Eye Eye Captain…

August 9, 2013 | Posted in 1080p, calcite, chesty, culvert, DSLR, EOS, GoPro Hero2, great northern railway, LED, rail, Railway, sync below, Tunnel, Underground, victorian | By

Been trying to find the perfect lighting rig for the GoPro Hero2 for months and never found anything I was happy with so this was a visit to a short but sweet local culvert to try something else out…

4 x 64 LED lights on a handheld frame running at a supposed 5500K (doesn’t look like 5500K if you ask me) and the GoPro was mounted on the Chesty harness.

This is a lot of light in a small space but the Hero2 still struggles to keep up so its reached the end of the line, he’s going on FleaBay very soon and I’ll drop some shekels on a Hero3 Black Edition 🙂

There’s a handful of stills at the bottom shot on the Canon on the way back through, check the pesky flies that quite artistically fooked the long exposure shots up :-p

Flies ignore long exposures…

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2013 – Carpe diem…Carpe diem!!!

January 2, 2013 | Posted in George Stephenson, LNWR, Lumix TZ6, Oxenden, Portal, Railway, Tunnel, vent shaft | By

2012 kind of sucked regarding exploring and ultimately was a disappointment….lots of doors where ‘shut’ in our faces thanks to the narcissistic actions of others (you know who you are, I know who some of you are….and really you SHOULD know better), locations sealed, locations burned…blah blah blah.

The year ended with an epic though, that I can’t talk about in public, so it wasn’t all bad. So while we were out yesterday walking off some of the Xmas Fat we decided the whole Carpe diem thing should apply this year……work hard at making opportunities, hit things fast instead of sitting on them (so they get discovered by others and burned…), well that’s the theory and it’s easy to be so full of enthusiasm in January LOL!

A few pix of the twin bores we visited, there’s another pair about 1.5 miles south that we also went to, (so ended up walking about 5 miles), nothing too exciting I know.

All shots handheld on the Lumix TZ6

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Wakerley Quarries – Partington Steel & Iron Co Ltd

August 1, 2011 | Posted in Bucyrus, Ironstone, LNWR, Partington, Quarry, Ruston, Wakerley | By

A departure from the normal program of events but I do have a soft spot for Industrial Archaeology so I hope you enjoy….Bell Bros Ltd (1911-1915)
Wakerley Ironstone Co. Ltd (from 1915)
Partington Steel & Iron Co. Ltd (from 1918)
Discussions with Bell Broshad began in October 1907 with some trial holes but quarrying did not start until November 1911. A siding agreement withLNWR (London and North Western Railway) was dated July 1913. The quarries ran for a short while before the lease surrendered and was taken over byWakerley Ironstone Co. Ltd from 1915. Gravity was used to help the loaded tubs of Ironstone reach the tipping dock and two horses hauled the empty tubs back to the pits. For some reason the earlier tipping dock was abandoned and a new one built at the eastern end of theLNWR sidings, possibly because of an improved gradient to the railway.During the operation of the quarry a row of four Calcining Kilns were built by prisoners-of-war and next to them an engine room containing a horizontal boiler. It’s believed the kilns were never actually used and in fact only two of the four were ever completed.

From 1918 and now in the hands of Partington Steel & Iron Co. Ltd the quarry was extended the opposite side of the Harringworth Road and the tramway tunneled underneath. Around this time a second tipping dock was added to the newer eastern one and this is evident today as the original one is faced with stone and the new addition is red brick. The quarry became mechanised in later life making use of a Bucyrus Class 14 Steam Shovel and a Ruston Steam Transporter.

The quarry closed somewhere around 1921, the track was taken up and the bridge under the road filled in, everything else was left which is unusual as normal practice is to restore the ground at closure. Today both tipping docks are clearly visible, as is the deep cutting of the quarry. The railway sidings adjacent to the LNWR main line are also evident and there are some remains of the weighbridge at the top of the ‘new’ tipping dock.

Sadly the Engine Room has crumbled but all four calcining kilns dominate the landscape for miles around and are in remarkable condition.

