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The Linares Lead Mining District: The English Connection


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The paper provides detail of the mining operations of Thomas Sopwith jnr., and John Taylor and Sons, at Linares Spain -- 1849 to 1910
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During the 19th century the Linares lead mining area in the Spanish Province of Jaén was one of the largest lead
producers in the world. The success of Linares as a lead producer must in part be attributed to the English lead min-
ing companies that settled there from 1849 onwards, including the Linares Lead Mining, La Fortuna and Alamillos
Companies set up by John Taylor and Sons, the London based firm of mining consultants, and the Spanish Lead Com-
pany, an enterprise managed by Thomas Sopwith junior. These companies brought with them new technology and
introduced Cornish designed steam engines for winding and pumping, equipment that would be taken up later by
Spanish Companies, including the Arrayanes mine owned by the Spanish Government. During the latter half of the
19th century the population of Linares grew to embrace this ever demanding industry and the English community was
represented by a British Vice-Consulate, one of the few opened in the interior of Spain. Today this industry is rep-
resented by a unique mining landscape, dotted with engine houses and chimneys and more intimate mining features,
many constructed by English companies. There is also a small well-maintained English cemetery containing the
graves of many associated with the mining, and who sometimes died in tragic mining accidents. The Colectivo
Proyecto Arrayanes, was formed in the 1990s at Linares to raise public awareness of the rich mining heritage of the
area by producing publications, giving conducted walks and talks about the mines. In addition there is now a very
informative mining interpretation centre in the town, representing an industry that made Linares prosperous.
KEY WORDS: Alamillos, English mining companies, La Fortuna, Linares Lead Mining, Sopwith.
Durante el siglo XIX, el distrito minero de Linares fue uno de los mayores productores de plomo del mundo. Este
éxito debe ser en parte atribuido a las empresas mineras inglesas que se establecieron allí a partir de 1849, entre
ellas la Linares Lead Mining, La Fortuna y Alamillos, establecidas por John Taylor e Hijos, una empresa minera con
base en Londres, y la Spanish Lead Company, una empresa dirigida por Thomas Sopwith hijo. Estas empresas traje-
ron consigo nuevas tecnologías e introdujeron la tecnología de bombeo Cornish, adoptada posteriormente por
empresas españolas, como la mina Arrayanes del Gobierno español. Durante la segunda mitad del siglo XIX, la
población de Linares creció para asumir esta demanda industrial y la comunidad inglesa estuvo representada por
un Viceconsulado británico, uno de los pocos abiertos dentro de España. Actualmente esta industria se encuentra
representada por un paisaje minero único, con diferentes chimeneas y edificios mineros, muchos de ellos construi-
dos por empresas inglesas. Existe incluso un pequeño cementerio británico, muy bien conservado, con sepulturas
de muchas personas relacionadas con la minería, habiendo falleciendo algunos de ellos trágicamente en acciden-
tes mineros. El Colectivo Proyecto Arrayanes se fundó en los años 90 del siglo pasado para llamar la atención sobre
el rico patrimonio minero del área a través de publicaciones, itinerarios guiados por la zona y conferencias. Ade-
más de ello, existe actualmente un centro de interpretación de la minería en Linares, que pone de manifiesto y
divulga de una forma excepcional este rico patrimonio minero.
PALABRAS CLAVE: Alamillos, empresas mineras inglesas, La Fortuna, distrito minero de Linares, Sopwith.
De Re Metallica, 13, 2009 pp. 1-10
© Sociedad Española para la Defensa del Patrimonio Geológico y Minero
ISSN: 1577-9033
Robert Vernon
2, Grange Field Road, Bredon, Tewkesbury GL20 7AZ, United Kingdom.
Honorary Member, Colectivo Proyecto Arrayanes, Linares, Spain.
“From morning until night you hear nothing, see noth-
ing, but lead: lead at the railway station, lead-smoke in
the air from the smelting works, lead on the donkeys’
backs: lead in pigs, in sheets, lead of the first or second
quality. Lead and money, varied by money and lead, it
is depressing alike to soul and body; and, gentle reader,
remember there is a proverb among us, ‘Andar con pies de
plomo’ (to proceed with leaden feet); and a disease
among us which is called “being leaded,” and makes a
man’s eye dull, and his brain sleepy.” This is how the
De Re Metallica 13 julio–diciembre 2009 2ª época 1
De Re Metallica 13 julio–diciembre 2009 2ª época
Reverend Hugh James Rose, Chaplain to the British, French
and German communities at Linares, described the signif-
icance of lead to Linares in 1875 (Rose, 1875, 112-113).
In the 19th Century the lead mines of Linares, located in
the Province of Jaén, on the north side of the Autonomous
Region of Andalucía, Spain, were significant lead produc-
ers (See Figure 1). The Linares lead mines, together with
those mines around the town of la Carolina, 20 kilometres
to the north, are now regarded as forming one of the
classic lead mining areas of the world. Linares is also well
known to mineralogists as the type-locality for the lead
mineral, Linarite, a combined copper lead sulphate hy-
droxide [PbCuSO4(OH)2].
