Mining in Devon

Many members have enjoyed Russell Society field trips to the ‘Hemerdon Bal’ mine in Devon, or Drakelands Mine as it is now called. The mine has been through significant change in recent years with Wolf Minerals investing in tungsten extraction at the site. The mine was referenced in a recent article in The Economist, which can be found through this link to The Economist website:

The Oxford Colloquium 2016

We just been informed about an event – The Oxford Colloquium – that members may find of interest.

The Oxford Colloquium 2016 will be held on 5 March 2016 10:00-17:00 (doors open 09:30) at the Oxford Museum of Natural History, Parks Road, Oxford. Speakers will address topical and key issues in the world of geology and the Earth sciences. This year’s speakers – including scientist and author, Professor Chris Stringer – will cover a range of subjects from volcanology to human evolution, and from hydrocarbons to the interpretation of buried landscapes.

Tickets for The Oxford Colloquium 2016 are the same price as last year (£20) and must be purchased in advance. See the OGG website for full details of the speakers and abstracts of their talks –!the-oxford-colloquium-2016/c8qx.

The Oxford Geology Group will also be organising a 1-day Geo-ramble on the day (Sunday 6 March 2016) after the Colloquium.

Mindat events is organising two events in November 2015 that may be of interest to members.

On Friday 13th November there is a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the mineral department at the National History Museum, London.

On Sunday 15th November, Mindat’s 2nd annual mineral symposium will be held at Haywards Heath, West Sussex. Speakers at the event include:

Jolyon Ralph – brief update and mineral collecting cataloguing in the 21st century
Chris Mavris – An exceptional find of artinite from Parma, Italy
Luis Martins – The hitchhikers guide to Portuguese pegmatites
Ed Loye – REE minerals
Roy Starkey – Arran in Focus (minerals of the Isle of Arran)


Details of these events can be found through this link to

Mineral auction

An auction of mineral specimens from the Trevor Bridges collection will be held on Saturday 1st August 2015 at Salwarpe Village hall, Worcestershire, WR9 0AH.

Roy Starkey is managing the sale and Roy has produced a catalogue and supporting information for people wishing to bid for lots. Further information can be obtained from Roy at:

Please note that you must register with Roy in advance of the sale. The deadline for registrations is Friday 24th July. Please do not simply turn up on the day, as you will not be able to bid.

Annual Society Meeting 2016

Each year a Russell Society Branch hosts a weekend for all members that includes social events, presentations, field trips, visits and the AGM.  For 2016 the Annual Society Meeting is being hosted by the Northern Branch at Bowburn Hall Hotel, Bowburn, County Durham on the 22 ,23 and 24 April.

Details of the event will be published on this website and in the Society’s Newsletter as they become available.

Trevor Bridges (1935 – 2015)


Trevor Bridges will undoubtedly have been known to many Society members, but for those who were not privileged to have met Trevor the following notes are intended as a brief tribute.

Trevor was born in London and grew up in Yorkshire. He trained as a Chemist and Chemical Engineer, gaining his degree from the University of Birmingham, a specialism of which he was justly proud, and a subject for which he had a great affection. He met his future wife Shelagh through the Coventry Mountaineering Club, and they were married in 1963.

As an ambassador of “science for the citizen” there are few who could surpass Trevor’s tenacity and enthusiasm, and he relished the prospect of educating non-chemists in the ways of the elements. A long-term employee of the Courtaulds Group, Trevor worked initially in the Midlands, but in 1981 moved north to take up an opportunity on Tyneside at International Paint, a member of the Group. Here, Trevor was in his element. He took a special interest in the mineralisation of the Northern Pennine Orefield, and together with others was instrumental in the establishment of the Russell Society’s Northern Branch in 1984, the first beyond the confines of Leicestershire.

Trevor’s professional life saw him grappling with improving the production efficiency of a complex paint polymer manufacturing plant at Felling, near Gateshead, and latterly in a key role as the site’s Health and Safety Consultant, making a real impact on people’s lives and well-being, something which gave him immense personal satisfaction.

Minerals, and the chemistry of minerals, occupied a huge part of Trevor’s life, and his family shared in this interest as a matter of course. There was, however, much more to Trevor than simply collecting minerals, he was an accomplished climber and mountaineer, a Munroist (Compleator number 1953) in the Scottish Mountaineering Club Register in 1998, and a passionate and knowledgeable birdwatcher.

