Lead mining flourished around here in the 18th and 19th centuries, and one third of a mile south of Sheldon stands the Magpie Mine. It is now scheduled as an ancient monument, and is the most complete example of a lead mine remaining in the Peak District. It is about 1050 feet above sea level. Footpaths approach it both from Sheldon and the Monyash to Ashford-in-the-Water road. Members of the public may visit it for external inspection at any reasonable time.
Magpie Mine has a recorded history from 1739, but dates back much further and is said locally to be over 300 years old. Protracted troubles broke out in the 1820s and 1830s between the miners of Magpie, Maypitts and Red Soil mines. The dispute revolved around a vein of lead, and at various times the miners broke through into each others workings. Often when this occured one side would light a fire underground and try to smoke the other out. Tragically, in 1833, three Red Soil miners were suffocated to death by a fire lit by the Magpie miners.
Following a year in prison and a lengthy court case at Derby Assizes, five Magpie miners were acquitted of the charge of murder owing to conflicting evidence and the lack of intent. The three widows of the Red Soil miners reputedly put a curse on the mine and, supposedly, a ghost was seen there in 1946.
In 1842, there were two deaths at the Magpie Mine and during the next 50 years the mine was dogged by problems caused by flooding and fire. In 1880, the company operating the mine even changed its name to the Magpie Mining Company, probably in the hope of ridding itself of the curse!
After a period of inactivity, several attempts were made to revive the mine, the last in the1950s. However, in 1958, the constant battle with flooding and falling prices forced the closure of the mine. The mine now receives far more visitors than anticipated in 1962, when the tenancy of the Magpie Mine Cottage was taken over as a Field Centre, by the Peak District Mines Historical Society. There is usually someone present at the mine at weekends to provide visitors with information, and it is open to the public during the Heritage Weekend, in September. Further information regarding the mine may be obtained from the Peak District Mining Museum at Matlock Bath
The guards look well bred or is that in bred !.