It is apparent from mining records that until the 1850s
there was very little significant mining
interest in the area. Mining operations
were generally small and superficial,
and many of those operations were
abandoned once mine water became a
problem. When British mining compa-
nies first came to Linares in 1849, they
introduced steam winding and pumping
engines, and other well established min-
ing technology and practices, that were
soon taken up by the indigenous Spanish
companies. Figure 2 shows the general
arrangements of a Cornish pumping en-
Some 60 years later, the English min-
ing companies left Linares leaving an ex-
tensive legacy. Now Linares is once again
famous for the numerous mining remains
that dot the landscape, many associated
with those English companies.
The geology and the mineralisation
of the Linares area are relatively sim-
ple to describe. A granite pluton devel-
oped in the Carboniferous period (359
to 299 million years ago). The granite
was subsequently fractured and fault-
ed, and was mineralised later in the Car-
boniferous period. The resulting miner-
al veins contain predominantly lead
minerals. During the Permian (299 to
251 million years ago), the granite was
eroded and reddish sandstone and con-
glomerate were deposited on top of the
granite that frequently erodes down to a
thin capping layer. Further faulting then
took place that displaced both the Per-
mian strata and the underlying granite
and mineral veins. Later, sedimentary
deposits were laid down in the Miocene
(23 to 5.3 million years ago) and those
are relatively undisturbed (Vázquez
Guzmán, 1989, 117-120).
Figure 1. Spain: The Autonomous Region of Andalucía and the location of
Linares in Jaén Province.
Figure 2. A Cornish beam-engine house showing the engine in position. In simplistic terms, a piston
inside the cylinder is moved by a combination of steam and atmospheric pressure. This, in turn, pulls
the end of the beam down inside the engine house. If the other end of the beam is attached to pump
rods in the shaft these are raised. On exhausting the cylinder, the pump rods are free to move down-
wards and it is this action that works the pumps in the shaft. Cylinders varied in size, and the engine
can also be used to work winding and dressing machinery (Davies, 1894, 98).
Piston Rod
Pump Rods in Shaft
The mineral veins have a general trend in a north-
north-west/south-south-east direction, sometimes splitting
and forming small lengths of parallel veining to the prin-
cipal veins (Pedro de Mesa y Alvarez 1890). The mineral
veins are relatively uniform in thickness, generally about
1m wide. The galena contains up to 75% to 78% lead and
between 160 to 250 grammes of silver per ton. The gangue
minerals are typically quartz and calcite with some barites
(Hereza and Alvarado, 1926, 35-36).
The mine workings were accessed by vertical shafts,
which were used for pumping mine water to the surface.
The shafts were also used for ventilation, and for winding
ore to the surface. At different levels in the shafts, hori-
zontal tunnels were driven out to access and work the
ore. Very few of the old workings are accessible today.
The English, however, were not the first to introduce
new technology to the area; the Romans worked lead
here some 2000 years earlier. When English companies
came to Linares, the existing workings were relatively
shallow and many of the mines had hardly been touched
since Roman times. Evidence of Roman activity was found
throughout the general area. These included shafts and
galleries that were intersected in the later workings, as
well as slag spreads from the smelting operations. Around
1900 a carved relief of Roman miners was discovered at
one of the mines and this has become synonymous with
Linares, and widely cited (Sandars, 1905, Plate LXIX).
English involvement with Linares seems to get it’s first
mention in archival material in the Cornwall Record Office
at Truro, where there is a list of mining equipment bear-
ing the name Linares and the date 1844 (CRO
DD/1/185/8). Headed Contract No.2 the equipment con-
sists of general items found in a mine and includes simple
items associated with winding ore, including kibbles, and
rudimentary ore washing equipment, suggesting at least
that there was intent to work mines there.
The little winding engine house at Pozo Briones (See
Figure 3) may well be one of the earliest winding engine
houses at Linares. Constructed from blocks of red Permi-
an sandstone, it once housed a small beam-engine, with a
cylinder of about 20 inches. A curved area of masonry on
the side of the engine house indicates where the winding
drum was located.
However, it was a Scotsman, Duncan Shaw, who first
brought the Linares area to prominence. He had previous-
ly been involved with the Guadalcanal Mining Association
formed in 1848 (National Archives, Kew BT41/279/1605),
to work the famous silver mines near Sevilla, but his atten-
tion soon turned towards Linares where he acquired the
lead mining concessions at Pozo Ancho. Shaw quickly re-
alised the potential of the area but the mines would need
capital investment to purchase pumping machinery to get
below the shallow workings, and open up the ore reserves.
So he approached John Taylor and Sons, the firm of mining
consultants, and they set up a company in London to raise
the necessary capital. The Linares Lead Mining Association
(National Archives, Kew, London. BT41/361/2049) was
De Re Metallica 13 julio–diciembre 2009 2ª época 3
Figure 3. Pozo Briones: Early winding engine house. It enclosed a small beam engine. The opening in the wall between the groups of people was for the drive
shaft to the winding drum that was located on the outside of the wall (Bob Barnes).
