Underground world of Peak

A film about the history of mining in the Peak District has been made by 27-year-old Byron Machin. Photo contributed.
A film about the history of mining in the Peak District has been made by 27-year-old Byron Machin. Photo contributed.

A PASSION for archaeology and education is the inspiration behind a documentary on the mining industry and underground remains of the Peak District and Staffordshire Moorlands.

The man behind the two-hour film is 27-year-old geography teacher Byron Machin, who has lived on the edge of the Peak District all his life and has long been captivated by its landscapes.

27-year-old Byron Machin, who has made a film about the history of mining in the Peak District. Photo contributed.

27-year-old Byron Machin, who has made a film about the history of mining in the Peak District. Photo contributed.

Byron spent several years researching the mines initially intending to publish a book but decided to make a documentary film instead in order to reach a wider audience.

“It was a challenging task to condense so much information into just two hours, but I believe I have managed to keep it interesting and exciting for everybody,” he said of Blood Sweat & Stone: A History of Mining in the Peak District.

“It contains information on the formation and geology of Staffordshire, underground disasters, folklore, archaeology, engineering development, and how mining helped to build the British Empire.

“The documentary, like a book, is organised into chapters following the history of mining from the Bronze Age to the Present Day.

27-year-old geography teacher Byron Machin who has made a film about the history of mining in the Peak District. Photo contributed.

27-year-old geography teacher Byron Machin who has made a film about the history of mining in the Peak District. Photo contributed.

“Over 40 minutes of the documentary were filmed underground, which was extremely challenging as the mines were inaccessible and very dangerous – but it allows the public access to places they would otherwise never see.”

Working in the mines brought a number of challenges for Byron, and his friend Patricia Myers who helped with the filming, but it has also provided him with experiences he’ll remember forever.

Describing an evening’s filming at Masson Lead Mine in Matlock, Byron said: “On reaching the long series of crawls and climbs back to the surface we found bats were entering in and out of the mine.

“Half way up a particularly slippy, muddy part of the crawl my backpack got jammed in the rift and I could not move. I was trying to get a grip on the mud with only one hand (the other was holding a filming tripod) and I just kept slipping.

“Add to this the passage was extremely small, and bats kept flying so close to the side of my head I could feel their wings as they passed right in front of my face.”