Apologies for the gratuitous use of Sunstars but my Tokina glass has a 9 bladed diaphragm which makes 18 pointed Sunstars so I couldn’t resist it…

Calcining Kilns
‘New’ twin Tipping Dock – original in stone, later addition in red brick
The next shot shows the original Tipping Dock (running from left to right towards the kilns on the center horizon). The treeline to the right of the photo is the Main Railway line and the long raised area from the camera to the kilns is the LNWR sidings.

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The Grove Shelters, Watford

June 14, 2011 | Posted in Air Raid Shelter, British Rail Property Board, Grove, Home Guard, LMS, Local Defence Volunteers, Project X, Railway, Watford, WW2 | By

Firstly I’ll admit this place has been done to death and secondly, this year I’m concentrating my efforts on stuff that has never been done before….BUT it was on last years Explore List and as we were in the Watford area it was rude not to hit this site up, plus at the eleventh hour this took on a personal twist for me so that’s why I’m posting it up…

I mentioned my visit to my Mother the night before I went as she has a passing interest in what she calls my ‘Dugout fascination’ and suddenly she became all animated. Apparently her eldest sister’s first job out of school in 1942 was at The Grove as she lived just round the corner in Watford North. I asked her to call my aunt to see if she could remember The Grove (she is 85) and apparently she said “I can remember it like it was yesterday”.

She could not remember her hut number but recalled visiting the shelters many many times on both drills and real air raids and also that another family relative worked there but in huts ‘the other side of the field’. This was all news to me as I was unaware I had an underground WW2 family connection 🙂

The London, Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS) had previously (and on the quiet) acquired The Grove for use as its headquarters in the event of war. Following Italy’s invasion of Albania and during the Easter weekend of 1939, LMS took over The Grove. This was made ready as offices, and a number of huts built in the surrounding park as well as several substantial underground air-raid shelters. On Friday September 1st it was decided to move in and the transfer was completed before war was declared on the Sunday at 11 a.m. In a few hours the original Euston site had temporarily ceased to be the headquarters of the company, and on the Monday, 3,000 of the staff were at work in their new establishment.

A fuller and more detailed account can be read here: http://rastall.com/grove/projectx.html

The shelters were built out of concrete section in cut ‘n’ cover fashion and this particular one is very large with multiple entrances. After a few minutes though the repetition kicks in and it starts to get boring, nevertheless we walked round the entire thing and ended up trying to find the biggest spider possible down near ‘Entrance M’

For the photo geeks reading, there were massive variances in shades of concrete in this shelter so despite using the same light source for virtually all the shots and also the same colour temperature in post they still look like some were shot on different glass 🙁

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Catesby Tunnel, Northamptonshire

February 8, 2011 | Posted in calcite, Canon, catesby, culvert, Portal, Railway, Ruston, Tunnel, vent shaft | By

Abandoned railway tunnels can be a bit dull after you’ve done a few, as a rule they are dark, straight and mostly featurless. I’ve had my fill I suppose and they don’t really ‘blow up my skirt’ anymore, however Catesby presented itself as an opportunity and it was rude to say no…

Catesby Tunnel is a little more interesting than your average tunnel, mainly ‘cos its a big boy. I believe it’s somewhere around the fifth longest, behind stuff like Rhondda, both Woodhead’s, and Standedge.

Interesting features that also set this tunnel aside from many are the culvert that runs the entire length of the tunnel under the tunnel floor, accessed by catchpits (yes I stupidly crawled in there with no waders, up to my waist in freezing water to get the shot below), the three large Rest Cabins built into the up-side wall (one found to contain a sadly ransacked GeoCache) and the five air-shafts that these days spectacularly pour water down into the already flooded tunnel (the north end was knee hight on this visit).

Not many photo’s as I managed to flood my 40D and it packed up for a few hours….

Some history, copyright © Graeme Bickerdike/Forgotten Relics

The 2,997-yard structure was cut by T Oliver & Son of Horsham as part of the Great Central’s ‘London Extension’ construction contract No.4. It passes through the upper beds of the lower Lias and the lower beds of the middle Lias. 27 feet wide and 25 feet 6 inches high, Catesby is straight throughout and on a rising gradient of 1:176 to the south, with the summit of this section reached as daylight resumes.