De Re Metallica 13 julio–diciembre 2009 2ª época
1850 TO 1859
The first mining concession acquired
at Pozo Ancho was Descuidada No’s 3
and 4, and this is where the first shaft
was developed (Guzmán, 1999, 122).
In 1850 the company had erected two
beam engines there with 30 inches di-
ameter cylinders for winding and pump-
ing. Initial work consisted of dewatering
and exploring the existing workings, but
very soon the company started to deep-
en the mine. Conforming to the British
tradition of naming shafts after com-
pany officials, instead of the Spanish
system of naming the shafts after the
concession, one of the new shafts was
named Shaw’s. By 1852 the Association
had become a formal registered Compa-
ny in London, and in 1856, to comply
with changes to British company law,
the name was changed to the Linares
Lead Mining Company Limited (Nation-
al Archives, Kew. BT31/858/816C). A
small dressing floor was soon estab-
lished, as well as a lead smelting plant.
The Company also started to explore
another mining concession that they re-
ferred to as Fortuna.
A photograph of Pozo Ancho mine,
probably dating from the late 1800s,
shows the houses for the two engines. A
larger Cornish-type pumping engine,
possibly 60 inches, had by then replaced
the 30 inches pumping engine. The
building in the centre of the photograph
is an ore-crushing house (See Figure 4).
Both engine houses survive today (See
Figure 5).
In 1855 John Taylor and Sons formed
a second mining company, La Fortuna
Limited (National Archives, Kew
BT31/175/524) to work concessions to
the northwest of Pozo Ancho. The com-
pany took up two mines; Cañada Incosa
and Los Salidos, and they continued to work both mines for
the remainder of the century.
Eventually La Fortuna was to have the only lead smelter
that Taylors operated in Linares. The small lead smelter at
Pozo Ancho was closed down and was re-established on the
northern outskirts of the city of Cordova. It was sited
there so that the furnaces could be fired with coal from
the Belmez coalfield to the north of Cordoba. Duncan
Shaw was made the manager of the Cordoba smelting
The success of the Linares Lead Mining Company at-
tracted other newly formed English companies to the area
including the Las Infantas Lead Mining Company Limited.
(1853 to 1855) (National Archives, Kew. BT41/345/1989),
and the New Linares Mining and Smelting Company Limit-
ed (1853 to 1855) (National Archives, Kew.
BT41/491/2718). The often controversial San Fernando
Silver-Lead Mining and Smelting Company (1854 to 1855)
however, was an Anglo-French company registered in Paris
and generally made inflated claims about the richness of
the vein etc. None of these companies were particularly
successful except for the San Roque Mining and Smelting
Company Limited (1859 to 1867) (National Archives, Kew.
BT41/618/3374) and did meet with some success.
1860 TO 1869
By 1860 both of Taylor’s companies had extended their
workings significantly. They were publishing progress re-
ports every two weeks in the Mining Journal, a British
Figure 4. Linares Lead Mining Company Ltd., Pozo Ancho mine. The photograph was taken towards the
end of the 19th Century. The house of the 30 inches winding engine is on the right of the photograph.
The engine house to the rear of it housed a pumping engine. There is a house for a set of roller crush-
ers in the centre of the photograph, possibly also worked by the winding engine. (Colectivo Proyecto
Figure 5. Linares Lead Mining Company Ltd., Pozo Ancho Mines, May 2009. The pumping engine house,
with the winding engine house in the background (Author).
mining newspaper, and had reached a situation where
both companies were annually holding two General Meet-
ings, and declaring two or three dividends a year.
John Taylor and Sons had formed a third company in
1862, the Alamillos Mining Company Limited (National
Archives, Kew. BT31/754/303C) to work a group of conces-
sions situated between Pozo Ancho and the La Fortuna
concessions, and like the other two Taylor’s Companies, it
would be very successful.
However, there was soon to be a second important
English influence in Linares. On a visit to Linares in 1863,
a young mining engineer, Thomas Sopwith junior identified
la Tortilla mine, 2 kilometres to the west of the town, as
being a good lead mining prospect. Sopwith had been
sponsored by Wentworth Blackett Beaumont, an English
peer who controlled important lead mines in northern
England, with a directive to visit some of the major lead
mining fields in Western Europe, and find potential lead
mining prospects. In 1864 the Spanish Lead Company Lim-
ited (National Archives, Kew. BT31/922/1133C) was
formed in London to work the La Tortilla mine and Thomas
Sopwith junior was appointed the mine manager. The first
two company directors were Sopwith junior’s father,
Thomas Sopwith senior, an eminent mining engineer who
was Beaumont’s mine agent in England. The second Direc-
tor, Warrington Smyth, was a renowned English mining
geologist, well acquainted with metal mining.
The diary of Thomas Sopwith senior describes the start
of the Company’s operations at la Tortilla. The first shaft
to be explored was named Camel Shaft because appar-
ently the previous mine owner had used a camel to wind
the ore there (Sopwith Snr. Diary 1864).
By 1870, Thomas Sopwith junior had constructed an
upper and lower dressing floor in the San Alonso conces-
sion. The upper floor used traditional ore-dressing meth-
ods, with the ore being tipped into hoppers before being
hand sorted and washed in a series of manually operated
hotching tubs, and mechanised buddles. The lower dress-
ing floors were completely mechanised and the German
manufactured ore-dressing plant was driven by a portable
steam engine (Sopwith Jnr, 1870, and Anon., 1871).
