Southampton Mineral & Fossil Society

Jim Goulding in the Caldbeck Fells 1998

Jim on a field trip to the Caldbeck Fells in 1998.

my favourite mineral",
by Jim Goulding

Former Southampton Mineral & Fossil Society Chairman Jim Goulding sadly passed away in January 2010 and is greatly missed by the Society and all who knew him. In this, his original web site page from 2001 Jim gives us a brief look into his favourite mineral, pyromorphite of which he had very extensive collection acquired over many years of mineral collecting. His enthusiasm for his hobby was immense as was his willingness to pass on his knowledge and enthusiasm. Jim was the field trip organiser for the Society for some time and never missed an opportunity to arrange collecting trips to classic pyromorphite sites.
Jim Goulding and some of his pyromorphite collection

Jim with some of his pyromorphite collection after presenting a talk on the mineral at a Society meeting.

Chemically pyromorphite is lead phosphate chloride, Pb5(PO4)3Cl. The name derives from the Greek pyr , fire and morph , form which alludes to the crystalline shape that the melted mineral takes on cooling. The colour varies from green, yellow, orange, brown, grey, white or colourless. The streak is white and the luster is subadamantine to resinous. Hardness (Mohs) is 3.5 to 4 and the specific gravity is 7.04. Pyromorphite belongs to the hexagonal crystal system and the habit is usually short hexagonal prisms, often barrel-shaped, cavernous, equant, tabular, pyramidal or granular. Pyromorphite forms a solid solution series with mimetite, Pb5(AsO4)3Cl, as arsenic replaces phosphorus in the structure. Mimetite also forms a series with the mineral vanadinite, Pb5(VO4)3Cl.
Pyromorphite is quite a widespread mineral in the British Isles and some beautiful specimens can be found at many sites. Below are some images of some of my pyromorphite specimens from around England.
Driggeth mine, Caldbeck Fells, Cumbria.

Specimen from Driggeth mine, Caldbeck Fells, Cumbria.

This fine, pale green specimen from the Driggeth mine dumps was collected on the SMFS field trip to Cumbria in September 1998. The extensive old mine dumps of the Caldbeck Fells are classic sites and can still turn up some interesting specimens. Most of these are small and take a lot of searching for but can have interesting forms.
Collecting on the Caldbeck Fells has now been banned as the area has been the target for destructive commercial collecting and much evidence of this can be found. To collect there now requires a permit from the LDNPA.
Wheal Alfred, Phillack, near Hayle, Cornwall.

Specimen from Wheal Alfred, Phillack, near Hayle, Cornwall.

Some of the best pyromorphite in Cornwall was found at Wheal Alfred, Phillack, near Hayle. This was an old tin mine that also produced some copper in later years it finally closed in 1862. Pyromorphite from this location is now rare but can still be found on sale. This specimen was purchased from the mineral dealer Sam Weller in 1994.
Flory Island, Watergate Bay, Cornwall.

Specimen from Flory Island, Watergate Bay, Cornwall.

Flory Island, is situated at the southern end of Watergate Bay, Cornwall in the oldest rocks, with the exception of the Lizard, between Padstow and Falmouth, being about 400 million years old, The iron stained killas (Cornish mining term for metamorphic rock of sedimentary origin) in the area is very loose and crumbly with small cavities lined with beautiful green pyromorphite.
Burgham Mine, Shelve, Shropshire.

Specimen from Burgham Mine, Shelve, Shropshire.

Small olive-green pyromorphite crystals liberally covering a black, botryoidal psilomelane matrix from the old mine at Burgham, near Shelve, Shropshire.
Whatley Quarry, Frome, Somerset.

Small crystal sprays from Whatley Quarry, Frome, Somerset..

These very small (2 mm - 3 mm) pale green hexagonal crystals are on a friable matrix of iron and manganese oxides. They were found in a single loose boulder at Whatley quarry in 1990 and nothing similar has since been reported.
(Editors note:) Analysis by R. Turner of supposed specimens of 'pyromorphite' from nearby Torr Works quarry (Merehead) were actually found to be greenish coloured mimetite. Given that pyromorphite has not been found to occur at Torr Works then it is possible that this specimen is also mimetite. This would need confirmation.
Reference: [Turner, R.W., (2006) A Mechanism for the formation of the Mineralised Mn Deposits at Merehead Quarry, Cranmore, Somerset, England. Min. Mag. vol. 70, no. 6, pp 629 - 653]
White Rake, Tideswell, Derbyshire.

Specimen from White Rake, Tideswell, Derbyshire.

This specimen was collected from the old dumps at White Rake, Derbyshire. The dumps were being reworked for fluorite and them back filled with landfill waste. It appears that these were recent dump formed crystals in one small area which has now been infilled.

This page is reproduced in memory of Jim Goulding (1923 - 2010), one of the last gentleman mineral collectors.

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