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Report - Bixhead Stone Mine, The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire - June 2016

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by Bertie Bollockbrains, Jun 26, 2016.

  1. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Visited with @Oort

    An impromptu unplanned explore of a Pennant Sandstone quarry in the Forest of Dean. Not too difficult to find but please be careful of straying into the nearby active working quarry. There has been recent cases of theft from that working quarry and they are not too happy about it and are taking precautions.

    HISTORY:

    Bixslade is a short steep-sided valley lying in the west of the Forest of Dean. Stone has been extracted continuously since the 15th century at least. The earliest surviving documents record a lease to John Hawtyne for the sum of 4 shillings. In 1675 there were about 20 quarries at Bixhead. In 1856 it was noted that there were a total of 320 quarries in the whole of the forest of Dean.

    Whilst most of these quarries have been filled in, today three extensive deep quarries can be found at Bixhead which together with their tips occupy an area of 0.3 sq. km. The mostly northerly is the inactive Pullen’s Quarry which once had a deep pool at its base (the pool was somehow recently drained due to cases of drowning in the 1970s).

    The next deep pit quarry lies to the east and is marked by an ascending curve by which a tramroad reached the quarry heads. It’s main face is to the north and at it’s base are the underground workings featured in this report. Now inactive, it was worked until the 1960s and the lease is still held by Forest of Dean Stone Firms Ltd.

    Further east lies the present active quarry worked by Forest of Dean Stone Firms. The quarry employs about 30 workers and the method of working the stone is by drilling and splitting with wedges.

    Throughout the UK, numerous municipal and civic buildings of the 19th century were constructed of the stone including: University College of Wales at Aberystwyth, University College London and the Shire Hall in Gloucester. Locals claim that London Bridge is built of the stone. More recently the stone has been used for the regeneration of Bath railway Station and Bridgend town centre.

    If anyone thinking of Birthday presents for the wife/kids/etc and thinking of a block of Pennant Sandstone as a pressie, here’s the technical specifications:

    Compressive Strength 91 MPa
    Compressive Strength Post-freeze / thaw 56 cycles 109 MPa
    Flexural Strength 15.5 MPa
    Density 2416 kg/m3
    Water Absorption 2.60%

    I’m too thick myself to understand what all that means.


    REPORT:

    First things first, in comparison with the Wiltshire Mines, the rock here seems to absorb light and it’s much darker with the torches pretty ineffective. Or maybe it’s just time for me to get new batteries. So apologies for the following photo fails.

    Bit of a steep slippery climb down to the bottom of the workings from the entrance and I wish this person would keep still when I trying to take a shot
    [​IMG]

    With large steps to overcome as well
    [​IMG]

    Huge high-roofed chambers in there
    [​IMG]

    Same view with a willing volunteer added for scale
    [​IMG]

    At the very bottom, a small pond
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Impressive calcite flows
    [​IMG]

    Lots of metalwork being used to hold the roof up
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Finally here's Oort's photos which are much better than the crap I put up. Unfortunately his camera developed technical problems and this is all he had.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Thanks for reading
     
    #1 Bertie Bollockbrains, Jun 26, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2016
    Mobutu, Kirkymole, mw0sec and 7 others like this.

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  2. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    I prefer your pond shot. Due to battery fail another visit is really the only decent thing to do.
     
    Bertie Bollockbrains likes this.
  3. Alohomora

    Alohomora 28DL Full Member
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    Nice pics and a good bit of history too
     
  4. wellingtonian

    wellingtonian Subterráneo
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    Good stuff :thumb
     
  5. The Kwan

    The Kwan funksoul Brother
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    Two good sets of photos, I love the history thanks for posting it up.
     
  6. caiman

    caiman 28DL Full Member
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    A great report and a very interesting part of the world. That Bixslade valley had the remains of an Industrial Revolution stone blocks tramway when I first went there in the early 1980s and also a little coal mine - long since disappeared.
     
  7. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    The coal mine is still there. Its called Hopewell Colliery and is open to the public for underground tours
     
  8. trailboss99

    trailboss99 28DL Full Member
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    And still a working mine as well which is kinda cool. There are some nice caves in the area as well which have been mined for iron ore and ochre for thousands of years. http://www.clearwellcaves.com/deep.html
     
  9. Kirkymole

    Kirkymole 28DL Full Member
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