At the end of the 1870s a new pumping shaft was being
sunk at la Tortilla. The Palmerston Shaft was pumped by a
60 inches steam engine that was bought new from Corn-
wall (Anon., 1867). A photograph survives of the upper
dressing floors with the Palmerston pumping engine in
the background (See Figure 6).
The Angustias mine just to the north of La Tortilla was
another concession acquired by Sopwith. Sopwith’s diary
for April 1865 (p47) includes a sketch of the mineral vein
at Angustias (See Figure 7). The Baring engine shaft,
named after the Baring Bank, the company’s bankers,
De Re Metallica 13 julio–diciembre 2009 2ª época 5
Figure 6. Spanish Lead Company Ltd., La Tortilla Mine. The upper dressing floors. Hotching tubs for manual sorting of the ore were housed in the open shed, whilst
the floor below contains a round buddle, driven by a small waterwheel, and slime pits. The 60 inches engine for the Palmerston Shaft can be seen in the back-
ground. (Colectivo Proyecto Arrayanes).
Figure 7. This sketch of the mineral vein in one of the drivages at Las Angus-
tias mine is taken from Thomas Sopwith senior’s diary dated 1865. Whilst it
may not conform to modern standards of nomenclature, a likely interpretation
is that the 16 inches (41cm) on the left represents the hanging wall of the vein
composed of granite. The 20 inches (51cm) in the middle may consist of solid
galena (not uncommon) and the 15 inches (38cm) on the right is a mixture of
galena, gangue minerals and granite.
De Re Metallica 13 julio–diciembre 2009 2ª época
still has a substantial engine house on it (See Figure 8). In
addition Sopwiths were also becoming interested in anoth-
er mine at La Gitana to the north.
The locations of the John Taylors and Son’s conces-
sions and the sites of Sopwith’s mines can be seen in Fig-
ure 9.
1870 TO 1879
The Linares Lead Mining Company had acquired a sec-
ond group of concessions by the 1870s. It was located to
the northwest of La Fortuna, and was collectively known
as the Quinientos mine. The Quinientos workings would
eventually become very substantial as the mine abandon-
ment plan shows (Figure 10) and for a short period this
mine would provide much of the output for the Company.
About this time, Duncan Shaw made another appear-
ance at Linares when he tried to establish two mining
companies on the west side of the area, the Bailen Mining
Company Limited in 1873 (National Archives, Kew
BT31/1904/7723) and the Bailen Company Limited (Na-
tional Archives, Kew BT31/2143/9897) in 1875. Despite
both companies probably being supported by John Tay-
lor and Sons, neither company were particularly success-
ful and had very short lives.
By the mid-1870s all the English mining companies had
taken up further concessions and the Sopwiths had be-
come involved with the la Gitana mine (National Archives,
Kew BT31/2254/10756), located to the west of Quinientos.
The Gitana group of mines still boasts some fine mining re-
mains today like the masonry headframe on Pozo Rivero,
an unusual structure for the English companies, as they
usually preferred metal headframes (See Figure 11). In
1871, Sopwith was appointed the first British Vice-Consol
to be based at Linares where the first Consulate was at the
la Tortilla mine. Later the Consulate was moved into the
town and was finally closed in 1948.
John Taylor and Sons formed a fourth mining company
in 1878, Buena Ventura Limited (National Archives, Kew
BT31/2449/12456) to work concessions to the west of La
Gitana. Unlike the other three Taylor’s companies it would
only be of moderate success and survived until 1888.
1880 TO 1889
The Spanish Lead Mining Company was reformed in
1880 to become T. Sopwith and Company Limited (Na-
tional Archives, Kew BT31/2713/14627). It was at about
this time that a large smelting and lead processing works
was established at la Tortilla and this was extended in
1885 (Anon., 1885). The new lead works was built to the
north of the dressing-floors almost entirely in the El Con-
venio concession, an area that had been proved to be
poor in lead ore reserves some years previously. The smelt-
ing hearths were located on the west side of the com-
plex together with a lead de-silvering plant. The smelter
also contained equipment for producing lead shot, sheets
and piping. A substantial shot tower dominates the site to-
day (Figure 12) whilst to the north are the remains of a
complex zigzagging flue system which terminates at two
tall chimneys.
The la Tortilla mine was progressing well in a souther-
ly direction and further concessions named after Lord
Derby and Lord Salisbury (English Politicians) had been
acquired to achieve this. Two major pumping shafts, San
Federico and Santa Annie were sunk in the Lord Derby
concession and the houses for both engines still survive.
This area would ultimately be established to be the rich-
est part of the mine.
Elsewhere, the Linares Lead Mining Company worked
the Majada Honda mine between 1881 and 1883, on the
north side of the mining field. At la Fortuna and Alamillos
work progressed with few major changes, and their con-
cession holdings remained roughly the same throughout
the decade.
