Irene Godfrey


Notes on Fluorspar Series:

I spent my formative years until age15 in a high and remote area of the North Pennines. Here my father worked mining fluorspar where lead had also been mined in the past.

Fluorite was formed by the action of water on granite. Heat caused fluorite to be leached from the granite and deposited in fault lines where it crystallised.

The square fluorescent fluorite crystals have been collected as specimens since the 18thC. In Weardale they are predominantly purple, with some yellow and green.

Commercially fluorite is used as a flux in the steel and ceramics industries and latterly for the production of CFCs and Teflon.

The mines were usually accessed by adits or levels, inclined tunnels in the hillside.

Well into the 20thC miners still frequently died in their 40's from inhalation of particles. The disease was known as "black spit".

Miners traditionally farmed a smallholding in addition, which eased times of slump in the mining industry.

The last Weardale fluorspar mine "Frazer's Grove Mine" closed in 1999.

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