200 years of renewable energy
From the 18th C. to the 20th C. Alston Moor was one of the largest lead and zinc mining areas in Britain. Largely worked by the London Lead Company, and later by the Vieille Montagne Zinc Company extensive mines and processing plants were constructed. These works made full use of water power to drive the ore crushing mills and separating plants. Several reservoirs were constructed and water was collected from the hills by miles of leats (water channels) and pipelines. In the early 20th C. the water systems powered air compressors to drive drilling tools in the mines and also to generate electricity, which lit the mines and also provided some of the earliest public street lighting in Nenthead.
Some of the leats and reservoirs were restored to supply a new hydro electric plant, built by a private developer in the early years of this century at the Nenthead Mines site.