Saturday, 4 October 2014

Monks Park, Ridge, and Paulton quarries, Wiltshire - September 2013

I never got around to uploading these last year as I Monks Park and Ridge were non-public, and Poulton Quarry wasn't really report worthy. With another trip to Wiltshire lined up, I revisited these photos and thought I should post them.

I've just noticed that the photos have a random column on black on the right hand side for some reason (faststone, probably). I guess that's just further proof I'm wannabe.

So this trip came about with the yearly Wiltshire meet organised on 28, and after securing a lift with Maniac down, he and Frosty were kind enough to give Elliot and I a tour through Monks Park and then Ridge Quarries.

Monks Park Quarry

Once we had the early start and the drive out of the way, we made our way into Monks Park Quarry. Maniac and Frosty had a little investigative work to do, so I wandered around, taking in the vast cavernous space.

Monks Park was one of the last underground quarries in operation, closing in 2005. It was initially called Sumsions Monks or Monks North in 1886 by Sumsions. Later still, the mine was under the ownership of The Bath and Portland Stone Company before this later became ARC and then Hanson. The quarry was taken over by the War Department in 1937 for use as an ammunition and explosives store. However, the site was surplus to requirements in 1941 and remained unused until 1954. A two year conversion of 10 acres of the quarry, including a new reinforced lift shaft, then provided additional storage for the Royal Navy.

The quarry was largely untouched since it was closed - around the main entrance everyday objects like newspapers and mugs were lying around. Further in these object dried up, although there were bigger ones were available to pose on.

What's behind the door??

Further into the quarry every tunnel coming off of the main drive was immense, and seemed to go on for quite some time. 

Eventually we all regrouped, and made our way through to Ridge Quarry, not having to go back above ground thanks to a few missing bricks . 

These pieces of equipment are buried at the very bottom of Monks, and it's a shame that my photos don't do them justice. 

Ridge Quarry

Ridge Quarry was strikingly different, mainly due to smoke leftover  from the previous night. Unfortunately it meant the photos didn't turn out great, but as we were starting to get a bit pressed for the time if we were to make it to the pub on time.

Ridge Quarry, a small underground Bath-stone quarry at The Ridge near Corsham in Wiltshire was taken over in 1915 for TNT and cordite storage. It was abandoned shortly after the war but subsequently was to figure as a key progenitor of the vast schemes undertaken at Corsham in preparation for the Second World War.

With smoke meaning that wider shots weren't the order of the day, I focused on some of the original graffiti, some of which no doubt from the Second World War. 

The piece above was my favourite.

I did have one effort at combatting the smoke with the photo below. Normally I don't do much editing with the photos I take, but this one is actually two photos layered; one with the foreground lit, the other with the background lit. I almost got it....

Frosty having a smoke before we left. 

Poulton Quarry

The 28 gang started amassing at a local establishment, and were led off to the access in small groups, with our group being the last. We had a small scare as we approached the final leg, so we ran into the nearest pub for 20 minutes, and then went in as planned. 

Stone quarrying started at Poulton in 1841, at this time it was knowns as Paulton's Limestone Quarry or Bradford on Avon 8. Despite its relatively small size was worked until 1900.

As with many of the quarries in the area, After the quarrymen left the tunnels were put to new uses. In the case of Poulton, it became a mushroom farm as did the neighbouring (but unconnected) Jones' Hill Quarry and Bethel Quarry.

Some modifications were carried out to make the quarry a useable underground workspace, including strengthening work, the instalation of some limited ventilation and the construction of office and store areas.

The quarry's adit entrance is just meters from Frome Road, beneath Poulton Field, an open area which cannot be build on due to the underlying quarry.

During the Second World War, Pulton Quarry was used as an air raid shelter by near-by Fitzmaurice Primary School, some of the quarries ventilation shafts can still be seen near the school building.

 It was deceptively big, and was clean and tidy. Proper tidy. I think Speed found the place, so hats off to him.

 There weren't any real photos of the place as we were having a party, but I took a few. 

Two sound systems, disco lights, about 30-40 of us, fireworks, rockfalls, Speed too pissed to sit up straight - I think that night had it all. Shame I had to get my first aid kit out, but everyone was ok in the end. Big love to everyone who was there, the drive back the next morning was not pleasant. 

Thanks for reading. 


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