As a child John moved to a hill farm in the West Allen valley, Northumberland (the farm is now a Buddhist Monastery). He braved the steep hills and went exploring. One of the places he investigated in the early 60s was Swinhope mine. The mine had recently closed but lots of equipment, the mine entrance and a few buildings remained.
At the time the entrance to the mine featured a double narrow gauge rail track and was wide enough to drive a car down. At least you could if it were not for the barrier of railway sleepers which had been erected just a few yards inside the entrance. Peering through cracks in the barrier you could, with the aid of a torch see the tunnel sloping gently down into the darkness.
Swinhope mine started it's life as a lead mine owned by the Beaumont family in 1815. It was worked by them until 1872 when the fall in the price of lead made the mine less profitable.
For a while in 1896 it was worked for zinc. In 1951 the mine was re-opened By Durham Chemicals. It was taken over by Consolidated Goldfields in 1955 but despite extensive exploration no new veins were found. Mining was briefly tried again in 1960 but again the mine was sealed.
British Steel briefly re-opened the mine and used it to dump material from the Allenheads mine.
Today there is little left of the mine other than the track to it and a pile of rubble. You can still get into the old level which drained water from the old lead mine but the entrance I remember has gone.
Swinhope mine has been visited by Mine-Explorer.co.uk who get a mention in Chapter 22.
All that's left of the entrance to the old lead mine
Just up the road towards Coalcleugh is an 'odd' area which can clearly be seen on Google Earth and Local.live.It's a track running to a circular area with two buildings nearby. This is the location we suggested for the Blue Streak missile silo. You won't find a silo there however, it's a car park with the lunch huts for grouse shooters. It does however, show a remarkably similar layout to the only real missile silo at Spadeadam - one which was never finished. They are of similar size, both surrounded by a mound of earth and both in a remote location. The images below are taken from Google Earth.