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Report - Box Freestone Mine - Wiltshire - August 2016

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by silentwalker, Aug 11, 2016.

  1. silentwalker

    silentwalker 28DL Regular User
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    History
    Box Quarry is by far the biggest and most complex of all the Bath Stone mines, it is in fact the largest stone mine in the country with many miles of interconnecting passages.

    Stone had been quarried from Box Hill since medieval times using open pits but the extent of the stone was unknown until Isambard Kingdom Brunel came in to town. Brunel built his tunnel through the hill which was completed in 1841. While his many men blasted their way through the hill they became aware of the vast quantities of good quality Bath Stone.

    Soon after building the tunnel several local companies started to mine the stone commercially, these companies were Pictors, Nobles and Stones. The mines evolved in a haphazard manner and pass over the top of Box Tunnel. Many of the mines ran in to each other underground causing the huge labyrinth of tunnels we have left behind today.

    In the centre of the complex is an area known as the Cathedral, so called because of it's sheer size, it measures 190 feet long, 100 feet high and 25 feet wide at it's centre. In the roof of this chamber there is a large hole about six feet across. All the stone removed from this chamber was hauled through this hole to the surface between the years 1830 to 1850. The roof above the Cathedral is only fifteen feet thick and a row of cottages are partially sited on this.

    From Box Quarry you can walk through in to the old MOD areas bordering Tunnel Quarry, this area of Box Quarry was used as an air in take to server the central ammunitions depot using the CDI (Corsham Depot Inlet) fan to draw air through the quarry in to the depots air conditioning system.

    The Explore
    Visited with @Porker of the night .We were not ready for box but box was ready for us, ready to swallow us whole. Our weekend trip was based around this vast vast place. We have been down many mines in the past but this place just doesn't compare, this is The Daddy, The Whopper, Big Bloody Bertha. A surveyed passage length of approximately 88km its daunting to say the least. Surveys in hand and compasses in the other (Pointless me having the compass in mine as I hadn't used one since I was in school) we set out a route and headed in, no turning back now.

    First stop was Cathedral, this took around fifteen minutes to get to and my oh my I was speechless when we arrived, you will never be able to prepare yourself for the sheer size of the beast. After stopping there for a while we decided out next stop would be 'Robots', an area where explorers have built figures out of old bricks over the years. Once here we then moved onto the old MOD area, this is the part that intrigued me the most, when we arrived I was certainly not disappointed, what a place! Sadly we just didn't have time to head up into the Northern section of the mine to the old cranes but that is for the next trip.

    Satisfied with our time in the mine we decided to head back, if we could remember the way back that was! Safe to say we made it out with only retracing our footsteps twice on two very small parts, so very good going if I do say so myself.

    The best bit of advice I can give is learn how to read a survey and don't whatever you do panic, in a place like that you will become exhausted very quickly and especially remember to take a sh*t load of water with you!

    On to the pictures

    1. Me
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    7. @Porker of the night
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    10. I see you
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    Cheers for having a ganders :thumb
     

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  2. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    Nice! You went in Bat/Back door I take it? Have you sent of your freedom of information request to get your video footage?

    That black grill looks new?
     
  3. silentwalker

    silentwalker 28DL Regular User
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    Grill is old, the picture makes it look newer than it is, filthy up close! And all the old dears cameras were on the floor smashed up when we arrived :rolleyes: Some hooligans must have been busy before we arrived as they were fresh!
     
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  4. Benyy

    Benyy 28DL Full Member
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    Great report mate! Really need to check this place out
     
  5. silentwalker

    silentwalker 28DL Regular User
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    Cheers man and yeah it is definitely a must do on the list :thumb
     
  6. wellingtonian

    wellingtonian Subterráneo
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    Jeez, you had a busy weekend. Great shots again fella. Alarm still sounding at the red door?
     
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  7. silentwalker

    silentwalker 28DL Regular User
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    Just a tad mate! We certainly get about and there is a brand spanking new pir up, someone ripped the last one down a few weeks back we were told o_O
     
  8. pirate

    pirate Rum Swigger
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    We're missing a trick with this camera.......
    We should be doing flash mobs of some sort

    Zombie apocalypse

    Santa mob



    Etc etc
     
  9. silentwalker

    silentwalker 28DL Regular User
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    Huh ? o_O
     
  10. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    Yeah real shame that is.

    Surprised you didn't have the MOD Plod out being that close to the red door.
     
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  11. silentwalker

    silentwalker 28DL Regular User
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    Oh we certainly did, we gave them quite the run around, they were doing the rounds trying to find us at all the entrances but we seemed to slip out unnoticed ;)
     
  12. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    Good work !
     
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  13. silentwalker

    silentwalker 28DL Regular User
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    Oh I get you now! I am all over that idea, already got the next Wiltshire trip in the diary ;)
     
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  14. mw0sec

    mw0sec 28DL Full Member
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    I love that place - been in many times over the years. At one time Jinnyrig shaft (those steps) was modified to make a more convenient entry point. Sadly it was restored to keepoutness soon after.
     
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  15. silentwalker

    silentwalker 28DL Regular User
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    They are some dodgy stairs indeed!
     
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