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Report - - Ayton Monument ironstone mine, July 2015 | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk
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Report - Ayton Monument ironstone mine, July 2015

Mutagen

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#1
Context

This was a mine that I was only partially aware of until @catbalou visited and posted a report last week - this piqued my interest as she and @dave used an entrance that I wasn't aware even existed so it went straight up my list of 'things that interest me'. After getting some rough directions, I headed up there last Sunday for a preliminary scout around (taking over an hour to find the entrance once at the old mine site), getting in eventually but restricting my explorations as one of my lights died within minutes and I didn't have my Altair with me (the Ayton mines are renowned for poor air quality). Went back a week later with my underground amigo, all my lights charged and my Altair ready for action. Had a good two-and-a-half hour mooch around, with O2 levels dropping below 15% on several occasions as we got deeper into the various drifts that head away from the entrance and managed to see much of what the mine has to offer the casual explorer. If I can grow a bigger pair and learn to deal with <15% O2 (I start to find breathing a bit laboured at <16% currently), I will go back and explore deeper into the main drifts .....

The mine consists of a ventilation drift entry with four other parallel drifts running into the hillside (one to the left of the ventilation drift which is where the furnace and air shaft were located plus a working face and three to the right: a utility drift carrying pipes and the two main drifts with working faces running off and two main roadways between them) - I should really draw a map and scan it in for ease of reference ....

History

@catbalou gave some history on her report so it would be worth reading hers too. However, keen to tap in to the local rush for ironstone, a number of mines were opened up in the hillside around Guisborough and Great Ayton: the Monument mine travels under the hill which has Captain Cook's Monument perched atop, hence the name (it was also named Monument to distinguish it from the Ayton Banks mine which is further round the hillside towards Gribdale.

The mine was worked by Pease & Co. from 1908 until 1931, so has been abandoned for over eighty years. Despite this (perhaps in deference to the air issue), there is still a good deal of equipment and gear left behind in-situ from the last workers to brave the mines.

The visit

Knowing exactly where the entrance was made life much more easy the second time round. You drop in to the ventilation drift and are met with this:

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Looking back to the drop-in:

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The ironwork that supports the ventilation drift is encrusted with calcite deposits and dripping constantly with water, making me hesitant to grab any close-up photos with my DSLR .....

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At the end of the ventilation drift, you can either go left or right: left to the furnace/air shaft/working face tunnel and right to the three other drifts. Let's go left first towards the furnace which helped remove the bad air from the mine.

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There are several of these brick walls in the first sections of the mine: I assume from the metalwork on the edges that they were to support air doors to assist with ventilation. Past this wall is a linking section to the furnace drift: the roof isn't in the greatest of condition here .....

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The furnace still has much of its metalwork in place, which is remarkable considering the prevalence of pikeys in the local area:

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Behind the furnace, you can see the cave-in that marks the base of the airshaft to the surface.

Running directly away into the hillside behind you at this point is a narrow and cramped tunnel running to a dead-end face which is flooded at its extremity - you also get a nice shot of a miner's shoe here:

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There's nowhere else to go on this side of the mine so it's back to the end of the ventilation drift and explore the northeast section of the utility drift which carries the pipework deeper into the mine:

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The O2 levels drop fairly quickly in here as the tunnel roof drops - we got about two hundred yards or so in before the Altair went mad - quick forward shot then a retreat!

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Once back parallel to the end of the ventilation drift, the utility drift continues southwest until a cave-in prevents further progress:

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A handy little cutting runs off left before this point though, through a low pinch point where the roof is very unstable and into one of the two main drifts - turning immediately right into the main drift leads to the cave-in at the entrance where the tubs would have been hauled in:

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The main drift here runs deep (DEEP!) into the hillside and is rumoured to join up with the Hutton mines under Guisborough - that could be apocryphal but it would be cool to find out! There is lots of stuff left over from the miners in here in terms of equipment and it makes for a really interesting explore:

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This particular piece of wood/steelwork covered a ten-foot deep pit whose purpose is a mystery to me:

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This next bad boy nearly made me wet myself with excitement when I spotted it, despite O2 levels dropping to 14.3% at this point and my Altair going berserk - had to get a couple of shots off.

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Note the massive grease-port on this thing. For an old bastard, this wheel spins like it was just installed - amazing really.

As the O2 levels were getting a bit silly in this part of Main Drift 1, we headed back towards the ventilation drift but took another left into a roadway which eventually leads to Main Drift 2:

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Main Drift 2:

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The O2 levels dropped again here to just below 15% so we headed through the nearest roadway back into Main Drift 1 and returned from whence we came, glad to breathe the rich, fresh air in the ventilation shaft.

An enjoyable few hours underground and definitely worth a revisit to see if we can tolerate ~13% O2 to get a bit further into the main two drifts.

Thanks for reading.
 
Last edited:

ACID- REFLUX

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#2
Nicely done matey :thumb

Glad to see you A. Take a mate & B. Took your Meter with you ;)

Funny i was looking at the various Mines in the area today online
 

dave

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#3
Well done sorry we couldnt join you today was looking forward to it. We missed out on the engine plane which i wanted Cat to see i did it many years ago without a meter and very soon realised just how bad the air in this place is. Cracking photos btw and yes it was said back in the day that it was possible to walk from Ayton to Guisborough underground. It is a mystery why the workings didnt start at the Guisborough end instead of at Ayton.
 

Mutagen

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#4
I
Well done sorry we couldnt join you today was looking forward to it. We missed out on the engine plane which i wanted Cat to see i did it many years ago without a meter and very soon realised just how bad the air in this place is. Cracking photos btw and yes it was said back in the day that it was possible to walk from Ayton to Guisborough underground. It is a mystery why the workings didnt start at the Guisborough end instead of at Ayton.
I was much later back from work than I'd anticipated today and was in two minds whether to go or not. Just as well we didn't agree to meet up. Would be up for a joint venture at some point though mate.
 

Mutagen

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#6
Nicely done matey :thumb

Glad to see you A. Take a mate & B. Took your Meter with you ;)

Funny i was looking at the various Mines in the area today online
There's plenty of them - shame lots are based on shafts rather than drifts though. Rumours of old forgotten drifts still plague me ...
 

catbalou

off the wall
Regular User
#7
Brilliant report! and great to see further into the mine. i was hoping someone with an Altair would pop down to have a look. Enjoyed reading that :thumb
 

host

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#8
Excellent report, top quality photography and write up too..looks like a really interesting place.
 

TallRich

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#12
how come there is always an old shoe in every mine!

thanks for sharing, good write-up too, i need to get me one of those meters :-)
 

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