Never seeking the limelight, Trevor worked quietly on the subjects that interested him, and was always happy to explain, often complex, chemical matters to those less informed than himself, and using terminology that helped the listener to grasp the fundamentals of what was being discussed. He published a considerable number of scientific papers, and often commented to me that he had not had time to write up as much as he would have liked. Many of his publications focused on supergene mineralogy, particularly in relation to northern England, the field in which Trevor carved a niche for himself. He had a particular fascination with barium mineralisation, and also brought his expertise in stability field diagrams to bear on helping to interpret the complex geochemistry of the lead oxychloride assemblages in the Mendips. A recurring theme in Trevor’s collection is “specimens with stories about their formation” – look out for these amongst the various lots.

Trevor will be remembered by many as an educator and teacher. He was a popular speaker to various mineral and geological groups, and in 1993 Trevor was only the second recipient of the Russell Medal, something which pleased him greatly. Trevor’s mineral collection numbering some 6000 specimens has been dispersed in a number of different directions – to the Hunterian Museum, the Oxford Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of Wales, the Hancock Museum (Newcastle Upon Tyne) and the Natural History Museum. The auction lots comprise the bulk of his more aesthetic display specimens.

He has truly left a significant mark on the world in the field of mineralogy and he will long be remembered for his generosity, his enthusiasm and fair minded approach to life.

Roy Starkey – June 2015

Russell Reflections

Russell Reflections is a compilation of photographs, evoking nostalgic memories of the many aspects of The Russell Society, have been collected together from 1972-2012 as part of our 40th anniversary celebrations.

Reflecting the past, celebrating the present and looking forward to the future, there are images of the people of the Society, collecting and collections, sites and supporters, mineral finds and losses, friends, fun and laughter. The images are arranged chronologically with a time line over the years.

You can download the Russell Reflections PDF document (size is 17 MB) from this link to Dropbox here.

Herodsfoot Mine

North Herodsfoot mine and Herodsfoot mine are one and the same. The original mine started as early as the 1600’s. The main timeframe of deep mining was from the 1840’s to the 1880’s. The mine workings extensively following the vein in a southerly direction as the lode failed to the north. The mineral specimens – bournonite and tetrahedrite were the mines main claim to fame and the renowned mineral dealer Richard Talling made sure he had a supply of specimens to feed an eager market.

The original mine has languished virtually untouched for over a century. I believe even the determined Dick Barstow was unable to gain entry! A farmer with a 12 bore can be quite a deterrent!

The mine buildings still retained their roofs in entirety in 1954; in fact in 1983 the boiler house was near perfect, the Delabole slates only being removed to re-roof the Count House in 1996. Today the extensive dumps are carpeted in leaf mould and trees. Our aim is threefold; firstly to stabilise the mine buildings; secondly to understand the geology and mineralisation and finally to find a way into the old northerly workings.

South-West RS member Richard Humphrey is undertaking this major project to preserve the old mine buildings, access the old mine workings and work through the old mine dumps in the search for long lost specimens of the famous minerals from this classic Cornish site. You can keep up to date with progress at Richard’s web site: North Herodsfoot mine.

To find out more about Herodsfoot, its history and specimens Roy Starkey has written article in The Mineralogical Record: “The Herodsfoot mine, Lanreath, Cornwall, England”, The Mineralogical Record Vol. 43, No. 4, July – August 2012, pages 411-486

Article by Richard Humphrey.

Crystal Mountains – Minerals of the Cairngorms

Roy Starkey’s long-awaited book on the minerals of the Cairngorms was launched in Edinburgh on 25th September 2014.

Crystal Mountains – Minerals of the Cairngorms tells the story of the early crystal hunters who roamed the mountains and glens of the Cairngorms during the 18th and 19th centuries in search of Scotland’s famous gem – the smoky quartz or cairngorm. The book provides a comprehensive history of this arduous and uncertain quest, and explains the geological background to the occurrence of the gem minerals. Lavishly illustrated with photographs of the wild and rugged scenery of the Cairngorms National Park, the text invites exploration and discovery.

The author has been privileged to have obtained unprecedented access to both private and public collections, resulting in the inclusion of numerous previously unpublished photographs of mineral specimens, gemstones and artefacts made from them. The book will appeal to all those interested in the natural and social history of the area, to Park visitors, mineral collectors, gemmologists and members of the antique and jewellery trades.

Running to 184 pages, the book follows the now well established format of Minerals of Cornwall and Devon, Minerals of the English Lake District, Caldbeck Fells and Minerals of Northern England.

Further details can be found through this link to Roy’s website here.