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Report - Sandford Levvy Lead Mine (+ WW2 Auxiliary Unit Hideout), Somerset - May 2016

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by Bertie Bollockbrains, May 13, 2016.

  1. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Sandford Levvy is a 450m long horizontal adit in the Mendip Hills, running southwards into Sandford Hill. Two crossroads give short detours to upper and lower level workings but this involves difficult climbing and was not done on this occasion. During WW2 the adit was used by a secretive Home Guard Auxiliary Unit. Remains of bunk beds and flooring can still be seen.

    WARNING – the in-situ rope dates from 2004 and is probably not to be trusted
    ANOTHER WARNING – delicate calcite formations have been taped off behind orange tape. Do not cross the tape and please keep the calcite looking nice.
    AND ANOTHER WARNING – At the first crossroads, the dripping water sounds just like footsteps creeping up close behind you. It’s rather spooky.


    HISTORY

    In 1830, a Mr. Webster dug the adit in an attempt to locate a worthwhile ore body. A find of galena (lead sulphide) was reported and small veins of blende (zinc) can still be found. It was abandoned soon after as it failed to be a commercial success.

    A tight entrance descends into an adit about 1.9m high and 1.5m wide. This is horizontal and goes for 450m south into the hill. There are numerous speleothems, flowstone, cave pearls etc. Small deposits of coloured flowstone on walls and floor. A stretch of paving slabs is a relic of WW2 when the Auxiliary Unit occupied the mine. Their paving slab floor and remains of wooden bunks can still be seen.

    Although this site is not a protected hibernaculum it does play host to a group of lesser horseshoe bats which are protected. The mine itself has a very unique micro-habitat/environment… the first 10m is inhabited by dozens of large cave spiders… the next 10m by hundreds of stone moths… next 10m by bats and from start to end tens of thousands of flies which die as the temperature falls in early winter, then over time the calcite covers them and leaves a spotted pattern on the walls!

    Auxiliary Units were a secret resistance network of volunteers prepared to be Britain’s last line of defence during WW2. They were trained in unconventional guerilla warfare and operated in a network of cells, each cell consisting of 4 to 8 men. They operated from hidden underground bases throughout the UK. It is thought that 400 to 500 operational bases were constructed, with about 3500 trained volunteers. Information and photos of the WW2 Sandford Auxiliary Unit Patrol can be seen here (not shown directly as the photos are copyrighted).

    On a similar note, the GHQ (General Headquarters Line) which was to be the conventional forces last line of defence in the event of German invasion is not too far away. It runs mainly along the Kennet and Avon canal (Somerset to Reading). Numerous pillboxes can still be seen along the canal.


    REPORT

    A nice walk through the woods to the mine. The forest floor is covered in wild garlic. Consequently I have had meals with wild garlic every day since… Thanks Mrs BB for your culinary skills.
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    Bit of a tight squeeze in and down a muddy slope
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    And opens out into a wide tall adit
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    Many calcified dead flies in the adit leaving a spotted pattern on the walls
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    At a crossroads we see the zinc blende lode
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    A short side passage leads to a deep shaft. Climbing anchor bolts are drilled into the wall above it if anyone wants to go down
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    Mining drilling marks
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    A quartz geode. My photo doesn’t do it justice, but I can assure you the crystals did look nice at the time
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    Delicate calcite deposits on the ground
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    As we approach the end of the adit, the passage narrows and becomes wet
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    Calcite flow deposits at the end
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    Finally remains of the Auxiliary Unit Operational Base
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    #1 Bertie Bollockbrains, May 13, 2016
    Last edited: May 13, 2016
    troglodyte, new-age, The Kwan and 9 others like this.

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  2. HughieD

    HughieD 28DL Regular User
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    Fab pictures in such difficult conditions.
     
  3. Dizzydisco

    Dizzydisco 28DL Full Member
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    Looks good
    Think I might be having a little trip down fro this
     
  4. Tom Sykes

    Tom Sykes 28DL Member
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    He Bertie, I run the Coleshill House site you mentioned and we would love to incorporate some of your excellent images on the patrol report with full accreditation. Would this be possible please?
     
  5. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    ^^^ No issues from me, will be glad if you used the photos.
     
  6. Tom Sykes

    Tom Sykes 28DL Member
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    Thank you. Do you have a slightly more PC name we can use to credit please?
     
  7. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Huh? That's the name on my birth certificate

    seriously PM sent
     
  8. The Kwan

    The Kwan funksoul Brother
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    Really nice mate, looks a bit lush :)
     
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