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Report - Herblay and Conflans Quarry - France - May 2015

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by Paradox, Aug 2, 2015.

  1. Paradox

    Paradox 28DL Regular User
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    A weekend at home and look what happens lol. Two reports in two days, thats unheard of from me! Sorry this one is also little long winded too!

    These are conjoined quarries I have visited a few times with various people. I first visited this back in April as part of what became known as our "Just one more" tour. Mr Pink did a nice write up of that trip.

    It's a funky little mine with plenty of roof fall ins, nice little features, some artwork, lots of columns (to hold the roof up) and many many mushroom growing sites. The good thing is there are plenty of places to string a hammock and if you don't have a hammock the ground is covered in dry mushroom compost and nice and soft to sleep on.

    On the first trip it really didn't help that both me and Bigjobs had quit smoking just before going and that definitely led to more than one Paradox hissy fit taking place. Getting in here was one of those occasions! I would like to apologise to whoever it was I rather viciously booted and shouted at to get the f**k of my f***ing feet as they tried to help me manoeuvre my way in! :eek:.

    AndyJ, Mr Pink, Stonemonkey and Motionless Escapes had been for a scout around the previous night and discovered you could get through to the next mine and get out an easier way. So in the morning half of us stayed to look around the mine and the other half went out the way we had come in to chill out by the river.
    When we finally came out we discovered they had all taken the opportunity to have a bit of a bath in the river, and feeling proper grubby I trotted off for a quick dip! It was sodding freezing :( and I got a few funny looks from passersby as I wandered back to the limo wrapped in a towel lol. :rolleyes:

    April 2015 visited with Bigjobs, AndyJ, Hydra, Mr Pink, Stonemonkey, Motionless Escapes and Morse.

    I visited again as part of mine and Bigjobs spur of the moment weekend trip. We decided to avoid sleeping where Mr Pink, Motionless Escapes and Stonemonkey had slept previously after looking at the ceiling and not really trusting that it wouldn't come crashing down on us. We strung our hammocks up between some pillars and after a beer or two settled down for the night. I'd already done the through trip through both Conflan and Herblay but Bigjobs hadn't so the following day we dumped most of our gear back in the car and had a nice chilled out lightweight mooch.

    The map for here is almost bloody useless, it may as well have been drawn by a child who couldn't decide what to draw so drew a few squiggles and added a load of question marks. After several attempts to work out which way we had come in (there are multiple entrance to this place) we finally found a point on the map I recognised and off we went! Yes we got lost a few times in the un-mapped sections but that was just fine by us. We had a cracking day taking pics and bimbling about. A big thank you to Bigjobs for being my lighting technician and teaching me how to use my camera in the dark. :thumb

    May 2015 visited with Bigjobs

    The last trip here I didn't even take my camera in with me, it was a handy stop off on the way home from our Italian/Swiss roadtrip. Thats not to say it wasn't eventful lol. We knew the mine was set up for tourist trips and there were electric lights fitted. However these had never worked in the past. One of the lads flicked the switch and this time the lights came on. Undeterred by the fact someone could walk in on us we set up camp had a cracking last night of our hols and eventually went to sleep. Turning the lights of before doing so.

    In the morning the lights came on again at about 7.00am then off again then on again about 10.00am. Thinking we may not be alone we decided to check out who the mysterious light switch flicker was. So whilst most of us started to pack up. One of the lads went to investigate, coming back after discovering there were at least two people knocking about.

    We decided this may be a good thing as it meant doors may be unlocked and an easy exit could be made. Waiting for the others to finish packing up I had a wander round and came across a part we hadn't explored, and two minutes from camp was an unlocked door. Yay!! easy exit........or maybe not so! I talked everyone into going out the door and climbing up the brambly hill at the back, thinking it would lead us to where we had come in the very first time. Yeah maybe not! We ended up on top of the mine looking down over where I thought we would come out :oops:. It was perhaps as well we hadn't come out at the bottom though, it was rammed with people. A marquee had been set up and food was in the process of being prepared and all sorts of equipment was being carted about.

