The surface dig on Mason Street exploring the garden path below the concrete has now come to a stop. Ben, our archaeologist is off on a dig elsewhere for a couple of weeks, but there may not be anything else more to find anyway.
Meanwhile the digging in the side chamber leading off from the Mile-Long Tunnel at Paddington is continuing slowly but steadily. This is a job for only a small group as the space is fairly confined. You may remember that we uncovered a small rock-cut tunnel about two feet wide to the right in this chamber. We have now excavated that out to find that there is a brick wall across it only five feet in, and a drain pipe beyond. We have now excavated down to its floor and are continuing to dig downwards in front of it. A lot of effort has gone into making the area safe with scaffolding and shuttering to hold back the infill. Today we have reached the floor in the main chamber which turns out to be concrete. Masses of very old brick has been dug out, which we believe to be from the original arched roof of this chamber which was probably collapsed deliberately.
The reason why this side chamber is of such interest to us is that we believe there is another deep cellar system somewhere below this area waiting for us to find the staircase that leads down to it. An entry in a trade directory from the 1880s, and the written memories of a business owner who occupied the Williamson building next door at No. 126, describe the cellar system below Nos. 120 to 124 Paddington as going down several levels below ground very much like our Paddington cellars. The aim is to try to locate the way in, which has probably been filled with rubble in the same way as all the other Williamson tunnels. For now we’ll keep digging and hoping.