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Edward Thomas Borlase

Page Editor: Warren Allison

Last Reviewed: 03 Sep 2014

Edward Thomas Borlase was born at Bettws-y-coed in North Wales around May 1883, the younger son of Captain William Henry Borlase, manager of Llanwrst Mines, and his wife Rebecca (nee Corin). He was seven years old when his father arrived as Chief Agent at the Greenside Mine in Glenridding. His father was a well-paid man of some standing in the community, and in common with many others of this class, he sent his son to be educated at the prestigious school of St Bees in Cumberland. From 1898 to 1901 Edward served his apprenticeship in various lead, coal and iron mines in the North of England, getting practical experience in mine office work and underground mining, and completed his education at the Camborne School of Mines to learn the theory. In 1904/05 he assisted his father, then in 1905 when he was just twenty-two years old and working at Greenside Mine, he was invited to join the new department of Mining which had been formed in 1902 at Birmingham University. He was appointed to the post of Demonstrator in Metal Mining at a salary of £150 pa, under Professor Redmayne, an important position as he was the only other member of the academic staff in the tiny department! He had no academic qualifications, but while teaching there he was allowed, as a member of the academic staff, to write a dissertation on mineral dressing at lead mines, for which he was awarded the degree of BSc in 1907. He resigned his post in December 1908, and in 1909 went to Spain as assistant to the manager of the Calamon Lead & Zinc Mining Company which was working a large mine in the Sierra Morena near Cordoba. In 1912 he joined the great Rio Tinto mining company as engineer in charge of one of their sections in the south of that country, becoming chief of mines and acting manager of the Huelva Copper and Sulphur Company the following year when he was just thirty years old.

Soon after the outbreak of hostilities, Edward joined the Officer Training Corps before being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 1915 first with the Royal Artillery and then with the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was posted to France on the 23rd September 1916, where he remained for the rest of the war (it has been said that he left with the rank of Captain in 1918, although the Roll of Honour, his medal card and his obituary all show him as a Lieutenant). 

After his discharge he returned to his profession as a mining engineer, briefly as an assistant to his father at Greenside Mine in 1918, then at Bilbao in northern Spain where he worked for three years as the manager of the Lucana Mining Company, then as assistant manager at the Orconera Iron Ore Co. for three more years before becoming an independent consultant. It was at Las Arenas near Bilbao that his first child, a daughter named Josephine Anne, was born in 1925. He returned to Britain in May that year, and in 1926 took over the management of Greenside Mine and went to live at Greenside Lodge, where his second daughter Rosemary Corin was born in 1927 and his son John Malcolm in 1931.

Eddie, as he was known, was a small stout man and his wife Euphemia a tall slender lady, so the miners jokingly referred to them as "the long and the short of it". Each day he would drive up the road from Greenside Lodge to the mine in a pony and trap, or on a horse in winter, for the road was rough. Life was pleasant for his family, for the valley was a lovely place to live in. Josephine was very fond of the horses and learned to ride on the mine ponies when they were brought out of the mine in the evenings. Eddie was altogether different in personality from his brother, a serious man and a strict disciplinarian, and he ran the mine efficiently and well.

In March 1935 Greenside Mine went into liquidation and Eddie joined the staff of the British Non-Ferrous Mining Corporation and was sent first to a Portuguese mine at Viseu for twelve months, although he came back after 7 months to be the mine superintendent at their Halkyn mine in Wales. He lived at Northorpe near Holywell until he left the mine in 1936 or 37. After a brief sojourn in London he went to live at Grassington, where he managed simultaneously some Barytes workings on Grassington Moor and the Potts Ghyll Barytes mine at Caldbeck. Unfortunately he was by now a sick man with a developing heart complaint which put him off work for many months at one time, and finding himself unable to manage both mines he left Grassington and went to live in Carlisle, where he died on the 29th November 1939 at the age of 56 years. His wife Euphemia Birrel Borlase, who was born on the 19th January 1896, died in Lancaster in March 1983 at the age of 86 years.


Edward's father, Captain William Henry Borlase, was a Cornishman born at Bosorne in the village of St. Just, Cornwall in 1851 the son of John Borlase a carpenter and his wife Sophia. He came to work at Greenside Mine in 1889 and had three children. Edward’s older brother, William Henry Junior, was born on the 21st February 1875 at St. Columb but drowned in a swimming or boating accident off the coast of Pernambuco Province, Brazil in January 1933. His sister Mary Corin born in 1885 at Bettwsycoed in North Wales.

Captain William Henry Borlase died on the 8th August 1933 at Sandath near Penrith and at the time was living with his daughter Mary Kidd whose husband was Joseph Charles Kidd, a Director of Kidd's Auction Co - now Penrith Farmers & Kidd who are still going strong.