Report - - The Norwich Chalk Mines: Part 1 - The Rosary Road Shelters | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - The Norwich Chalk Mines: Part 1 - The Rosary Road Shelters


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East Anglia is pretty sparse when it comes to the underground, we have a few exceptional cold war bunkers but not much in the way of mining. Norwich is the exception, the city is (supposedly!) littered with chalk and flint mines dating back as far as the 12th century. Most have been back filled or simply forgotten about but after a couple of years of trying ive managed to track down some leads on workings that may still be acessible!

Rosary Road is listed as having two mines, A and B but im not sure which of the two this is. I managed to track down some war time accounts of people using shelters behind the old Thompsons factory and the old Norwich City football ground on Rosary Road so i had a good place to start. What remains of the factory is now derelict and the football ground is a building site that has been left idle for quite a while, (probably due to the recession) so it was quite easy to get a look around.

The mine has been crudely converted but is wonderfully intact! Its about the size of your average dover deep shelter with two entrances and a maze of seemingly random tunnels, with some back filled areas that people have had a go at re-digging only to get nowhere specific. Theres beds, toilets, lamps, buckets, cooking equipment even a stretcher.

Rosary Road is the first area ive had an in deapth look at and i surprised even myself finding this. Hopefully with a bit more work and alot of luck i can uncover some more!












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28DL Member

In the mid-16th century religious intolerance and persecution had reached frenzied proportions and under Mary Tudor, Protestants and Lollards were dying in the fires kindled all over the country. In Norwich the site chosen for the execution of heretics was a large chalk pit dug into the hills nearly opposite Bishop Bridge. This pit, part of the Thorpe Woods and held by the Bishops of Norwich was probably the site of the chalk workings and limekiln which had been leased to John Goldyng in 1544.

Old prints of Norwich show Lollards'Pit as “…the place where men are customably burnt…†and George Borrow writing of this tragic spot said “… many a saint of God has breathed his last beneath that white precipice, midst flame and pitch; many a grisly procession has advanced… …across the old bridge towards the Lollards hole…â€

Long after the pit had ceased to be used for executions it was considered an evil place and was avoided if possible by travellers. However by the 19th century the site had become a camping ground for gipsies Today the site of the pit has largely been built over and a large gasholder dominates the area on the hill. The open space left on the site is now (1972) used by the E.G.B. as a dump for various materials.


The chalk workings around the site -from which Lollards' Pit was formed led to the chalk tunnels, it is said, have been worked since the 11th century. About a hundred years ago extensive tunnels of chalk were discovered under the hill by the Rev. J.W. Hayes, from which about 25,000 yards of material had been taken for lime burning. Rosary Road in this area was once known as Chalk Hill and near the Chalk Hill works on the rise of the hill some older excavations were found. Here two main tunnels had been driven into the side of the hill to a distance of about 133 feet. The tunnels were 10 feet high and 8-10 feet wide. Some 20-30 feet from the entrance of one of these tunnels, other small tunnels (about eleven in. all) branched off at right angles, each 50-60 feet long, one being 20 feet in length and about 10 feet wide. From these earlier tunnels some 20,000 yards of chalk had been taken, probably to be used as lime in the building of the cathedral. In the early 19th century the lime-kilns and chalk workings around this area were fully exploited but by the end of the century housing and industrial development had made access to the pits and tunnels difficult and they eventually were abandoned. However, they continued to be used as places for storage. Thompson & Sons, for instance, used the caves and tunnels when they occupied the Chalk Hill Works site as a natural storehouse for iron, zinc and tin, erecting two stout doors at the entrances to the main tunnels. In the 19th century Coleman's Brewery Company occupied the site and used the tunnels for extensive storage. The disused pit further along Rosary Road on the higher level was to be excavated and laid out as a football ground in 1908 (The Nest - Norwich City F.C.). The chalk excavated from these workings was transported away by water and another tunnel existed under Rosary Road to a tip by the side of the river. This old tunnel entrance with its level at Riverside Road leading up the slope to the site of the Chalk Hill Works depicted on a map of the city of Norwich prepared by Mr. A.W. Morant, the City Surveyor in 1873. This map also indicated another tunnel leading from the old football ground chalk pit to a second landing stage along the river.

Taken from the link http://www.thorpehamlet.free-online.co.uk/sub_goreham_3.htm

Hope this is of interest