With out trusty guide Mr Ian Adams (aka Henllan) we set off for our journey underground. Cwmorthin Slate Quarry is a substantial disused slate mine found on the shores of Llyn Cwmorthin above the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales. It is one of a number of slate mines that circle the town, most of which were enormous enterprises in their day. It has a long and complex history beginning in the early 1800′s, with heavy underground development starting around 1860*. It was run by several different companies as a venture in its own right during the 1800′s. The earlier underground workings started at “Lake Level”, so called due to the entrance being just above the surface of the nearby Llyn Cwmorthin, and ascended upwards in the mountain ultimately for 8 floors in both the Old and Back Vein. Poor working practices and reckless engineering decisions ultimately led to a substantial collapse and the end of that company. A new company took the mine on afterwards and reused Lake Level but sealed off the shattered and dangerous upper floors. Instead, they developed new workings below, going down into the mountain. Ultimately this company sunk five floors on both veins, before itself being being forcibly closed in 1901 due to a legal dispute. The now abandoned lower floors flooded up to Lake Level, containing an immense amount of water hundreds of feet deep, which remained until the early 1930′s. The neighbouring mine (Oakeley Quarries) were at this time driving underneath the [...]
Clipstone Colliery was built on the site of Clipstone Army Camp in 1926 by the Bolsover Mining Company. It was built as a model village with the latest housing and facilities to provide accommodation and recreation for the mines workers. In 1922 the shafts were sunk at Clipstone colliery to exploit the top hard seam. In 1950′s the National Coal Board Conducted a series of modernisations deepening the shafts and creating the present day head stocks. Standing at 65 meters they were once the second tallest in the world when they were built. The mine operated until July 2003 when it was decided the remaining reserves were no longer economical. Old Post from 2010 here
Hendre is situated not far from Mold in north wales. The mineral extracted from this mine up until the early 1980’s was fluorite also known as fluorspar. It comercialy had quite a few uses some of which bieng a flux for iron smelting, and flouride thats found in toothpaste. Fluorspar comes in many different colours and because of this it was also used in jewellery, most famously was the blue or purple form that is mined from the blue john caverns in Derbyshire. This mine is not the most extensive mine but the chambers are huge in this place.
A large Bath stone quarry, parts were used to store British art during WW2 and as an underground Royal Enfield factory. Part of the site is still used today by Wansdyke Security for secure storage space, other parts of the quarry are being quarried by Hanson.
‘This former Bath stone quarry was converted in to a sub-depot of the Central Ammuntions Depot. The site consists of two areas, the main storage area – districts 12 to 18 and connect via a drift, districts 19 and 20. Each storage district was divided up in to numbered storage bays, passage ways were fitted with conveyor to transport crates of ammunition around the mine.’ - http://www.nettleden.com/venues/monkton-farleigh/ Having first tried getting to this place several years ago and failing, this explore has always been one that I have had a passion to reach. This weekend we finaly made it, and I was prepared to endure pain, grovel , and ache like hell to get there.
Made a return visit over the weekend, to see if much has changed in a year. It hasent but we got some nice shots all the same. The last two operational chert mines in Derbyshire were the Pretoria Mine and Holme Bank Mine, both at Bakewell. Pretoria opened in 1902. Access was from adits in a quarry at Bank Top and the steep workings extended beneath the road to connect with the earlier Greenfield shaft. The chert bed lies on a 1 in 3.7 gradient and the mine was subject to flooding in severe winters. Illumination was by mains electricity in addition to carbide lamps carried by the miners. The first report can be found here
Kevin Quarry was used to produce almost 40 different products: road materials of dry and coated stone and powders of ground limestone which are used in almost every industry. They are also to be found in face and talcum powder, household cleansers, plastics, etc. The quarry itself has been mothballed since 2003 but the plant is still active. Plenty of unused buildings around the site. Due to the active side we had to do a bit of ducking and diving to avoid being spotted by the workers.
We decided to go back to Middleton for another look around, over a year after out first visit. We where not disappointed. The original report can be found here.
A bit of a different report this time, a guided tour. For 3 days this year the Heights of Abraham decided to open up the deeper levels of the Great Masson caves. These appear to be trials in the hope to make this a more regular event. The tour took us, first into the usual show caves, before branching off to the deeper parts behind a big iron door. Plenty of interesting geological structures, but perhaps more interesting to us urban explorers a fair amount of structures and artefacts left behind from the caves lead mining days. The tour had us crawling through gaps, sliding down slopes and squelching through mud, all whilst being given a highly informative history of the system by the head guide Tony Wood (Chairman of the Peak Mine Historical Society). I would recommend keeping an eye out for this event in the future.
Middleton Mine is the only underground Limestone mine in the UK. The mine itself is split over three levels and stretches a staggering 22 miles underground. Its unclear when the mine originally opened but its origins date back to when one part of it was used for lead mining. It was only in the 1900s that the mine turned to Limestone mining. This place was truly massive, just the size of the main tunnels is breath taking. We most likely didn’t event cover a 5th of the mines on our trip here, as we where quite wary of getting lost in the huge amount of tunnels. Anyway on with the photos Update: We made a return visit here in march 2011, take a look at it here.
The last two operational chert mines in Derbyshire were the Pretoria Mine and Holme Bank Mine, both at Bakewell. Pretoria opened in 1902. Access was from adits in a quarry at Bank Top and the steep workings extended beneath the road to connect with the earlier Greenfield shaft. The chert bed lies on a 1 in 3.7 gradient and the mine was subject to flooding in severe winters. Illumination was by mains electricity in addition to carbide lamps carried by the miners. Permission may be obtained to visit this mine.