Travel: Britain - an Underground Experience Second to None ; BRITAIN'S MINING MUSEUMS ARE HISTORICAL TREASURE TROVES JUST WAITING TO BE DISCOVERED
Culliford, Alison, The Independent (London, England)
IT CAN come as a surprise to learn that the wild and lonely places we treasure today were teeming with people a century or two ago.
In 1794 the little parish of Caldbeck in the Lake District - these days two small villages with about four pubs between them - had 12 pubs and 10 ale houses, as well as 13 shoemakers, four cloggers, 54 miners, 11 blacksmiths, 12 tailors, and one apothecary.
One of the reasons for the depopulation was the closing of mines and quarries after cheaper sources of metalswere found abroad. But man has certainly left his mark on this landscape - and with a keen eye, you can spot it.
Ian Tyler has that attribute. A Lancashireman, he set himself the task of walking all the fells in Cumbria. It took him 10 years, winter and summer. On his walks he noticed the evidence of mining all over the landscape, and started building up a collection of artefacts. Now he and his wife Jean run Threlkeld Mining Museum in the Lake District National Park.
The Tylers' museum is a labour of love. Ian's dogged determination continued with 20 years of research, chipping away, bit by bit, into the Lake District's secret history. And the Tylers don't have a television; they spend their evenings writing books on the history of mining.
Follow the sign up and up and up, past what looks like a load of old diggers (a unique collection of earth-moving excavators from the Thirties and Forties) and into a prefab, and here you will find the moving story of the miners, told in artefacts, words and photographs.
Working in pitch darkness by the light of a tallow candle, these men grafted, day-in and day-out. Women are pictured washing coal at one of the West coast collieries in 1900 and there are portraits of the quarry men and boys (some as young as six) whose job it was to open the ventilation doors. …