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Report - Mote Park Mine, Maidstone, Kent - Oct 2014 - Jan 2015

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by obscurity, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. obscurity

    obscurity Flaxenation of the G!!!
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    I thought now would be a good time to kick off 2015 with my first report of the year :thumb





    After countless trips around the UK to visit various mines and quarries, it begged the question as to what is located closer to home as there must have been mining activity around Kent. Throughout the area there are extensive underground coal mines and their history is well documented with some of the topside sites now sitting abandoned. All coal mines were capped to prevent access and with obvious hazards like gases and lack of oxygen, these locations are not accessible nor are we able to explore them without some serious kit and knowledge of the risks associated.

    I have spent much time this year researching and searching for mines and quarries in Kent which may still be existent below our feet. Which is what leads me to this place.

    I started to find reference to chalk, sandstone, and ragstone workings across Kent although they are few and far between.

    Some years ago we had managed to successfully locate and explore an abandoned chalk mine at Manston and another much larger chalk mine at Eastry (both of which I believe have been reported on).

    Next I began to research the old ragstone workings located in Westerham and with various members and repeat trips we managed to explore most of the main workings.

    Next we moved into North Kent where I had been researching another large chalk mine, again we successfully gained entry and posted a report here.

    I am sure that there is more to be found with regard to mining activity in Kent although for me there was one last major piece of the puzzle. A sandstone mine based in Medway was the target.

    For years there had been talk of a set of tunnels based under Medway and there was even discussions on the forums about these tunnels that seemed to have disappeared with no trace.

    Although I had always been aware there was something there and had discussions with other explorers over the years, I had never put any real effort into finding them.

    I began to research the rumored tunnels and found a few interesting leads to investigate. I travelled up to Medway with a non-member Trav a couple of times and spent hours searching the area for any trace of an entrance to the underground workings.
    Eventually we had what we needed and made our way home to devise a plan. A few weeks later we returned to explore the underground workings and after a small amount of digging we managed to gain access.

    The last documented access to the mine was in the early 90’s although there was evidence that people have got in there since then due to graffiti in different areas and rubbish left lying around. Despite this we know that the place has not been accessed for a good few years and has almost become completely forgotten and lost.

    For those of you that don’t know any of the history:-


    Kent is not particularly well-endowed with underground stone quarries but ragstone was worked as a building material, at least since Roman times, and is used extensively throughout the county.
    In 1990 Kent Underground Research Group) got permission from Maidstone Borough Council to re-open the ragstone quarries in Mote Park.

    Maidstone, like East Surrey, has its legendary tunnels that run for improbable distances between impossible locations, which suggests the likelihood of substantial underground workings existing somewhere. The Mote Park quarries were sealed with a huge quantity of rubble and hardcore in the 1960s.

    The idea was to excavate the rubble out of the fissure until the expected open gallery was reached. The fissure had draughted strongly during digging operations, suggesting open passage existed not far away from the digging front.

    Access was finally gained on August 26th and what was seen were in many ways similar to the firestone workings in Surrey. There were probably about 1000 metres of passage, though not all of the mine was explored.
    It will be interesting to see how the workings compare with the East Surrey firestone quarries. Firestone was widely used for carvings and reasonably intricate decorative work in buildings such as churches. Ragstone was more often a basic building material, and did not usually lend itself to more than simple shaping, and was certainly not used for fine work to any real extent.

    Once inside the workings it was easy to see why the mine had been sealed years ago as we found it to be quite unstable and so we had to carefully navigate our way through crawl spaces without disturbing any unstable sections.
    After about 10minutes of crawling through tight gaps and over dead’s then we reached the main haulage route which was a lot larger in size and had been built up with walls of dead rocks to either side.

    I have now returned to the mine a number of times with various members in order to push on and explore all of the workings. I am confident that we have now covered the whole system and although there is little in the form of miner’s tools, rails, etc. We did find some large fossils, wooden props supporting the roof and natural fissures which were all nice to see and definitely made the explore worthwhile.

    Again, it just goes to show how rewarding this hobby can be when you put in the effort, research and persistence. Massive respect to Trav (non-member) for all the efforts he put into this one with me as he was on the case from the moment I mentioned the place, and to Hermy for helping us get in.

    Finally….here are some pictures for you to enjoy….

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    #1 obscurity, Jan 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015

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  2. Wevsky

    Wevsky A Predisposed Tourist
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    Re: Mote Park Mine - Oct 2014 - Jan 2015

    Good set that mate,and it goes to show what you can achieve when you put your mind to it :thumb ..
     
    Rik UE likes this.
  3. sirjonnyp

    sirjonnyp 28DL Regular User
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    Nice report dude, well worth the effort. I remember reading somewhere that there was something around the Mote Park area, but never much more than that. Great work.
     
  4. Maniac

    Maniac rebmeM LD82
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    Nice one mate :-)

    I knew there was something around mote park I've seen in mentioned in old newsletters from WCMS, I've just never gone looking for it so top marks for doing it! Nice set of photos as well, there's more there than I assumed there might be.
     
  5. Lenston

    Lenston Bajo Tierra
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    Looks good this nice one mate :thumb
     
  6. woody1112

    woody1112 28DL Full Member
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    nicely done mr obscurity, I gave up on these as the her for them states that they are only 50 meters long or something of that nature, nice bit of reward to be had by digging a little deeper :-)
     
  7. The Kwan

    The Kwan funksoul Brother
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    Lovely photos and lots of effort rewarded, well in :thumb were the fossils anything good?
     
  8. obscurity

    obscurity Flaxenation of the G!!!
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    cheers for the comments guys, was good to tick this off as it really for me was the last piece of the puzzle with regards to mining operations around Kent. Although I am sure there are some further bits to still be uncovered. (I am aware of at least two but I don't think these are really of much interest).

    The fossils down there were really impressive for sure but I didn't take any photos of them. I think one of the lads may have some photos of them which I am sure will surface online very soon :thumb

    The place is of a very reasonable size for the area but certainly not on the scale of the Wiltshire quarries and mines but it was perfectly formed and loads of interesting bits to see down there.
     
  9. wellingtonian

    wellingtonian Subterráneo
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    Enjoyed your report and lovely set of snaps. Well done :thumb
     
  10. Wevsky

    Wevsky A Predisposed Tourist
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    Just one from me mate,was a proper decent one this :thumb

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  11. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    Great report mate and a nice bit of exploring.
     
  12. obscurity

    obscurity Flaxenation of the G!!!
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    Cheers for the comments all certainly a good way to start the year ;-)
     
  13. caiman

    caiman 28DL Full Member
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    Looks like a great explore. Those yellow paint marks look like survey marks? Also, the metal screw jacks are not that old so it looks like someone has done a fair bit of work in there in the not massively distant past.
     
  14. obscurity

    obscurity Flaxenation of the G!!!
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    Read the report mate?? It was surveyed in the 90s when it was officially accessed.
    Yeah the metal ones are newer than the wood, I think these were added during the survey but certainly hasn't been touched for years.
     
  15. the126

    the126 Reckless & irresponsible
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    Nice one, not heard of this before
     
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