The Peak District Mines Historical Society was formed at a meeting held at Sheffield University on the 14th of February 1959 by a group of interested geologists at the University.
In 1976 a massive operation at Wills Founder Shaft, Winster, resulted in the recovery of a unique water pressure engine. This led directly to the opening of the Peak District Lead Mining Museum at Matlock Bath, where the engine is displayed along with many other artefacts and historical displays.
The Museum provides an interactive educational facility for all ages and visitors can also undertake a guided tour into the old fluorspar workings at Temple Mine, just across the road from the Museum and owned and managed by the Society. The impressive Pump Room is the primary venue for the Society's winter series of lectures, slide shows and video presentations which are generally very well attended.
Early in its history the Society acquired a lease of the surface remains at Magpie Mine, Sheldon. Over the last 40 years much effort, both in time and money, has gone into the preservation of the site. OurField Centre is located in the old Agent's Cottage and is available for use by members and their guests for a nominal fee.
Since its inception the Society has published a bi-annual Bulletin. This has grown into one of the leading journals of mining history, and circulates throughout the world.
Groups of members from within the Society are involved in a number of active projects, such as the Crich Lead Mining Display at the National Tramway Museum, conservation and archaeology work at High Rake (completed in 2008) and the recently-completed archaeological excavation and conservation programme at Silence Mine amongst others.
The Society also arranges regular underground meets, training sessions and mining history walks as well as hosting a series of winter lectures, slide shows and video presentations. There is always a calendar of current events to interest both the serious mine historian or researcher and the active underground explorer.
Having recently celebrated its 50th birthday, the Society has a large and thriving membership of both active and academic members, who are working together both above and below ground to record, preserve, explore and document the mines and mining history of the Peak District.