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Sir Francis Level, Gunnerside, Swaledale, Yorkshire.

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Sir Francis Level was first started in 1864 to reach lead deposits in the Frairfold Vein. It was originally driven with hand drilled shot holes and black powder. To speed up the process in 1870 Sir George Denys (the level was named after his son) introduced compressed air drilling machinery, which also provided ventilation for the miners and stopped the need for airshafts. This was the first time such new technology was utilised in a Yorkshire mine. A water wheel and air receiver housed in a building near the portal generated the compressed air. The air receiver can still be seen today.

A shaft almost 1.4Km distance from the portal was sunk to test the vein at deeper horizons. Here cages, winding gear and hydraulic engines can still be found in a very good state of preservation. The system was designed by Henry Davy and installed in 1879. The water to drive the engine was taken from dams on the surface. Mining was carried out until the late1880's, but was never commercially successful.

The level is open all the way to the engine room, but access is via an airshaft located further up the valley, as there has been a collapse near the entrance. As a result of this, the water is backed up and can reach depths of 1.5m depending on what time of year it is.

Sir Francis Level Surface Features

Views of the landscape and buildings around the level.

Updated 16th March 2008.

The Engine Chamber

A long trudge in deep water to see the amazingly preserved engine room and fittings.

(Mike, Roger, Simon, Tony and Wendy), 16th March 2008