    Eventually we worked out how to get down and ended up having a nice stroll along the Seine, as we passed the original entrance Bigjobs went to find out what was going on. Turned out there was a film crew setting up and getting ready to do some filming. We couldnt determine what kind of film they were filming due to language barriers, but decided it was of an adult nature, based solely on the fact there were a lot of women there. :rolleyes:

    June 2015 Visited with Bigjobs and five non-members.

    History

    Herblay and Conflans covers an area of about 60 hectares, it is more of a unified collection of multiple quarries and stretches for a good length along the limestone hill that borders the Seine. Herblay and Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, was operated on almost all of its length and to a depth of about 200m. The quarries are essentially extracted from multiple galleries, perpendicular to the hill, with simultaneous companies each have their own digging site. Later some of them were connected by small tunnels. This multitude of parallel galleries, in total is around 12km long, giving Herblay a very specific configuration.

    The exploitation of these quarries began to around the 17th century. In 1844, there were 7 underground quarries employing 40 workers and 7 open pits also with 40 workers. At the height of the stone industry, around 1861, there were 37 quarries declared. These quarries were also exploited by Parisian companies, such as Eugene Courmelon.

    In the 1870 war, exploitation of the stone was stopped temporarily. The last operator was Mac Colla. He operated the more eastern part of this set of quarries. It is not known with certainty when the exact date the stone extraction stopped, but everything suggests that it is around 1880. The last trace known use of stone quarries use was for the restoration of the Saint-Jacques Tower under the aegis of Viollet-Leduc in 1875.

    These quarries were disadvantaged in comparison to the direct competitors as the railway was on the top plateau whereas their competitors had had easier access to stations.

    The extraction of blocks from the quarry was limited mainly to linear galleries. However, some areas have been exploited in the form of large halls. Construction and support was provided by the many pillars that form the "forest of pillars". The number used here was far higher than the average, but this was due to the excess to which the quarries had been exploited and the limestone extracted to its extreme upper limit. The quarry roof is highly fragile and refined hence the need for excessive numbers of pillars.

    This excessive exploitation strongly reduced the stability of the quarry. To provide some stability to the exits, quarries built galleries with monumental arches, formed of cut stone. In 1762, they created a double arches forming an architectural piece which is unique in Ile-de-France. The date of construction is engraved on several vaults. This majestic build allowed the for it to be classified on the list of historical monuments.

    Mushroom Growing

    In the late 20th century the Angelo Trapelli began to grow mushrooms in the quarry and operated his mushroom growing along the former quarry lines. His son took, Michael, took over in 1966 after the retirement of his father. Up until 1980 the mushroom compost was prepared on their farm and wheeled in to the quarry. Then a new technique was identified for growing mushrooms in culture bags and this was mechanised within the quarry.

    Guided Tours

    In 2003 the city, along withe the patronage of local companies, began to secure some of the galleries to open to visitors. Apparently guided tours of the quarry takes place every Sunday between April and October. The quarry forms part of the heritage of the city.

    Anyway here's a few pics, I've included some from the original trip to try and show it from end to end where we went.

    April 2015

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    May 2015

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  2. Bigjobs

    Bigjobs Official Smartarse
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    Really enjoyed this place, will defo be going again, i'd advise anyone to make time out of any trip nearby to go and have a gander at them.

    Good shots there btw paradox
     
  3. wellingtonian

    wellingtonian Subterráneo
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    Looks awesome Paradox. Noice snaps too :thumb
     
  4. Lenston

    Lenston Bajo Tierra
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    Looks ace this, quality snaps :)
     
  5. Paradox

    Paradox 28DL Regular User
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    Thanks guys and as Jobs said, if ever you get a chance to go, do, its a proper interesting little place. :D
     
  6. The Franconian

    The Franconian 28DL Regular User
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    You are talking about me, I think.
    Nice places and pics you did, good writing also, nice stories
     
    Paradox likes this.
  7. jST

    jST LLS.
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    Looks great, lots of variation down there.
     
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