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Report - cert octavian underground cellar 11/09/2009

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by tommo, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. tommo

    tommo shire lad born & breeding
    Regular User

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    First up a big thanks to madrab off darkplaces for the spare ticket, originally I was to busy at work to make it and couldnt get out to get a ticket for the tour today, but at the last minute work let me have time off and madrab sorted me out with a spare ticket, cheers fella

    Today I had the pleasure of a guided tour around cert Octavian wine cellar http://www.octavianvaults.co.uk/, this is the only underground wine cellar in the world and its right on my door step so to speak, situated in gastard near corsham, the company stores all kinds of wine and champagne in the cellar, from your local brewery or wholesaler down to your minted celebrity and I mean minted, to store a normal case of wine in there underground air conditioned lap of luxury will cost u around £90 a case per month, as an example Andrew Lloyd Webber has 2000 cases in storage at the moment lol.
    The company normally use to store wine for companies, when the shipments arrive in the country they are bound to normal uk taxes and duties, but if your have it shipped to the cellar it is placed in bond, meaning u don’t pay the taxes or the duty on the bottles until you withdraw them, but u can trade them or sell them straight out the cellar to any one else in the uk and then the new owner will have to pay the duty on the shipment, now they mainly store for rich people where they dont have room at home for there own collection

    The quarry originally start of around the 1877-1880 around the time of park lane quarry and ridge quarry, originally called pictor monks quarry I have found some reference to pictor and sons ltd that where a small quarry company that helped start and quarry a lot of other quarries in the area, including box and also a reference to them working in the cathedral at box

    In 1937 the government took control of a lot of the quarries in the area and turned them in to ammunition/ bomb storage for the war purpose, again like so many in the area this was kitted out with all the relevant air ducts and lighting, all above ground defences where put in place, including a bunker a the entrance to the place, I am not sure when this was decommissioned but it was normally just after the war around 1945 ish

    After that the place was disused for many years until the cold war when property tycoons where trying to sell it off as a secure underground site for protection during a nuclear attack. Which they failed to do as no body was interested in buying it, after that it just sat empty and was being trashed by local lads until the 1980’s then it was bought by a small company called frazzers who with the lack of knowledge and money tried to turn this into a underground wine storage, but failed and the site was then bought by cert Octavian around 1986 I think he said, where they injected a lot of money and turned the place into what it is today, they on average take in around 24 thousand cases a month and ship out around the same amount, so stock levels are all ways around the same below

    The place is controlled by a state of the art air condition and monitoring computer that monitors the weather and moisture content out side and makes slight adjustments to the temp down below which is kept at a perfect 13 degrees all year long , they did have some issues with the labels falling of bottles when the moisture was to high down there, so its nice and dry now ,all the hall ways have had fire doors built into them, so in the event of a fire the computer will automatically close and seal of the whole site, to prevent the fire escaping
    There are 3 slope shafts in the whole site, one is emergency exit that doesn’t really get used much, one is the main entrance and the other is for a private company to use to get stock in and out

    I have tried to find out as much info for the history as I can, I have googled and read so much as well as crossed referenced everything, please feel free to tap me up on anything u feel doesn’t fit with the history

    Cheers for reading


    main slope shaft entrance and office block
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    second slope shaft building used by private company
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    every one down underground must clock in and out for fire and safety and like we did, have to carry a rescue rebreather
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    looking down the main slope shaft in mint condition (makes a nice change to see one like this)
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    bottom of slope shaft looking up at the truck stop used for any carts that break away when being lifted up or down
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    one of the train carts loading up with pop lol
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    map of the place, we only looked round district 5 and that took just over an hour
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    ex mod generator fitted in the 40's, we where told that there is a plan to get it going again, they have been told it will need a small amount of work and it will start striaght up
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    again more mod switch gear in full working condition
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    there are alot of old bomb proof doors still in place and working that connect through to the diffrent districts
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    very long passage ways about 400 metres long each way from where i was standing
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    district 5 entrance where it meets the long passage way, the red hatch looks like where the conveyor belt would of run from the old mod days
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    a couple of shots of the stock all nicely stacked up ready to be taken out for a party, each box has a customer label so they can get a box or pallet at a time if they like
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    [​IMG]


