I thought now would be a good time to kick off 2015 with my first report of the year
After countless trips around the UK to visit various mines and quarries, it begged the question as to what is located closer to home as there must have been mining activity around Kent. Throughout the area there are extensive underground coal mines and their history is well documented with some of the topside sites now sitting abandoned. All coal mines were capped to prevent access and with obvious hazards like gases and lack of oxygen, these locations are not accessible nor are we able to explore them without some serious kit and knowledge of the risks associated.
I have spent much time this year researching and searching for mines and quarries in Kent which may still be existent below our feet. Which is what leads me to this place.
I started to find reference to chalk, sandstone, and ragstone workings across Kent although they are few and far between.
Some years ago we had managed to successfully locate and explore an abandoned chalk mine at Manston and another much larger chalk mine at Eastry (both of which I believe have been reported on).
Next I began to research the old ragstone workings located in Westerham and with various members and repeat trips we managed to explore most of the main workings.
Next we moved into North Kent where I had been researching another large chalk mine, again we successfully gained entry and posted a report here.
I am sure that there is more to be found with regard to mining activity in Kent although for me there was one last major piece of the puzzle. A sandstone mine based in Medway was the target.
For years there had been talk of a set of tunnels based under Medway and there was even discussions on the forums about these tunnels that seemed to have disappeared with no trace.
Although I had always been aware there was something there and had discussions with other explorers over the years, I had never put any real effort into finding them.
I began to research the rumored tunnels and found a few interesting leads to investigate. I travelled up to Medway with a non-member Trav a couple of times and spent hours searching the area for any trace of an entrance to the underground workings.
Eventually we had what we needed and made our way home to devise a plan. A few weeks later we returned to explore the underground workings and after a small amount of digging we managed to gain access.
The last documented access to the mine was in the early 90â€™s although there was evidence that people have got in there since then due to graffiti in different areas and rubbish left lying around. Despite this we know that the place has not been accessed for a good few years and has almost become completely forgotten and lost.
For those of you that donâ€™t know any of the history:-
Kent is not particularly well-endowed with underground stone quarries but ragstone was worked as a building material, at least since Roman times, and is used extensively throughout the county.
In 1990 Kent Underground Research Group) got permission from Maidstone Borough Council to re-open the ragstone quarries in Mote Park.
Maidstone, like East Surrey, has its legendary tunnels that run for improbable distances between impossible locations, which suggests the likelihood of substantial underground workings existing somewhere. The Mote Park quarries were sealed with a huge quantity of rubble and hardcore in the 1960s.
The idea was to excavate the rubble out of the fissure until the expected open gallery was reached. The fissure had draughted strongly during digging operations, suggesting open passage existed not far away from the digging front.
Access was finally gained on August 26th and what was seen were in many ways similar to the firestone workings in Surrey. There were probably about 1000 metres of passage, though not all of the mine was explored.
It will be interesting to see how the workings compare with the East Surrey firestone quarries. Firestone was widely used for carvings and reasonably intricate decorative work in buildings such as churches. Ragstone was more often a basic building material, and did not usually lend itself to more than simple shaping, and was certainly not used for fine work to any real extent.
Once inside the workings it was easy to see why the mine had been sealed years ago as we found it to be quite unstable and so we had to carefully navigate our way through crawl spaces without disturbing any unstable sections.
After about 10minutes of crawling through tight gaps and over deadâ€™s then we reached the main haulage route which was a lot larger in size and had been built up with walls of dead rocks to either side.
I have now returned to the mine a number of times with various members in order to push on and explore all of the workings. I am confident that we have now covered the whole system and although there is little in the form of minerâ€™s tools, rails, etc. We did find some large fossils, wooden props supporting the roof and natural fissures which were all nice to see and definitely made the explore worthwhile.
Again, it just goes to show how rewarding this hobby can be when you put in the effort, research and persistence. Massive respect to Trav (non-member) for all the efforts he put into this one with me as he was on the case from the moment I mentioned the place, and to Hermy for helping us get in.
Finallyâ€¦.here are some pictures for you to enjoyâ€¦.
I am Conor, I have recently got into Photography and have discovered I really enjoy it, it gets me out and about.
I am using the Canon EOS 450d to take my photos, it is a really great camera.
I would love to go to a few places like Paris, Venice, Rome, Shachental and a few other area so that I could take some images there, I do not think me enjoying Photography is a thing I will enjoy for a few months and then I will drop it, I am only starting off and plan to become a professional Photographer in my life, I have never been so happy and serous with something I am doing in life and that's why I enjoy what I do!
Other then Photography, I am a very keen gamer, I always have been since I was around the age of 4 when I first played Spyro The Dragon on the PlayStation 1, now I am into games like Halo, Battlefield, pretty much First Person Shooter kind of games.
I usually use Twitter a lot and talk to many people on there, so if you would like to follow me then please do.
I have come to this site because I want to try something new, instead of taking photos of Nature I would like to go to places that are pretty much unknown to most people unless you are willing to do a bit of searching and climbing, I have never been to any abandoned places nor do I have anyone to go with, so let me know about any meet ups in the Kent area!
Here are some links to my accounts!
My DeviantART ( For my Photos )
Been holding off on this one while I attempted to seek out some much needed history, but regret to say I failed miserably so what little history there is has already been covered by Sx-Riffraff in his thread (http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=63509), I did however discover that the latin motto "Spero Meliora" in the stained glass window halfway up the stairs reads "I aspire to Greater things", it was used by the "Moffat" clan although the Crest does not resemble theirs ?, It also transpired that I had visited this house on more than one occasion back in the late 80's so that explained the great sense of Deja-vu I had whilst walking around the site, I do now remember that it was split up into two houses in one
Visited with Space Invader, Obscurity, Jade and Wevsky
Right on with my Pics, 2nd outing with the "Wangle"
"I aspire to greater things"
Sorry about the shadow, just loved the tiling in here
Glorious suite from "Back in the day"
Sorry for the sheer amount of pics, I took an endless amount and could post loads more but I felt these were the "best of"
Thanks for looking !
This site is in amazing condition and although this was a tour, the lady showing us around was more than happy for us to take some time to take photos.
Most of the smaller items have been removed to a ROC museum, alot of the larger items such as generators remain. The generators apparently still work.
After reading other posts on ROC Posts and seeing one for myself not too long ago it was amazing to see where theses posts reported back to. One of the guides was also an ex BT engineer who worked at the HQ.
This particular site was capable of housing up to 70 people, with enough stores for them to stay in the bunker for one month
Extract from Sub Brit - EXTANT 57 London Road was originally in civilian occupation and named `Fairlawns'. The property was requisitioned in 1939 as a new headquarters for No.1 Group of the Royal Observer Corps, who had previously been stationed in rooms above Maidstone Post Office. An operations room was built in the house using the ground floor and basement. Fairlawns was in use throughout the war until stand down. In the 1950s Fairlawns was relegated to being a training centre for the group control at Beckenham (19 Group). In 1961 a new semi-sunk control was built to the rear of Fairlawns with administration located in the house. Beckenham was then relegated to being training centre for 1 Group at Maidstone. The former 19 Group HQ at Dura Den, Park Place, Beckenham was absorbed into No. 1 Group in 1953 but was retained for as a secondary training centre until 1968 In 1976 Fairlawns was renamed Ashmore House in memory of the Corps' founder Major Ashmore. On closure Ashmore House and the bunker behind was sold to a local solicitors.
One of the latches on the main door
Thanks for the warning
Looking down to the second level
Door to the plant room
BT equipment room
Looking back from the BT equipment room back to the plant room