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.
In 1910 R.Quenby & Sons were first listed as millers after buying a 21 year lease on a local mill in Bromham, Bedfordshire. In 1938 they became a registered company as Quenby Price Limited. In 1969 they moved out of the mill and into nearby Turvey Station that had closed in 1962 (the last train left this station in March 1962) as a result of Dr. Richard Beeching’s ‘Beeching Bombshell’ report that resulted in more than 4,000 miles of railway and 3,000 stations being closed over a 10 year period. (During 1962 780 miles of track were closed across the country). The station buildings were used as offices but sadly they did demolish most of the platform.
In 1971 Quenby Price Limited leased the orignal Bromham Mill buildings, mill house and 6½ acres of land to Bedfordshire County Council as a picnic site, selling them to the council two years later. After Quenby Price moved out, the Mill was taken over by artisans making pottery and leather goods until a fire broke out on 20 Feb 1974. Bromham Mill is now a popular Bedfordshire tourist destination
The Turvey Station site grew over the years under the name Quenby Price and many of the original buildings were demolished and rebuilt to keep up with mechanisation and modernistation techniques in agriculture. The company changed hands several times over the years, falling into the hands of Unilever under the name United Agricultural Merchants (BOCM Silcock Ltd). I was lucky enough to have a tour of the site in the early 1980’s when it was fully operational and remember visting the old silo building and climbing the ladders to a high dusty gallery (long demolished).
The site changed hands again several times before being finally taken over by Cargills PLC and then ultimately its closure several years ago, it now lays derelict having been ‘made safe’ and also fairly well stripped by travellers.
The site comprises of two wet grain storage bins, a pre-cleaner, two grain driers, six storage silos with 10,000 tonnes of grain storage and two despatch bins. Everything is linked with grain elevators, conveyors and horizontal augers. In addition to this are workshops, admin buildings offices and a Laboratory.
UPDATE – March 2011
This site has been levelled to the ground over the last three weeks, totally demolished, nothing exists.
There was a development company involved who bought the site several years ago and I suspect it will soon be redeveloped as a residential site.
Not disclosing actual mine names as I believe these are sensitive locations and need preserving, also there are clear and present dangers to the casual observer, not least is the air quality in some of these mines. Human’s start going very twitchy at oxygen levels of 17% and 15% can kill you. If you wander into a heading with oxygen levels of 13% or less it is quite feasible the effect would be so rapid that you wouldn’t be able to help yourself and then its lights out….permanently. If this happens it would be sad for your family and would totally fuck things up access wise for everybody else.
I’ve been caving since the early 1990’s so being underground is nothing new. Low oxygen levels can kill you if you are not prepared…be warned.
Health & Safety lesson over, the following pictures were me messing around with long exposures and trying to perfect the art of Light Painting. Some obvious issues were encountered and lessons learned, one of which is that Xenon/Halogen light is quite bad for light painting but LED light used carefully is good, the other is that my current camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ6 only has limited settings for long exposure, namely 15, 30 or 60 seconds. These pictures are either 15 or 30 seconds, ideally I would like the option of less than 15 seconds but ultimately that means buying a DSLR at some point.
Since this visit I have invested in another torch which should help with light painting, a LED Lenser P7 which has a one handed focusing mechanism so you can switch from spot to flood. Every underground location is different though and in many places the P7 would overcook the photos but in others it would work a treat.
All of these photo’s were lit with a combination of Petzl MYO XP (85 lumens) with diffuser, Underwater Kinetics Mini Q40 (50 lumens) and a Surefire Executive Defender (60 lumens)
Dead end in a heading, unusual in that the rails should have been removed when the mine closed!