Countrystride

Countrystride #60: Wad - The wealth of Borrowdale

July 23, 2021
…in which we stride out from Seathwaite with mining authority Mark Hatton to unearth the turbulent history of Borrowdale graphite. As we battle bracken on the fellside of Low Bank, we seek out the nature-reclaimed remains of a mining industry that played a key role in the emergence of industrial Britain. In a story that starts with a lone farmer discovering a means to mark his sheep and ends in financial collapse on a huge scale, we learn how critical Borrowdale and Keswick were in the development of early capitalism; we debunk the myth that Derwent Isle was used to safeguard German immmigrants; we meet counterfeiters and bandits; we wonder whether ‘breathing’ mines might explain legends of dragons; we consider how lawless this wild-west hamlet once was… and, last but not least, we talk pencils…

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