IN 1979 a small format, 144 page publication by Chris Carlton on Alderley Edge Mines brought, for the first time, coverage of this area of Cheshire to readers who wished to learn more about its copper mining. The presentation was by today’s standards somewhat basic, being in black and white, but the comprehensive content – complete with maps and surveys – meant that The Alderley Edge Mines became an instant classic that long ago went out of print.
It is therefore a distinct pleasure to find that Nigel Dibben has updated Chris’s text and published a second edition. Both the format and pagination have increased, and the extensive use of colour on new area maps showing the underground workings in context alongside reprinted versions of the original surveys brings this volume to life. Whereas the original images were printed in monochrome, the new colour photographs work to good effect so that the bright blues of copper and rich red mud are now striking.
The book is divided into ten sections, covering geology and history as well as individual areas: the West and Wood mines, the Engine Vein, Cobalt Mine, Mottram Mine and a miscellany of minor sites. Nigel then moves to modern access by mining enthusiasts, myths and legends and six appendices: recorded minerals, production figures, which mines worked during historic periods, a chronology, biographies (always interesting) and, finally, useful contacts. The references and index are extensive.
It is obvious that a huge amount of work has been put into this new edition, with extensive rewrites and additions based on more recent exploration and research, particularly noted in the historical data. The whole book has been restructured and relaid so that photos are incorporated into the text (rather than appearing as plates); where geological terms have changed, these have been updated; where relevant, imperial measurements have been converted to metric and three of the appendices are new. This is properly a new edition rather than (as sometimes happens) taking the old text and tacking on a new bit at the end.
Copies of The Alderley Edge Mines are available direct from Nigel for £12 plus £2.50 p&p – see: www.dibben.org.uk for further details.