History and Operations
In the 1880s, the Ulfstead Mining Company became interested in the minerals, mostly lead, waiting to be found on the higher ground east of the marsh separating Tidmouth and Elsbridge; but without a firm footing they could not be either extracted or transported away. Accordingly, they called in A. W. Dry & Co., who had experience of working on drainage problems in East Anglia. A. W. Dry built embankments across the flats north and south of the River Els and installed tide gates, allowing mining operations to begin. A railway line was constructed to transport the lead to the harbour at Knapford, later extended to Tidmouth.
After the somewhat shaky start, the lead mine prospered for a time. Miners dug tunnels underground and while their roofs were strong enough to support trucks, they were not strong enough to support the weight of an engine. The run down of the mine began in 1925 and it had to close down in 1930. Fortunately, the branch line found new traffic from quarrying at Ffarquhar. Thomas was sometimes sent to the mine to deliver empty trucks and take away full ones from sidings. On one of these trips in 1953, he disregarded the warning board about the instability of the tunnels and fell into a mine shaft and had to be rescued by Gordon.
By 1962, discovery of uranium in the old workings has led to the mine's re-opening and the mine's future looks fair for the present. When Wilbert visited in 1993, one of his first jobs was at the lead mine.
- Gordon the Big Engine - Down the Mine
- The Eight Famous Engines - Percy Takes the Plunge (mentioned)
- Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine - Train Stops Play (mentioned)
- Wilbert the Forest Engine - Cab over Wheels (mentioned)
- 1987 - The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways (mentioned)
- It was referred in The Railway Series: Surprise Packet as the Dryaw Lead Mines.