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Report - Monkton Farleigh, District 19 & 20, 2012

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by rustproofhawk, May 10, 2012.

  1. rustproofhawk

    rustproofhawk jah rastafari
    Regular User

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    District 19 & 20
    The main area of the Monkton Farleigh mine was divided in to six storage districts, 12 to 18, district 13 was never built as it was considered unlucky. There were two main haulage ways known as Main East and Main West. The northern end of both of these tunnels surfaced in to loading sheds, the Southern end of the tunnels terminated at the bottom of the mine in District 18. At the end of Main East corridor was the opening in to the South East emergency exit.

    A massive under pinning operation was carried out in District 12, all the existing pillars were removed and the whole district was rebuilt with regular, rectangular storage bays.

    The site was served by an arial rope way which transported the ammo cases from the main GWR line at Ashley. The rope ways needed to be replaced due to it's vulnerability to attacks from air. A straight tunnel was bored stretching over a mile underground between Monkton and Farleigh Down Sidings. A conveyor belt was used to move the ammunition from the depot to the train line. The lower end of the tunnel opened up in to an underground marshalling yard and a large platform for loading and unloading the ammo.

    Once the conversion was complete Monkton Farleigh Mine consisted of three main areas. The main storage area, districts 12 through to 18. Districts 19 and 20 were converted as temporary storage areas and Farleigh Down Tunnel the mile long connection to Ashley. The Western side of district 19 was walled off from the rest of the old mine workings. Part of these old working were originally going to be included in to district 19, the area was known as "K District" the original war department markings can still be seen around the mine today.

    Each storage district was divided up in to numbered storage bays, main haulage ways were fitted with conveyor belts to transport crates of ammunition around the mine. They were taken off of the conveyor belt and taken to a storage bay using a sack truck where it would then be stacked.

    The storage districts were well constructed, well lit by thousands of light bulbs and air conditioned. The complex had it's own underground power station and air conditioning plant. Above ground two buildings served as a boiler house and a cooling plant for the air conditioning systems. These two buildings are now used as a commercial business premises by Bannerdown Benching, the original chimney still exists but is not in use.

    The depot was gradually completed and filled with ammunition district by district until it's completion in 1941, it was now able to hold up to 120,000 tons of ammunition. The depot was fully stocked within a year.

    Huge amounts of funds were pumped in to the site after the war to maintain it's condition until 1960 when it was decided to be surplus. The site was run down over the next few years while the last of the ammunition was depleted.

    Monkton Farleigh mine was sold off by the Ministry of Defence in 1975, during it's period of disuse it fell victim to a spate of vandalism. Conveyors were ripped out, electrical fittings were stolen, air conditioning trunking was ripped out for the iron by scarp merchants and the walls sprayed with graffiti.

    visit with Pirate, datsun and a few other cavers, it was a bloody pain getting here but worth it, a great wander.


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