CONCERN is mounting over the future for one of the last “monuments to lead mining” in the North Pennines.

What remains of Grove Rake Mine, near Rookhope, in Weardale, County Durham, which has the last remaining headgear in the North Pennines orefield is thought to be under threat following a fire earlier this month.

The roof of one of the modern buildings - thought to be built in the 1980s - was badly damaged in a fire on November 13.

Concern is now mounting for the future of the remaining infrastructure, which includes the headgear, winding house and engine.

Mine enthusiast Jean Thornley, from Darlington, is one of those worried about its future. Ms Thornley, who is renovating a former mine building near Cowshill and has ancestors who mined at Rookhope, said: “People have a vested interest because it’s such a monument to lead mining. It’s quite a famous landmark and it’s the last one left.

“I don’t want to see it go down and there are quite a few of us who want to save it. A lot of local people are interested in what happens to it. Mining is such a big part of the history of Weardale.”

Mining started at Grove Rake in the early 1800s and major operations were developed by the Beaumont Company in the 1810s. It started producing fluorspar under the ownership of Weardale Lead Company and after the Second World War was one of the leading producers of the mineral.

When it closed in 1999 it was thought to have been the last fluorspar mine operating in England and the last deep mineral mine in County Durham.

The surviving infrastructure is some of the last evidence of mining to be preserved in Weardale.

Durham County Council put a building preservation order on the winding house in 2013, when it described the buildings as a “unique collection”. That safeguarded the building for six months while the council applied to get listed building status to give it lasting protection.

But English Heritage said it did not meet the criteria and an appeal is still pending.

Paul Allison, owner of Sherburn Stone, which owns the mine, said negotiations over its future were ongoing.