Washing floor

From very early days ore dressing has relied on water. The principle is very simple, because the lead ore - Galena is heavier than the other minerals when it is agitated in water it will settle to the bottom. The devices at Killhope where very primitive and relied heavily on manual labour. Rock and ore were broken up with flat hammers (“buckers”) and the broken mixture put in a sieve and shaken up and down by hand in a tub of water, tedious and back¬breaking work. Things improved a little with the advent of the “hotching tub”. Here the sieve was suspended from a long pole which was jerked up and down by the washerboy, thus jerking the sieve up and down in the water.

washing 3
washing HOSC 1 washing 2

Children from 10 upwards worked on the washing floor breaking up the Bouse with Buckers to release the galena from within. They worked in all weather with only drought, snow and ice stopping the work. Killhope is 460m 1500ft above sea level with winds that often blow the rain horizontally so the wind breaks similar to the above and others covered with brushwood where the only devices they had to protect themselves with while they worked. The average rainfall at Killhope was 63inches (1600mm) compared to 28 in (700mm) in Durham

Dolly tubs where used as a last device to remove galena particles from the slimes

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