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    mod air ducting still in place all over the place
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    mod pillar this design is well know in other sites around corsham
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    there where alot of diffrent folklifts and cherry pickers floating around,they just worked around us
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    old electrical box fitted in the 40's still used today
    [​IMG]
     
    #1 tommo, Sep 11, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2009

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  2. tommo

    tommo shire lad born & breeding
    Regular User

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    here are some of the old pics of the site in 1982 before it was taken over by cert octavian and also pics of the sales brochure from the cold war period

    big thanks to root for letting me use these pics and also to mole for taking them :thumb


    slope shaft 1 now the main entrance and office block
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    slope shaft 2 now the private company entrance
    [​IMG]

    sales broucher for your little peice of underground protection in the cold war, the rooms where on a 99year lease for a capital considiration of £6000 and this would get u a 13ft x 14ft room with 4 bunks, these where a standard unit for 4 persons.but u could have something larger and they would also let u mortgage it

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Nikola

    Nikola 28DL Member
    28DL Member

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    Back in 1990 I was working for a company based in Aberdeen Scotland and our owner was also the owner of Cert Octavian. My company normally designed and built underwater control systems and submarines for the oil and gas industry, but we got the job of designing and installing a replacement air conditioning system for the Corsham store. The history as I remember is was as follows:

    The MOD sold the site to a scrap merchant who ripped out the bomb transport railway system and anything non-ferrous that could be reclaimed (in the 70’s I think). There were some big copper condenser units for the original air conditioning system (run from a topside ammonia based chiller plant with light steam re-heating) – so these were the first to go.

    The story I heard was that the scrappy paid £1M for the site, and made about the same amount from the scrap metal. He then sold up to Frazers (the original vintners) for a further £1M who got swallowed up by Cert some time later.

    Over the few years when Frazers were running the place there was no dehumidification running so the RH below ground was steadily rising, and in certain districts this was crashing through the dew-point causing the wine bottle labels to go mouldy and drop off. This became a big issue for the owners so the ‘boffins’ were drafted in!

    We installed a network of temperature and humidity sensors that mapped the air quality in all the areas underground. We replaced an old slipring motor on one of the two huge fans that drove the aircon system with a new variable speed unit and took control of a number of vertical ventilation shafts with their own blower fans.

    A super-accurate RH sensor (chilled mirror type) was installed in a Stevenson screen topside and this was used to calculate the water content of the ambient outside air. When the water content and outdoor temperature fitted the dehumidification requirements we opened up the shutters on the ventilation shafts automatically and circulated outdoor air throughout the site.

    The ducting and original dehumidification plant is a work of art. The big fans are located at the ends of two ‘pressure shafts’ that feed multiple branched ducts that reach into the far corners of the rabbit warren like the branches of a tree, getting ever smaller as they go. Beautiful.

    The big fans are about 12’ to 14’ diameter and are fitted in huge kort nozzles. You can hardly stand up in front of them.

    I have lots of interesting info and stories about this site – including things like:

    The ‘secret’ areas where the old sandstone mine workings are complete with double-handed saws for cutting the Bath-stone blocks, left abandoned half-way through a cut (just imagine – 1939 and the miners’ shift ends for the day and they announce that the mine is being taken over by the MOD).

    The old power generation equipment and its 11kv PCB-filled switchgear that allowed the underground generator to back-feed the local power grid (with its own blast-wall).

    The explosion proof electrical installation (FLP) installed when converted to a bomb store.

    Cartoon drawings on the walls done by the soldiers on sentry duty. Vera Lynn, Hitler amongst others.

    I will have a rake for some old photos of my few weeks there and post
    if I can find them.
     
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