The village of Threlkeld, 5 km east of Keswick, stands at the centre of the mines and quarries of the English Lake District. The granite quarry that is the centre of the museum was opened in 1870 to provide ballast for the railway from Penrith to Keswick. It continued to supply ballast, aggregate and road stone until its closure in 1982. Visitors enter the quarry riding on a 610 mm gauge train over a distance of 800 m. Vintage excavators and other machines are displayed within the quarry together with some industrial steam locomotives. Visitors can go on guided tours of a reconstructed lead and copper mine, and there is an indoor section devoted to the history of mines in the Lake District, which produced copper, iron, lead, zinc and tungsten ores, graphite, barytes and fluorite, and of quarries from which limestone, sandstone, granite and slate were extracted. There are also opportunities to pan minerals from waste tips. The Vintage Excavator Trust has its headquarters at the museum.