British Classic Mineral Specimens

Mottram mine, in Cheshire

I was living in Cheshire, almost on top of the Alderley Edge mines.

In the evenings, and weekends we dug, many holes - all over the place. It was a great life - Derbyshire Caving Club did a lot of work there, and I joined up with their band of merry diggers - Steve Mills and Nigel Dibben and others. Wile I was living there, I found an old shaft in the village of Mottram. I collected some black gungy material from the shaft, and it wasnt until months later that Dick saw it and had it X-Rayed. It was mottramite - the rest, they say, is history..

Mottram was a first. There arent many folks who have had a discovery of a mine, and mineral, that really wasnt in existence at the time - if you get my drift - the type locality was Mottram, but the material that made the discovery wasnt from there. To go back later and find the material - not quite type locality stuff, but quite good, nevertheless. I still havent written the definitive paper on this - several other people, including academics from museums in Manchester, have claimed to have been there and 'Done' the locality - funny how they always try to claim the limelight, even when they weren't there, and know bugger all about the place, the discovery, or its history.

We found all sorts of stuff at Alderley. The photo shows Steve Mills on the windlass at Stump Shaft - a dig near Wood mine that led into the Hough level. We built a brick shaft and dug out the bottom. Engine Vein was a great spot - I had a JCB there on the farm. Richard, the National Trust Warden asked me to do some work on the footpaths on the Edge. I just looked at him for a while - he grinned, and said - if you happen to stray off the path onto a mine - well, you weren't to know! So I ended up digging all sorts of nice things off the top of Engine Vein and Stormy Point with a JCB. We had a lot of fun there - found some superb wulfenite crystals which I still have, together with native mercury - and over the hill, the West Mine - was a constant source of amusement - Paul Sorensen, the owner, was fantastic. I went down one day and came back clutching the best Tyrolite specimen found in the British Isles. Presently languishing in the Natural History Museum along with the rest of the stuff I found at Alderley, while they find time to work on it. Whatever happened to Dick Barstow!! Help Dick...!

While I was in Alderley, Ike got really interested in Greece, and we used to take off to Greece for a while - Laurium - great spot - Warm sun, nice girls, nice mines, nice holes to go down, and nice specimens. We took off for Athens one day - Laurium, Kamareza - Serpieri Shaft... Met a lovely girl in the hotel, Ozzie - but mum was watching us.. so we couldn't get up to much. The mines were great - found loads of specimens - a vein of Cabrerite - lovely pieces, and went underground with one of the miners to collect bits and bobs. Bought pieces too. It was a fun time - very relaxing - wine, lovely Greek food, ouzo, and a few ruins thrown in for good measure..