Its creation demanded round 290,000 cubic yards of mining. Work to sink the first shaft began on 18th February 1895 and the last length was keyed in on 22nd May 1897 – a remarkably quick average rate of 110 yards per month. Progress was greatly accelerated by the use of Ruston steam navvies (cranes).

The tunnel was mostly driven from nine construction shafts, each equipped with wooden headgear which was used to lower materials to the men working beneath. None though was permitted within 500 yards of the north portal due to the landowner’s wish that the privacy of his residence, close to the workings, be maintained. As a result, 264 yards through very heavy ground had to be constructed by means of a 12x10ft bottom heading and break-ups. This proved liable to breakages and one part completely collapsed. The surrounding strata was under significant pressure which resulted in a heavy lining of seven rings in the arch and side walls, with six rings in the invert. These were divided into 10-foot sections.

Cut-and-cover was used for the first 44 yards from the north portal. The length adjoining this had so little ground above it that the two crown bars were laid from a trench on the surface.

The remainder of the tunnel proved relatively light work and was driven full-sized without headings. Here the lining is mostly five rings thick with a four-ring invert, all faced with Staffordshire brindle and built in lime mortar. Around 30 million bricks were swallowed up by the structure.

Very little water ingress was experienced, amounting to around 80 gallons per minute. Chases were built into the back of the brickwork at intervals, leading to pipes built through the side wall at rail level. Water was then discharged into a culvert in the six-foot, accessed via deep catchpits.

Ventilation is provided by five shafts. Four of these are 10 feet in diameter but the northernmost – 1,250 yards from the entrance – is 15 feet wide to provide greater air flow. The landowner did not want his view blighted by rising smoke either! The first belch from coal traffic occurred on 25th July 1898.

Trackworkers were relatively well served with regular refuges provided on both sides and three rest cabins built into the Up side wall. One is located directly opposite the tablet that marks the “half way” point.

Both lines through the tunnel were inspected by the local ganger twice each day. In the winter of 1906, this role was carried out by Joseph Turner, as it had been for the previous 18 months. At about 4:20pm on 4th January he completed an examination of the Down line.

Half-an-hour later, a London-Manchester express with upwards of 50 passengers on board entered the south end of the tunnel at around 60mph. As it approached the fifth shaft, a rail broke beneath the locomotive and all five coaches behind it derailed, ripping up 450 yards of track. The last carriage became detached and came to a stand foul of the adjacent Up line as a goods train was approaching. Only prompt action by the driver, who put down a detonator, and the guard, who sounded the whistle, prevented a collision.

Catesby Tunnel retired from operational service on 3rd September 1966 since which time the permanent way has been removed. Water ingress compounded by a blocked drain just north of the fifth shaft means that, in places, it is flooded to a depth of a foot or more. Calcite makes it presence felt with some extraordinary formations.

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Old Warden Tunnel

September 20, 2010 | Posted in Bats, Bedford, Dr. Richard Beeching, Hitchin, Lenser, Midland Railway, Old Warden, Petzl, Portal, Railway, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, Tunnel | By

This was more of a camera/long exposure/torch experimentation than an explore but some of the pictures turned out half decent to I thought I would post up a quick report.

Old Warden Tunnel was built between 1853 and 1857 to connect Bedford to Hitchin, before joing the main line to London. It was closed in 1962 but not as a result of Dr. Richard Beeching’s ‘Beeching Bombshell’ report. The tunnel is straight and runs for 882 yards. The western end is half bricked up but with a large grille at the top to allow access for bats. I’m no bat expert but I have heard that a rare bat called the Barbastelle has been found in this tunnel from time to time. The eastern end has been partially backfilled and the trackbed at this end is flooded quite deeply. Internally there are some interesting Calcite formations on the walls and at the far end a small crystalline ‘Calcite Lake’ has formed.

Most pictures were taken at either 15s or 30s exposure and lit with either a Lenser P7 or a Petzl MYO XP 

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