Europe / Middle East / Africa
Cumbrian mining legend's mineral collection bought by Kendal Museum
Apr, 30 2012
KENDAL Museum has pulled off a real coup and landed one of the finest collections of mining minerals in the UK.
The important Bill Shaw mineral collection has been bought by the forward-thinking Kendal Museum from the Keswick Mining Museum, through private donations, an Arts Council England grant of £3,000 (match funded) and sponsorship from Hanson HeidelbergCement group.
The collection contains numerous specimens that are local to Cumbria. It includes important copper minerals from Coniston Copper Mine, specimens from Force Crag Lead/Barite Mine, near Braithwaite and rare minerals from Fleetwith Mine, close to Buttermere, that include Azurite and Hornblende.
Kendal Museum - these days managed by Kendal College - has the most comprehensive mineral mining collection in the north of the UK and researchers, educational centres and the general public travel from far and wide to see its geology displays and collections.
The museum’s Natural History curator Carol Davies said they were thrilled to acquire the collection.
“Bill Shaw was a remarkable man, and his collection represents a time of mineral collecting that will never be seen again, “ explained Carol.
“It is a rare privilege to acquire a complete historic collection such as this, and in such beautiful condition. I can’t wait to share these treasures with our museum visitors.”
Carol pointed out that Bill’s collection was an ideal addition to the museum’s John Hamer Cumbrian mineral collection, acquired in 2004.
Bill Shaw was regarded as the most important mining engineer in Cumbria during the 20th Century and descended from five generations of miners. He hailed from Rollinson Ground, Coniston, and worked first, as a boy, in his father's quarry at Hall Garth. Later, when a young man, he worked in the copper at Coniston alongside the Hellens family where he learned his craft at the face. He studied at the Glasgow Mining Office for four years before going to Greenside Mine as an apprentice; leaving as a qualified mining engineer.
He then went to Halkyn in North Wales and on to Levant in Cornwall.
Prior to the war he worked at Hartsop Hall Lead Mine. In 1940 he worked with his father again at Caudale Quarries. He then applied to rework the Newlands Mine at Longwork in 1942. This venture failed on planning grounds after which, in 1946, he took an interest in the Barlocco Baryte Mine in Dumfriesshire. In 1954 Bill returned to Coniston Copper Mines where he drove the Shaw's Crosscut.
Later he went back to work in North Wales at the Halkyn mines.
Returning to the Lakes in 1958, he became mining superintendent with McKechnies of Widnes where he managed Sandbeds and Potts Gill Baryte Mines on the Caldbeck Fells. He went on to Force Crag and when the McKechnies left, Bill took up the lease - and his last mining venture. He lived at Chestnut Hill in Keswick and during his retirement, wrote Mining in the Lake Counties. He died in 1977. However, some of his papers are held in Carlisle Archive - other items have simply disappeared.
Kendal Museum is open Wednesday to Saturday, 10.30am-5pm.
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