You have probably already read about our new discovery within the trench in the floor of the Banqueting Hall. This find is a short rock cut tunnel leading into another previously undiscovered chamber alongside the Banqueting Hall. We have always suspected that this chamber or passage existed from Army surveys of the Tunnels. There has been a lot of interest in the last few weeks with people asking how we are progressing within this new chamber.
Well, so far we have done very little inside the chamber. We started preparation work, which included completing the required risk assessments and method statements that would enable us to commence work on our new find.
With this paperwork now completed and accepted by LCC, we widened the entrance to the new Chamber by chipping away bricks from the extremely large buttress that blocks the way in. This allowed us to clear the area immediately inside the entrance, making room to build a scaffold structure, designed to give our diggers protection within the chamber as agreed in the method of working, submitted to LCC.
But before we could build this, we needed scaffold, So an appeal was put out on both our Social Media accounts, Twitter and Facebook. There was a great response, with lots of people sharing the posts, meaning word getting around quickly.
Thankfully the appeal worked, and as a result we were contacted by Morgan Sindall Ltd who put us in touch with their Scaffold Supplier, Cheshire Scaffolding Ltd. We are very grateful to Morgan Sindall and Cheshire Scaffolding for agreeing to help us out by not only donating the scaffolding that we need, (and some extra too), but for also delivering it to us.
With this donated scaffold, we have now been able to construct the required structure within the chamber, which can be seen in the photos below. This structure is a protection cage, which will protect us from any infill slides or collapses whilst we survey the structure for safety.
We always suspected from the army plans, that there would be a long tunnel or passage running alongside the Banqueting Hall, and perhaps even longer, running from Mason Street towards, and hopefully leading into the Great Tunnel. The first impressions from our excavations seem to bear that out. What we first thought was a short chamber, about nine feet long, with a brick-arched roof, now seems to be a section of tunnel between two massive brick-built buttresses. We have reason to believe from plans in our possession, that these were supports for the floor of the drill hall which the army built on the Magnet site. These buttresses were built up through the tunnel, and we have now discovered a third one beyond the stone arch. We have revealed enough of the structure to see that the brick-arched roof springs from solid bedrock on both sides. It measures about 4.5 metres across, which is about the same width as the wider section of the Banqueting Hall, and from our point of entry, it stands over 5 metres high. The entry hole into the new tunnel, at the deepest point in the Banqueting Hall, is about 12 metres below ground level, but we also know from probing the spoil, that it goes deeper still. How much deeper, we cannot tell yet. The most important thing is that our investigations so far, appear to show that the army plans have been accurate. If they continue to be proved right, then this new tunnel may lead us in a westerly direction to join up with the Great Tunnel, which has eluded us for so long, perhaps because we were never able to dig low enough before. In the other direction, back towards Mason Street, it may join up with the suspected tunnel running under the street towards Paddington.
This is a very important find for FoWT, with not only the chamber alongside the Banqueting Hall but also the lovely Sandstone Arch, at the back of the new Chamber. We have not seen an arch quite like this one before, with its beautifully carved stones with chamfered edges. We hope that in the not too distant future, this arch and tunnel will lead us towards, or maybe even into the Great Tunnel.
Special Thanks from all the members and volunteers of FoWT to: