Institution of Mechanical Engineers - Get Now DOC by G1A988C3


 IMechE West Cumbria e-Newsletter
 Edition 52, May 2007
 Institution of Mechanical Engineers
 North Western Region – West Cumbria Area

Admire the courage and engineering that exploited our natural reserves, then enjoy some liquid
refreshment - an 'End of Term special!

A great finale to another packed season saw intrepid IMechE members risk life and limb at Honister
Slate Mine. Before entering the mine, at the start of the impossible new Via Ferrata walk,

                           Start of the impossible new Via Ferrata walk

A huge gust of wind came from nowhere, and many helmets, glasses & bodies were nearly blown off
the ledge
                                       The wind blown party!!

 - this photo shows the party moments beforehand. Remarkably, all parts were recovered and the
party set off deep into the slate workings...

Our host, Roland, superbly explained the harsh working life of the miners and their families, which
included having to buy their own working tools and explosives to do their job. Rewarded by
piecework, the engineering inside the mountain was stark and brutal, using the natural gravity to
manually push the 'clog trucks' along the simple railway track to the outside world. The slate is
contained in folds erupted during the ice age, and is often at crazy angles, which meant building
incline railways to be able to exploit a valuable seam.

                               The intrepid explorers view the incline.

At the largest cavern, even our new Chairman, David Williamson, appreciated the remarkable
working life of the men, women and children who developed these mines over 200 years. Indeed, un-
powered extraction was still being achieved some 30 years ago.
                         The party appreciates the hardship of the miners.

But now the mine is in good hands, and everything that can be extracted is being used to provide
the finest slate products in the world.

To finish the event, our trip down back to the main buildings was completed in a raging, driving,
freezing rainstorm. But then, it is May... Ne'er cast a clout?

                             Everyone looking forward to a pie and pint!

A warming welcome and some glorious steak & ale pie at the Kirkstile Inn soon banished the
discomfort - a wonderful ending. Here's to next season!

   For further information on this release, interviews or comments, please contact
         Chris George, IMechE West Cumbria Publicity Officer, on 01946 811771, email:
   Further details of all IMechE West Cumbria activities can be found at

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