the south east of the Island lies a small strip of land joined by an
isthmus. With a surface area of less than a square mile, Langness was a
site of ancient mining where shallow copper deposits had been extracted
by the monks of Furness who had set up their order at 'Rakenalwath',
possibly an earlier name for Ronaldsway.
The discovery of a smelt at Ronaldsway, adjacent to Langness and now the site of the airport, has confirmed medieval metal working in this location but does not necessarily relate to the monks earth workings.
Documentation implies that veins of copper had been found in 1845 but extraction didn't commence until 1865 when a shares prospectus was registered under The Companies (Isle of Man) act of that year and a company to be known as the Langness Mining Company was formed. The sett was described as being along the course of the main or champion lode held by messrs Wm Todhunter, Thomas Wright and William Fell.
Exploration had taken place three years earlier by sixteen men who formed themselves into the 'Derby Haven Trial Company' and had found the surface discoveries to be 'so valuable' that they were strongly urged to place the property on the market immediately. In 1874, samples were sent to Widnes for testing and the report stated that 'they had found a very rich vein' with 42 percent iron and 24 percent copper. Several trial holes were made on the main lode producing five to six hundredweight of rich copper and it was suggested that as the sett was so large that the three lodes cold be worked as separate mines. On the 5th of April 1876, a twenty one year lease was taken on the sett.
By March 1877, a small shaft had been sunk to 13 fathoms (78 ft) onto the lode and a cross cut was driven to intersect a second parallel vein which was twenty inches in width. A total of five lodes, four of which were parallel had been found over the sett within a span of two hundred yards and all were very rich in copper with veins up to five feet in width. The shaft reached a total depth of 47 fathoms and the mine employed four men on average between 1881 and 1900. In 1891, there were twenty two men underground and ten on the surface. The following year the workforce was halved. A total of only nineteen tons of concentrate was produced.
The surface remains are sufficient to relate to the 'modern' mining process at Langness with the small engine house and the powder magazine indicating the 'middle sett'. There has been some uncertainty as to the whereabouts of the shaft but recent findings by the mines group have brought new light on this.
A probe within the remnants of the engine house produced a rather large sheave wheel and the remains of a kibble tipping mechanism three and a half feet across. The wheel has a diameter of nearly five feet and a sheave many times too big for the cable that would have been used on a 47 fathom shaft. Both Wheel and Kibble were located within the small building suggesting that the shaft was very close and not where previously thought. A small room measuring six feet by four feet is located at the southern end of the building and appears to have no function other than the three and a half foot wide entrance from outside the building. It was noticed by the group how hollow sounding the floor within seemed to be. On a later visit to the site, a one meter long drill was used to bore a small hole into the ground which immediately 'shot' into nothing in several places. No further attempt has been made to confirm that this may be a shaft but forty seven fathoms of steel cable would in fact wind directly onto the over sized sheave wheel.