Report - - Box Freestone Quarry - March 2012 | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Box Freestone Quarry - March 2012


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To begin with, a bit of history about Box Freestone Quarry

Box Freestone Quarry is the largest of the bathstone quarries its name is a combination of its location beneath Box hill and the type of stone it produced. a free stone is one which can be worked with a chisel to produce architectural moldings and tracery. The fine lime stone produced in the Bath area is prime example of a freestone. Quarrying on Box hill dates back to medieval times when the stone was extracted from pits in the hillside where the stone reached the surface. Later quarrying would take place around vertical shafts and it is this method of mining which lead to the construction of one of Box Freestone's most spectacular features, The Cathedral which was quarried via vertical shaft between 1830 and 1850.

The Construction of Brunnel's Box tunnel between 1836 and 1841 revealed the full extent of the good quality bathstone beneath Box hill. Soon a number of quarries began to extract the stone form the hill. At one time there was total of ten entrances in to the hill side, originally these were probably separate quarries which over time became linked underground creating the extensive network of tunnels which exists today. Overtime parts of the quarry fell into disuse as the workable stone was exhausted the largest quarry entrance Eastgate was closed in 1906, while other entrances at Northgate, Westgate and Bridgegate was blocked around the same time.

The last section of the quarry to be worked was Cliftworks quarry in the northern district which closed in 1969, These working branched off a single long passage which open out of the hillside at Cliftworks Entrance over looking the A4. The passages in the northern district still retain the largest number of artifacts including number of complete cranes, Stone saws and an intact crab winch. Throughout the Cliftworks passages the floor is uneven with the pits left behind by the rotten sleepers which once supported the rail network in this part of the quarry, Clift works was the most modern part of the quarry with stone hauled out by a small locomotive, a water tank near cliftworks entrance was built to service the engine and the passage rooves are still stained by the locomotives exhaust.

Around the same time that work began on Box Freestone an number of other quarries opened on the opposite eastern side of Box hill. One of the these quarries bordering the eastern edge of Box freestone, known as Spring quarry was requisitioned by the air ministry for conversion into a underground shadow factory for the production of aircraft engines. 10 years after the end of second world war the northern part of Spring was chosen as the site of the emergency seat of government in the event of nuclear war. Box freestone was used as a lung for this complex supplying air filtered through the quarry workings via a newly constructed air way known as brewers drift. The drift can be accessed although the eastern end of this passage which leads into the MOD controlled Tunnel and Spring quarries is firmly sealed, a vertical air shaft has replaced the drift into Box Freestone.

Since the quarry closed the majority of its entrances have been blocked but three remain today. The quarry can be roughly divided into three sections. The northern district based around cliftworks passage still holds the most evidence of the working quarry. The central section contains the beautiful bell shaped chamber known as "Cathedral" as well as an area known as "robots" where bricks have been used to create an number of small characters. The western edge of the central district borders the MOD quarries, The Central district also contains the best examples of original quarryman's graffiti. Southern district has been abandoned so it is the most barren are of the quarry although it does still contain one intact crane.

Since closure the quarry has become an important habitat for bats and is protected by English Nature, although there has never been any official access arrangements to the quarry an informal arrangement has left two gated entrances which can be used by visitors. Any visitors to the mine should be respectful to the flying residents who's presence keeps the quarry access able.
Another day off work to spend underground with a marathon 7 hours in Box. Visited with MarkyMark, Kinger and Monstar

We covered a massive area and saw some really nice stuff under there.

Hope you enjoy the photo's.

No Box trip would be complete without a picture of Cathedral


An alternative view of Cathedral


Some of the passageways in Box


Robots watching TV



More passageways


Robots, our dwelling for a bite to eat




A red door, but not "the" red door. This one is different to the others and no-one seems to know what lies behind this one, or do they??


Someone doesn't seem to like Mr Catford


"The" red door. If only we were on the other side :(


I can't remember which passageway this was, can anyone enlighten me? I loved the tall columns here.


At the top of this flight of stairs was a rusty old ladder to the surface. The ladder was fucking high and only attached at the very top and the bottom. I climbed to the very top and when you're halfway up the ladder, it sways all over the place. The rungs get thinner and thinner, the closer you get to the top and bits of rust fall off as you climb, very un-nerving. The top is sealed but you can see daylight and smell fresh air coming through.


A stunning stone archway in one of the passages


A really well preserved truck, bit of a mission to get to but worthwhile


An equally well preserved crane with a selection of tools.



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