1890 TO 1899
About 1890, Sopwiths had acquired a further conces-
sion, Lord Stanley to the south of Lord Salisbury. La Tortilla
mine was still being developed in that direction and a
further shaft was proposed some distance to the south
of Santa Annie shaft. The new shaft would be called Victo-
However, it seems apparent from company reports that
ore reserves were diminishing as the mines got deeper.
This, coupled with falling lead prices brought about by
the world lead market becoming saturated by an increased
lead output from Australia, the financial situation was
starting to become difficult for some of the established
Figure 8. Spanish Lead Company Ltd., Las Angustias Mine. The Baring Shaft
engine house in 1978. (Author). Now the spoil has been removed and the area
has been planted with olive trees.
To replace the shortfall in new reserves some of the
companies were looking further afield. La Fortuna mine,
for example was engaged in exploratory work at a lead
mine (Leocadia concession) in the Almodóvar area near
Cordoba. But this endeavour came to nothing as there
were considerable problems getting beneath old Roman
mine workings to access new reserves.
Nevertheless, there was one bright light on the hori-
zon. The Linares Lead Mining Company paid its one hun-
dredth dividend to shareholders in 1898. The Chairman
of the Company was to remark, ‘A centenary of runs in
a cricket match may be a common occurrence, but a
centenary of dividends in a mining company is not a fre-
quent experience.’ (Anon., 1898) This was a most
remarkable achievement for a mining company at this
time, let alone one that was producing lead ore, an
accolade not achieved, as far as the author is aware, by
any other 19th century lead mining company. It is a tes-
tament to the quality of the mine, and to the manage-
ment, and the workforce.
In the early 20th century all three John Taylor and Sons
companies were reformed to attract more capital. Even-
tually however, the Alamillos Company was liquidated
and its’ assets merged with the Linares Lead Mining Com-
pany. Some degree of modernisation took place as well.
Compressed air drilling was introduced to increase dri-
vage rates and at least one shaft at each of the Taylor’s
mines was refitted with double skip-winding systems. Sur-
prisingly, in 1900, Taylors made one last attempt to replace
their falling lead ore reserves and formed another compa-
ny, Spanish Mining Properties Limited (National Archives,
Kew BT31/8887/65435). This company worked a group of
mines 8 kilometres west of La Carolina. Unfortunately
this company never achieved high lead outputs and was
liquidated by the end of 1903.
However, John Taylor and Sons had not finished with the
Pozo Ancho mine and they invested in new winding equip-
ment in 1904 on Peills’s Shaft in the San Francisco conces-
De Re Metallica 13 julio–diciembre 2009 2ª época 7
Figure 9. Linares. Locations of the principal English owned mines. (Base map is a Concession Map from Hereza and Alvarado, 1926, facing p. 26).
De Re Metallica 13 julio–diciembre 2009 2ª época
sion. There can be no doubt that they were deepening
existing workings to explore the mineral vein at depth.
However this could not save the mine.
Ultimately, the real problem for the companies was
that ore reserves were continually diminishing, and so in
1910 the Linares Lead and the Fortuna sold off their
remaining assets in Linares. Both companies then start-
ed to explore mines in Extremadura in western Spain,
first at Hornachos and then Azuaga. Despite raising
small amounts of lead ore, it was not enough to make
the operations financially viable and so the La Fortuna
Company was put into administration on the 8th January
1914, followed three years later by the Linares Lead
Mining Company on the 7th March 1917, finishing an era
of company history that spanned 68 years.
The Sopwith Company didn’t fare any better. It was
also trying to expand, by acquiring further concessions
at El Fin, to the west of la Tortilla. However mining
operations at La Tortilla had ceased by 1903, the mine
was allowed to flood and the remaining smelt works
were sold to a new company, an offshoot of the Peñar-
roya Group in 1907 (Anon., 1908).
Quoted production statistics for the Sopwith compa-
nies were published intermittently, if at all. However
the detailed reports for the Linares Lead Mining, La For-
tuna and Alamillos companies published usually on a
fortnightly basis, in the Mining Journal, London include
lead ore output from the various mines. There is no rea-
son to believe that the quoted figures are not a true
representation of ore output, as all three companies
were paying good dividends to shareholders, an achieve-
ment unattainable if output had been low. By the late
1870s when all three mines were in full production
Linares Lead, La Fortuna and Alamillos were averaging
Figure 10. Linares Lead Mining Company Limited: Los Quinientos mine section. Note the increase in intervals between the levels with depth (Copied by the author).
Figure 11. La Gitana mine. Masonry headgear on Rivero Shaft. (Author).
3600, 4300 and 2300 tons per annum, respectively, an
average total of 10,200 tons.
In 1890 Linares Lead produced 5779 tons, La Fortuna
4953 tons and Alamillos 2225 tons. Linares Lead was
consistently producing high tonnages up to 1898, the
year it declared its one hundredth dividend, including a
record 6508 tons in 1893. However, there was a clear
trend developing. There was an overall fall in combined
output of about 2000 tons. Much of this fall can be
attributed to shortfalls at Fortuna, with lesser shortfalls
at the other two companies.
