Monday, 3 January 2011

Going underground: Part One

An Urban Explorer's life is all about opportunity and seizing the moment, something that happened with the latest explore. Some solid intel on access came to my attention and so the gear was packed and away we went.

The city of Norwich has many chalk mines dotted around it's particular corner of Norfolk. Some of these mines have made headlines over the last couple of decades as they have made themselves known to the outside world when either houses or buses collapsed into them!!!

I had heard of some chalk mines just to the North of the city centre and for about 6 months, I've been searching for an access point. That was the intel that came through - access had been located and verified so within 24 hours, everything was brought together to get in to them.

It was easy, the access point on the far side of a building site and just into a small hill (rare in Norfolk!!!) was free of security and workmen. A small climb up an 10 foot embankment and there I was, standing before a small hole in a concrete wall (a factory had been built into the hill and the mines sealed off).

I climbed through the hole and made my way a very short distance into the darkness. I turned on my torch and before was a white world of man-carved wonderment - hauntology in extremis. before me were irregular tunnels, discarded tools and to my amazement, relics from the Second World War in the form of iron bed frames and a toilet block, some still with their (badly decayed) toilets which were more like buckets - yes, the mines had been used as an air raid shelter.

I walked through the caverns, mindful of the structure, the dust and the complexity of this little underground maze (I drew myself a little map as I walked along so that I could re-trace my steps). A large cavern opened up and I walked through the bricked archway, thinking of the souls that had walked through this same portal when bombs fell on Norwich. Little indicators of the mines last proper use in the form of walk markings were here and there, showing an emergency exit, or the Northward direction.

I stayed a short time. The air was dusty and whilst it was nice and warm, my breath started to labour a little and I could feel a sweat coming on - time to go.

I shall return soon.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting place, Norwich, above and below ground!