A ‘lost’ vein of rare Blue John stone has been rediscovered in a Peak District cavern after nearly 70 years. It was the legacy of miner John Royse who back in 1945 told 19 year old Peter Harrison about an amazing deposit of Blue John stone he had found in Treak Cliff Cavern. Peter promised to return to the cavern the next day, but sadly John Royse was taken ill and died before he could show Peter the exact location of his find.
For nearly 70 years, Peter Harrison and his family have toiled away in the Treak Cliff Cavern Blue John stone mine in search of the lost vein. They have found other lesser deposits along the way but John Royse’s legendary deposit has eluded them, until now.
Says Peter Harrison, ”I was just a young lad of 19 when my family took over the running of Treak Cliff Cavern back in 1945. The old miner John Royse was not in the best of health and was retiring. He told me of this fantastic deposit of Blue John he had found and asked me to help him get it out. We planned to return to the cavern the next day but sadly John Royse was taken ill and died. Over the years I have spent countless hours searching for that deposit.”
It has fallen to Peter Harrison’s grandson John Turner to uncover the lost treasure.
Says John Turner (21), “I am learning the art of Blue John mining from Gary Ridley the mine manager who has been mining here for over 15 years. Gary has been teaching me what to look for and the tell-tale crystal structures in the rock that could mean a vein of Blue John lies beneath. It was while we were stood talking at the bottom of the ladder that leads to the upper galleries that I noticed something unusual on the floor. After an hour of digging through muddy deposits I was amazed to come across an old piece of carpet supported by some wooden batons. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we pulled away the old carpet and there was this most amazing deposit of Blue John stone. It was right under the ladder that my grandfather put in decades ago. He must have walked over John Royse’s old find thousands of times over the years.”
Says Peter Harrison “When my grandson phoned to tell me he had found John Royse’s old deposit, I couldn’t believe it. After all these years it was right under my feet! I’m 87 now and retired years ago, but when I heard the news I just had to put on my old mining overalls and make the trip back into the cavern to see the deposit for myself.”
Vicky Turner, Peter’s daughter and John’s mother now manages Treak Cliff Cavern, she says, “I grew up with stories of John Royse’s lost deposit. To be honest I thought it might have been a bit of an old miner’s tale. If my father hadn’t found it after all these years maybe it didn’t exist. It is a fantastic discovery. John is learning the trade and has a great eye for it, it must be in his blood.
“We have started removing some of the Blue John to test for its quality and it is some of the best most beautifully veined Blue John ever to come out of Treak Cliff. It is a sizeable deposit and we conservatively estimate that there is enough Blue John stone in this deposit to keep us busy for the next decade at least.”
When: Monday 5th August or Tuesday 6th August time by arrangement – contact David Leon 07980 802059
Where: Treak Cliff Cavern, Buxton Road, Castleton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire, S33 8WP.
What: Peter Harrison returns to the cave after 70 years with his grandson John Turner who found the lost Blue John stone deposit. Note: photography and interviews in the public area of the cave with visible Blue John Stone deposits, and hand sized samples of the Blue John Stone recovered from the lost deposit is on the tourist route and easy access. The lost deposit itself is only 20m away but is off the tourist route and requires wellington boots and a bit of scrambling.
Treak Cliff Cavern is unique amongst the show caves of Britain as both an historical Blue John mine and a spectacular natural cavern with amazing formations of stalactites and flowstone. It is also one of only two working Blue John mines in the world, providing Blue John for jewellery and ornaments, much of which is hand crafted in the workshops on site.
Treak Cliff Cavern is of international fame and geological importance. It has been a designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest for many years and by agreement with English Nature all the Blue John Stone deposits on the visitor route are preserved. The origin of the name ‘Blue John’ is thought to have come from the French ‘bleu et jaune’, meaning ‘blue and yellow’.
Treak Cliff Cavern is open daily throughout the year. Entrance is by guided tours which depart regularly throughout the day. It opens at 10am and the last tour is at 4.15pm March – September and 3.15pm October – February. Closed 25 & 26 December. Dogs are allowed in the cavern on a lead. There is also a café where you can enjoy a cup of tea made with the natural water from the cave and a gift shop selling a wide range of Blue John jewellery and ornaments.
Admission Prices 2013: Adults £8.75, Children (5-15) £4.75, Concession £7.75, Family (2+2) £25.00 (additional child £4), Under 5s Free.
For media enquiries contact David Leon, Partners Leisure, firstname.lastname@example.org. 01904 610077. Mobile 07980 802059