep and from the
side access on Rampgill Horse Level it is 78m deep. Originally the shaft was
know as the Deep Sump, and its name changed to the current one after the London
Lead Company purchased the land that it was located on from the Alston Brewery
The shaft originally was used for access to the Nent Force
Level and for driving the Rampgill Deep Level (also known as the Admiralty Low
Level). When the Vieille Montagne Zinc Company acquired the Nenthead Mine
leases from the Nenthead and Tynedale Company the shaft ended up being used to
create compressed air for driving drilling and winching machinery, pumping and
ventilation. Part of the water was also used to generate electricity. At the
bottom there are compressors, generators, air receivers and many
The compressed air and electricity was generated by using
water power, the whole scheme being introduced by the Belgium Vieille Montagne
Zinc Company in the early 1900's. The two water reservoirs in the Nent Valley
(Perry's and Handsome Mea, also known as Smallcleugh) along with a third one
near Coalcleugh provided the water which travelled in large diameter pipes to
the Brewery Shaft top. Here the water travelled up a tower 27m high, and then
it dropped down the shaft. The purpose of the tower was to introduce air into
the water stream before it continued down the pipes to the shaft bottom. The
water travelled in two 23cm pipes down to the bottom of the shaft into a air
receiver. The air receiver separated the air / water mixture and created the
compression of the air. The water out flow from the receiver returned up the
shaft in a 30cm pipe into a collection tank located on the Rampgill Horse
Level. From the tank it returned via a 23cm pipe back down the shaft driving a
102cm diameter pelton turbine which in turn via gear boxes drove two
There is also a 10cm water feed pipe from the surface
collection tank which was used to drive a twin pelton wheel electricity
generator. The power output was 8KW at 230VAC and the electricity was used to
power the company offices and reportedly also some street lighting in Nenthead.
The waste water from the generator and pelton compressors was fed into the Nent
Force Level to drain away in Alston some 5 miles away.
At long last we get down to have a look the easy way.
(Karli, Karl, and Mike), 4th December 2005.
Water Level and
Looking at the water level half way down and surveying the
distance to the fall, courtesy of WMRG.
(Anne, Eddy, John, Lyndon, Mike,
Paul, Peter, and Sally), 8/9th November 2008.