By 1906, the final year of reliable production figures,
the ore reserves were dwindling rapidly, and output
from both La Fortuna and Alamillos was continuing to
fall. Only the Linares Lead Company was maintaining
high outputs and was still paying its shareholders divi-
dends. Table 1 shows a summary of annual outputs of
lead ore for the three companies of John Taylor and Sons
from 1890 to 1906.
There can be no doubt that the introduction of new
mining technology imported from England influenced
other mine owners. This in turn encouraged mining
operations to go deeper and ultimately increased con-
siderable the prosperity of the area, making it world
famous. Mines like the Spanish Government controlled
Arrayanes mine embraced the new technology, the mine
De Re Metallica 13 julio–diciembre 2009 2ª época 9
Figure 12. T. Sopwiths and Company Ltd. The La Tortilla leadworks about 1907. Scotch hearths were housed in the long buildings on the left. The long building in
the centre was the de-silvering plant. To the right there is a shot tower and lead sheet and pipe works. In the background there is a zigzagging condenser flue
leading to the two chimneys on the horizon. (Colectivo Proyecto Arrayanes).
Table 1. Summary of annual outputs of lead ore from 1890 to 1906. Linares Lead Mining, La Fortuna and Alamillos companies.
De Re Metallica 13 julio–diciembre 2009 2ª época
eventually having three main pumping engines along its
workings. Figure 13 shows the Restauración pumping
shaft at Arrayanes mine.
In the town of Linares the English cemetery is a last-
ing memorial to the English presence there. Originally
consecrated by the Bishop of Gibralter in 1866 it con-
tains the graves of Englishmen who worked in Linares.
Some of the names are of Cornish origin like Davey, Fox
and Goldsworthy while others are those from the north
of England associated with the Sopwith companies. The
English aristocracy is also represented; Reginald Bon-
ham-Carter, a member of a family of 19th century social
reformers, and a distant relative of the actress Helena
Bonham-Carter, is also buried there. Reginald originally
worked for the Sopwith Company as an engineer and
eventually bought his own lead mine. He was killed in an
underground accident in 1906.
In the countryside around Linares, mining remains
abound, particularly engine houses for Cornish-type
pumping engines. There are many surviving examples on
the concessions of the English mining companies and
also elsewhere. The mining landscape is unique to
Spain, and reminiscent of that found in Cornwall, Eng-
land, prompting attempts get the mining landscape
around Linares designated a World Heritage Site.
In the town, the mining industry is represented by an
interpretation centre and museum in the old Madrid
Railway Station. There are also proposals for a metallur-
gical interpretation centre at the la Cruz smelting
works, and an underground mine experience at the La
Tortilla mine. The past mining industry is being promot-
ed in whatever way it can by the Colectivo Proyecto
Arrayanes, with signposted walks, talks, publications
etc and slowly there is a change in attitude, and it is
becoming apparent that there is now a growing local
interest and an appreciation for an industry that once
brought considerable wealth to Linares.
I would like to thank all my friends in the Colectivo
Proyecto Arrayanes for their help on our many visits to
Linares. I would also like to thank the Librarians at the
National Coal Mining Museum for England, Wakefield,
and the British Library.
Anon. 1867. Inauguración de una máquina de vapor. Revista
Minera, 18, 294-296.
Anon. 1871. The Dressing of Lead Ores by Mr. T. Sopwith jun.
M.Inst.C.E. Mining Journal, London, 299.
Anon. 1885. Nueva fábrica manufacturera de plomos. Revista
Minera y Metalúrgica, 36, 134.
Anon. 1898. Linares Lead Mining Co. Mining World and Engine-
ering Record (Supplement) London. 1st October, 515.
Anon. 1908. Peñarroya y Sopwith. Revista Minera, Metalúrgica
y de Ingeniería, 59, 163.
Davies, E.H. 1894. Machinery for Metalliferous Mines. Crosby,
Lockwood and Sons, London.
Guzmán, F.G. 1999. Las Minas de Linares: Apuntes Históricos.
Colegio Oficial de Ingenieros Técnicos de Minas de Linares,
Jaén, Spain.
Hereza, J. and Alvarado, A. de, 1926. The Metalliferous
Deposits of Linares and Huelva. Excursión A-3, XIV Interna-
tional Geological Congress, Madrid 1926. Instituto Geológi-
co de España, Madrid.
Pedro de Mesa y Álvarez, D. 1890. Memoria sobre la Zona
Minera: Linares – La Carolina. Revista Minera, Metalúrgica
y de Ingeniería, 41, 180-181.
Rose, H.J. 1875. Untrodden Spain, and her Black Country;
Being Sketches of the Life and Character of the Spaniards
of the Interior. Volume 2. Samuel Tinsley, Strand, London.
Sandars, H. 1905. The Linares Bas-relief and Roman Mining
Operations at Baetica. Archaeologia, 59, 311-332.
Sopwith Jnr., T. 1870. The Dressing of Lead Ores. Minutes of
the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, UK.
30 (ii), 106-135 (and plates).
Sopwith Snr., T. 1863 to 1879. Diaries. Northumberland Record
Office, Woodhorn, Northumberland, United Kingdom.
