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Report - Burlington, Corsham. 2010

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by spungletrumpet, Oct 3, 2010.

  1. spungletrumpet

    spungletrumpet Super Moderator
    Staff Member Moderator

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    I almost posted a report on this site back in April.. Then I suffered a major setback: Speed posted up a blinding set of reports which, in my opinion, were the most complete historical and photographic record of the site to be found on any forums at that time (At least, on any I have access to).
    I don't really think there's much I can do to top the recent pics which have been posted. But, for those of you who might be remotely interested, here is a little account of why this site means so much to me personally. If you just want to see the pics, feel free to just scroll down...

    Back in around 1987 my Dad (also an explorer) first took me on a trip into Box. We did all the usual 'tourist' bits, then headed to the Wind Tunnel. back then there was no hole in the grill. The Burlington/Tunnel/Spring complex was still very much live and a roaring gale blew through the tunnel as it still formed part of the air supply for the complex. Most interestingly, there were cameras with infra-red floodlights pointing straight at you from the other side of the grills.
    My Father told me about a huge network of secret bunkers which lay beyond. As a young boy with an over active imagination, this was the bollocks!
    There was no internet back then, information was very hard to get hold of. The fact that the whole place was classified and heavily guarded just added to the mystique.
    I told my school friends about it. Unsurprisingly I was openly accused of being a bullshitting twat. In retrospect, I should probably have expected nothing else!

    Within a few years, things had changed. The Wind Tunnel had become very quiet, no longer living up to its name. Eventually, people got more bold and holes started to appear, CCTV cameras disappeared, we were able to push further into the unknown. Eventually we were thwarted by the now infamous 'red door' and the newly built breeze block walls which separated the old workings from what lay beyond. If you got close to the walls, you could hear the tantalising sound of machinery and plant running in the places beyond, but access was still little more than a dream.

    Other sites in the area became a priority. Monkton Farleigh became the playground of choice for a few years then suddenly I found myself living in a different part of the country and saw little point in investing in more wasted trips to Wiltshire and awkward questions from the MOD police.

    To cut an already long story slightly shorter, a little bit of info from a couple of South-Coast based explorers last year rekindled my old interest in the Corsham area. The last 12 months have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride!

    Here are a few of my pics which, I believe, typify the magic of the 'Sublime City'. They were taken at various times over the last 6 months.

    Fuck the politics and bitching, this is what exploring is all about. :)

    Firstly, it would have been rude not to let Dad in on some of the action. After all, he did get me into exploring all those years ago!
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    People have described the place as a 'museum'. There are definitely many snapshots of old times.
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    Our Government's obsession with 'Glitto' is evident everywhere:
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    Many bits of machinery seem to have been maintained in excellent condition:
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    Behind the telephone exchange, a pristine DC generator:
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    As well as telephones and other equipment, much of it never used.
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    Racks and frames every bit as extensive as you would expect from, what was at the time, the second biggest telephone exchange in the UK.
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    Huge amounts of test equipment were required to keep everything up to scratch. It is a techno-nerd's wet dream!
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    There are many huge store rooms, containing everything the city would require to function autonomously.
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    The number of keys stashed in various places around the complex is huge.
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    Vintage food processing equipment is now left to gather dust.
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    One of the pedestrian slope shafts, containing a huge escalator. Best not to linger too long here.
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    The warm, humid environment has been like an incubator for various moulds and funguses. Aspergillus has been of particular concern to the contractors. It can give you nasty fungal lung infections, especially if you are immunocompromised.
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    There are few remains of the BBC studio, but enough to leave you in no doubt of what it was.
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    Blower and sucker for the Lamson tube system. I'm sure this could easily be made to work again!
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    Boxes and boxes of these beauties!
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    Big stashes of mirrors and bowls:
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    I believe this is one of the devices for producing neat pats of butter!
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    Teapot and hot water bottle.. Just the thing to help with radiation sickness!
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    One of the many cupboards full of all the office supplies needed to keep the bueraucracy flowing in times of national disaster!
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    Typical Burlington roadway:
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    A curious little museum dedicated to the early history of quarrying at the site.
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    Containing the sort of tools you rarely find in the old quarries.
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    The bunker was designed to support 4,000 people for up to 3 months, cut off from the outside world. That's a lot of coffee mugs!
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    One can only wonder what the conversation would have been like in this canteen in the event of war. The diners would have been constantly thinking of the destruction and mayhem going on above.
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    The many store rooms are fascinating. Absolutely everything packed in boxes, catalogued and ready for use if the unthinkable happened.
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    Yet another store. This one in much worse condition.
    There are piles of damp, rotting, bedding and blankets.
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    Then yet another. Interestingly, modern computer equipment can be found here.
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    Finally, the instruction card for one of the Lamson terminals.
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    So, for my final thoughts on this place.
    White elephant? Certainly.
    Waste of taxpayer's money? Maybe.
    Bigggest 20th century folly ever built in the UK? Unquestionably!

    Even at the time of its construction, it would have been unable to withstand the kind of weapons the Soviet Union could have unleashed on it. The scale of the operation guaranteed that enemy intelligence would have been onto it immediately.

    Even so, I feel privileged to have walked its roadways.
    I have also been fortunate to have explored it with some fantastic people.

    So, as the culmination of over 20 years of exploring this area, the question could be asked, "Is there any more to be done?"
    You bet your arse there is!

    Thanks for looking!
     
    #1 spungletrumpet, Oct 3, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2010
    Raz likes this.

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