Blue John Mine & Eyam


Trips & Adventures – 15 August 2019

A picture is worth a thousand words” is an English language adage. It refers to the notion that some complex ideas can be conveyed with just a single picture, this picture conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does.

So head off to see the fantastic photos here (but press the back key to come back here!)

Our trip was to see the Blue John cavern, one of four show caves in Castleton, Derbyshire. The cavern takes its name from the semi-precious mineral Blue John, which is still mined in small amounts outside the tourist season and made locally into jewellery. The deposit itself is about 250 million years old.

The miners who work the remaining seams are also the guides for underground public tours. The eight working seams are known as Twelve Vein, Old Dining Room, Bull Beef, New Dining Room, Five Vein, Organ Room, New Cavern and Landscape.

In 1865, Blue John Cavern was the site of the first use of magnesium to light a photograph underground. It was taken by Manchester photographer Alfred Brothers.

Eleven of us ventured into the mine down 300 feet below the ground, through a number of caverns. None of us counted the 245 steps down (and 245 steps up again) as we were too busy gripping the handrail and concentrating on our footing. Walter took a tumble but thankfully no broken bones.

Our minibus then took us to Eyam, known as “the plague village”, in reference to how it chose to isolate itself after bubonic plague was discovered there, so as to prevent the infection spreading.

The history of the plague in the village began in 1665 when a flea-infested bundle of cloth arrived from London for the local tailor. Within a week his assistant George Vicars was dead and more began dying in the household soon after. As the disease spread, the villagers turned for leadership to their rector, the Reverend William Mompesson, and the Puritan Minister Thomas Stanley. These introduced a number of precautions to slow the spread of the illness from May 1666. They included the arrangement that families were to bury their own dead and relocation of church services to the natural amphitheatre of Cucklett Delph, allowing villagers to separate themselves and so reducing the risk of infection. Perhaps the best-known decision was to quarantine the entire village to prevent further spread of the disease.

The plague ran its course over 14 months and the church in Eyam has a record of 273 individuals who were victims of the plague.

We must mention Eyam Tea Rooms where we enjoyed nut roast, quiches, hominy pies and salads – the food was fantastic.

One thought on “Blue John Mine & Eyam

  1. It sounds like a great trip, sorry I missed it. Rose Cottage reminds me of the nursery rhyme “ring a ring a roses. a pocket full of posies” which of course refers to the Black Death. Pauline xxx


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