Vázquez Guzmán, F. 1989. Spain. In: Mineral Deposits of
Europe Vol 4/5 Southwest and Eastern Europe, with Ice-
land. Dunning, Garrard, Haslam and Ixer (eds). The Institu-
tion of Mining and Metallurgy and The Mineralogical Soci-
ety, London, 117-120.
Figure 13. Restauración pumping shaft at the Arrayanes mine. A drum on the
right of the photograph contains flat rope for use in winding (Author’s Collec-
... Selected soil samples were collected in the Linares mining district (Jaén, South Spain). During the 19th century, this region was one of the main producers of Pb in the world [32][33][34][35]. The area has a rich underlying geology as a result of a fractured and faulted granite pluton with quartz mineralized veins containing galena (PbS), associated with sphalerite (ZnS), and chalcopyrite (CuFeS2). ...
Full-text available
Mineral processing and metallurgy production centers may leave a far-reaching fingerprint of soil contamination. This scenario is particularly relevant in the mining district of Linares (Southern Spain), where former industrial sites are now dedicated to other land uses. Within this context, we selected five sectors of concern in Linares region, which are currently used as agricultural and residential areas. The study began with an edaphic characterization, including grain-size fractioning and soil chemical analyses, which were complemented by mineralogical and sequential extraction information. Anomalous soil concentrations of As, Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn were found, with higher values than the admissible regional guideline limits. Moreover, chemical speciation indicated that in general, Pb, Zn, and Cd were highly available and bound mainly to the carbonate fraction. In addition, health risk assessment evidenced potential threats by Pb and As. Regarding remediation approaches, we observed that, in soils affected by mining and ore dressing activities, the clay and silt size fractions contained the highest pollution load, making them suitable for a size classification treatment. By contrast, in areas affected by metallurgical activity, pollutants were prone to be evenly distributed among all grain sizes, thereby complicating the implementation of such remediation strategies.
... In particular, at the beginning of the 20th century, there was significant lead-mining activity in the mining district of Linares in southern Spain [20]. This intense mining activity focused on the extraction of lead sulphides, for subsequent concentration. ...
Full-text available
Mining activities are essential for a population’s development; however, they also produce negative effects such as the production of waste, an impact on flora and water pollution. On the other hand, construction is one of the sectors which is most demanding of raw materials, with one of the main such materials being water. For this reason, this research evaluates the feasibility of incorporating water contaminated by mining waste into ceramic materials for bricks. In this way, the use of water is reduced and, on the other hand, the contaminating elements of the mining water are encapsulated in the ceramic matrix. To achieve this, the clay used and the contaminated water were first analysed, then different families of samples were conformed with different percentages of contaminated water. These samples were tested to determine their physical and mechanical properties. At the same time, leachate tests were carried out to determine that the ceramic material created did not cause environmental problems. The test results showed that the physical and mechanical properties of the ceramics were not influenced by the addition of contaminated water. On the other hand, the leachate tests showed that encapsulation of most of the potentially toxic elements occurred. However, the use of contaminated water as mixing water for ceramics could only be performed up to 60%, as higher percentages would leach impermissible arsenic concentrations. Accordingly, a new way of reusing water contaminated by mining activities is developed in this study, taking advantage of resources, avoiding environmental pollution and creating economic and environmentally friendly end products.
Full-text available
In 2015, we published a book (Cano Sanchiz 2015) on the English exploitation of the Cerro Muriano Mine (Córdoba, Spain) during the first two decades of the 20th century, which completed seven years of industrial archaeological research on that site. Because that monograph and most of our papers on the topic were published in Spanish, our results have had little impact on the international academic community. For this reason, and also to address the requests of many colleagues, the main aim of this article is to recapitulate, summarise and present to an international (English speaking) audience the main conclusions and advances in knowledge of our previous works on the mining and metallurgy of Cerro Muriano during the Contemporary Age. The research revealed that the mining and metallurgical sectors grew worldwide under a strong international interaction in that period. And this, ultimately, led to a certain globalisation process.
Full-text available
This short paper analyzes a particular technical solution to pump water form shafts and underground galleries, the Cornish engine, during a long and heterogeneous time which could be defined as the mining industrialization period. Its main components, evolution and basic running are described, and some information about people in rela- tion with it and also about the specifically building developed ad hoc (the world widespread Cornish engine house) is given too. Finally, the paper shows, with both text and photographs, how a British model was constituted and repeated all over the mining world.
Technical Report
Full-text available
At the start of the Atlas Shipwreck Survey Project in 2005, Odyssey Marine Exploration discovered outside UK territorial waters the wreck of a 64m-long steel ship in the western English Channel containing a cargo of lead ingots (site T1M31b-5). Further seasonal monitoring continued in 2008 and 2012. The ingots are stamped with the maker’s mark of ‘T.S. Co LD. SPAIN’, an abbreviation of T. Sopwith and Company Limited. The ingots were manufactured at Linares in Andalusia between 1880 and 1907, when Thomas Sopwith Jnr was one of numerous entrepreneurs who exploited southern Spain’s mineral wealth. Spain emerged as the world’s largest producer of lead in the last quarter of the 19th century. The Sopwith ingot cargo is the sole archaeological remains of a cargo of lead found underwater that was extracted en masse at Linares during the heyday of Victorian mining in Andalusia. In 2015 the wreck’s entire cargo of around 423 tons was found to have been removed, becoming the third regional site looted in this sector of the western English Channel, including the English First Rate warship the Victory, sunk in 1744, and the mid-18th century French privateer La Marquise de Tourny.The disturbance of these shipwrecks highlights the very real threats to underwater cultural heritage outside UK territorial waters and the governmental complexity of preventing the destruction of archaeological resources so far from shore.
