Towards the end of 1995 several visits were made to the Old Wynd, Coalbrookdale (now part of Telford, Shropshire), following the discovery of a void in a well.
The land owner Mr. Boyce was of the opinion that the well held more water than it should, given its depth and diameter, and wondered if the Club was interested in investigating the anomaly?
Of course we were!
A further visit was made with the MineCam on 12th November 1995. This was lowered through the narrow slot (about 6 inches or 15 cm wide) at the bottom of the well to reveal a brick lined tunnel at least 2m wide and 2m high. Ben 'Dyno-rod' Shaw, managed to wriggle down the hole to perform an initial survey. During this visit permission was also obtained to excavate the potential entrance to the tramway tunnel at the foot of the hill.
We thought at this stage that the tunnel may have some connection to the famous canal shaft and tunnel system built in the 1790's by William Reynolds to take raw materials down the hill to the Coalbrookdale Ironworks.
On 7th January 1996, Club Members reassembled at the Old Wynd, armed with the electronic underground location device. This time Eileen Bowen managed to get into the tunnel to place the loop and perform a more accurate survey. The loop allowed us to locate the ends of the tunnel on the surface - in the middle of the fuchia's! Luckily by adding a couple of metres we were able to move the 'dig' out of the garden under the apple tree.
At this point one of Mr. Boyce's neighbours excavated a large crater about 2m deep with the aid of a mechanical digger. At the guesstimated depth and position, the top of the tunnel brick arching was hit. By digging down the side of the collapsed arch a route into the tunnel was opened up.
The discrepancy in the compass readings (see plan) was then revealed as a slight curve in the tunnel near the excavated end. It would seem that this was a tramway tunnel - possibly 18th Century, certainly very similar to many tramway and canal tunnels built in the area during that period. Whether it connected with the shaft system or the incline plane is hard to say, but the one end of the tunnel does head towards the top of the canal incline plane site.
Above, left: Club member inside tunnel - under 'well' shaft. Right: Crater dug in the garden to intersect the arch of tunnel.
On the 4th February 1996, an attempt was made to locate and open the tramway tunnel at the foot of the hill, but after a few bricks had been removed it was apparent that the wall was merely a 'front' and the entrance was probably some distance back behind a clay fill. So the wall was rebuilt and the attempt called off.
Thanks to: Everyone involved in the various 'digs', in particular to Mr. & Mrs. Boyce for letting us dig holes in their garden (and providing gallons of tea) and Tony & his wife (at the foot of the hill) for letting us demolish their garden wall (and providing more tea).
Report: Kelvin Lake
Pictures: Peter Eggleston and I.A.Recordings (video freeze frames from: MineCam: The Old Wind (M1))
The Well and excavated entrance are on private land and are not visible or accessible from public footpaths.
Bad Air - mainly Oxygen deficiency has been recorded in underground features in this area. Explosive gases are also possible due to the closeness of coal seams. Do NOT attempt to enter any underground features without proper equipment and guidance.