Technical Report
The 11th International Mining History Congress will be held at Linares, Jaén, Spain - 6th to 11th September 2016. Notes for Website:
Technical Report
Full-text available
Notes about the 11th International Mining History Congress will be held at Linares, Jaén, Spain - 6th to 11th September 2016 Website:
Full-text available
Thomas Sopwith senior is famous for his overseeing of the W.B. lead mines in the North Pennines. His son Tom followed very much in his father's footsteps but at a time when the UK mines were about to decline. Tom became the manager of the Spanish Lead Co., a UK company formed in 1864 to work the La Tortilla Mine to the north west of Linares, Spain. The company was later refinanced as T. Sopwith and Company Ltd. The area was exploited by a series of UK companies and generated consistent profits even at times when lead prices were low. This volume traces Tom's professional career from his visits to other European mines to his tragic and untimely death in 1898. It has a detailed history of the lead mines at La Tortilla together with their associated workings is richly illustrated with many photographs and drawings from the archives at Linares, including several of the smelting works.
RESUMEN En este breve trabajo se analiza una solución técnica determinada (y determinante) para el desagüe de pozos y galerías durante un tiempo dilatado y heterogéneo que podríamos definir como período de industrialización de la minería: el motor de bombeo córnico o Cornish engine. Se describen sus principales componentes, evolución y fun-cionamiento básico, al tiempo que se aportan algunos datos sobre las principales firmas relacionadas con éste y sobre el singular tipo arquitectónico desarrollado ad hoc: la casa Cornish, de amplia difusión internacional. Por últi-mo, se da cuenta, a través tanto del texto como del aparato gráfico, de la constitución y repetición de un modelo de origen británico por todo el mundo minero. ABSTRACT This short paper analyzes a particular technical solution to pump water form shafts and underground galleries, the Cornish engine, during a long and heterogeneous time which could be defined as the mining industrialization period. Its main components, evolution and basic running are described, and some information about people in rela-tion with it and also about the specifically building developed ad hoc (the world widespread Cornish engine house) is given too. Finally, the paper shows, with both text and photographs, how a British model was constituted and repeated all over the mining world.
Linares Lead Mining Co. Mining World and Engineering Record (Supplement) London
  • Anon
Anon. 1898. Linares Lead Mining Co. Mining World and Engineering Record (Supplement) London. 1 st October, 515.
Machinery for Metalliferous Mines
  • E H Davies
Davies, E.H. 1894. Machinery for Metalliferous Mines. Crosby, Lockwood and Sons, London.
The Metalliferous Deposits of Linares and Huelva. Excursión A-3, XIV International Geological Congress
  • J Hereza
  • A Alvarado
  • De
Hereza, J. and Alvarado, A. de, 1926. The Metalliferous Deposits of Linares and Huelva. Excursión A-3, XIV International Geological Congress, Madrid 1926. Instituto Geológico de España, Madrid.
The Dressing of Lead Ores. Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, UK. 30 (ii)
  • Sopwith Jnr
Sopwith Jnr., T. 1870. The Dressing of Lead Ores. Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, UK. 30 (ii), 106-135 (and plates).
The Institution of Mining and Metallurgy and
  • F Vázquez Guzmán
Vázquez Guzmán, F. 1989. Spain. In: Mineral Deposits of Europe Vol 4/5 Southwest and Eastern Europe, with Iceland. Dunning, Garrard, Haslam and Ixer (eds). The Institution of Mining and Metallurgy and The Mineralogical Society, London, 117-120.
Memoria sobre la Zona Minera: Linares-La Carolina
  • D Pedro De Mesa Y Álvarez
Pedro de Mesa y Álvarez, D. 1890. Memoria sobre la Zona Minera: Linares-La Carolina. Revista Minera, Metalúrgica y de Ingeniería, 41, 180-181.
Las Minas de Linares: Apuntes Históricos
  • F G Guzmán
Guzmán, F.G. 1999. Las Minas de Linares: Apuntes Históricos. Colegio Oficial de Ingenieros Técnicos de Minas de Linares, Jaén, Spain.
Untrodden Spain, and her Black Country
  • H J Rose
Rose, H.J. 1875. Untrodden Spain, and her Black Country;
Inauguración de una máquina de vapor
  • Anon
Anon. 1867. Inauguración de una máquina de vapor. Revista Minera, 18, 294-296.
The Dressing of Lead Ores by Mr
  • Anon
Anon. 1871. The Dressing of Lead Ores by Mr. T. Sopwith jun. M.Inst.C.E. Mining Journal, London, 299.