View Full Version : Godstone Mines, Surrey Report 11/10/09

12-10-2009, 03:35 PM
A last minute 'Tag' onto an organised trip around these mines by the Wealden Cave & Mine Society. Saw me spend the best part of some 6 hours, underground exploring this vast labyrinth of tunnels:thumb

This first of two reports on the Godstone series of Mines.

The Godstone series of tunnels is quite vast and dates back to the early part of the 17th century. Here's some history on the Mines:thumb

Godstone Main Series is an amalgamation of 4-5 distinct underground quarries into one large complex. The southern series are the oldest, starting from the late 17th Century as three distinct firestone quarries.
In the early to mid 19th Century it was quarried in much further and on a larger post industrial age scale.

Firestone was quarried partly as a building stone and also for use in furnaces as it stands high-heat very well. The stone has no grain; it can be cut in any direction and is termed a free-stone. Before the industrial revolution and the coming of the railways this was the best stone to be had in the southeast without significant transport problems. Once better stone could be brought from further away more easily and cheaply the demand for firestone faded.

From around 1890 until WW.1 the site was used by French mushroom growers. There is some suggestion that the War Dept considered the site for explosive storage during WW1.
After the war there was another attempt at growing mushrooms but this was not successful. The site was considered as a shelter during WW2 but not officially used, although it is known that local people used to shelter in the ‘caves’.

Here's the pics:


The tunnels are pretty well clean, compliments of the French Mushroom growers:thumb


Sections of the roof are propped up by just dry stones that lean at precarious angles in various sections of the mine.


The mine was served by narrow gauge tracks throughout, although not much remains.


The emergency exit some 200 feet up! It exits out onto the main A22 road:w00t Didn;t try it as I did not want a Semi truck on my head:lol:


Miners bread bin!


Classic graff from a bygone period:lol:


The mine complex as can be seen on this plan is vast:thumb


The only entrance in apart from the emergency exit! Securely locked when the guides are not showing people around. The Marden Mine is even more harder!

My pics do not do justice to this vast complex of tunnels more can be found here:


12-10-2009, 04:15 PM
Nice one mate. I don't like the sound of "old dodgy" on that map.

12-10-2009, 06:26 PM
Nice one :thumb

I wouldn't fancy getting left behind in this place. It is huuuuge!

12-10-2009, 07:34 PM
Absolutely massive on that plan. Would get lost easy. Nice to see. :thumb

13-10-2009, 02:26 PM
The 2nd exploration of the day was around the Marden Mine:thumb
A walk of about half a mile along a footpath that meanders around the side of Winders hill, led us up to the entrance! Now if you didn't suffer from back ache before now? You will after entering this mine!
But first a bit of History of the mine:thumb

The Mine has had a long and varied history and undergone a variety of uses. It started in the mid 19th Century as a firestone quarry virtually identical to and contemporary with Godstone Main Series ˝ mile to the west. In the late 19th Century, it was used as a mushroom farm, this ceased during WW1.

The mine was subsequently reopened for the mining of hearthstone. This is essentially the same rock as was quarried for firestone.
The style of working is very different, firestone is quarried in large blocks for use as masonry; the passages tend to be square and stable. Hearthstone is mined in lumps using hammers and wedges; the passages tend to be rough and cut along natural joints in the rock, the end result is usually far less stable than a stone quarry.

During WW2 the site was acquired by James Gardner (owner of Chislehurst Caves) and partly converted for use as a secure bonded store. The western half of the old firestone quarry was sealed up with heavy duty doors some of which remain today. Meanwhile the eastern half was still working as a hearthstone mine and continued until the end of (or just after) the war.

On with the pics.


Eh! yes, This is the entrance into the mine:lol: It runs for about 60 yards and half way along the pipe is an iron gate that you have to twist yourself around and go down backwards:w00t


Remains of narrow gauge track are dotted around the mine.


Roof falls are a constant reminder that even exploration of mines is a dangerous past time. Our guide explained that the mine will probably be closed for good within the next 2 years due to this kind of occurance that seems to be happening more often:(


There are not many life forms growing down in the mine, but this rare white fungus appears to be spreading out from a rotting timber post:thumb It is the only living organism in the mine apart from a few reported mice.


Sections of roof are held up precariously by dry stones that lean at weird angles, I wonder how much pressure is bearing down on this piller:eek:


I have never been over so many roof falls:lol: At times it was down to crawling on hands & knees.


Some remnants of when the mine was used as a bonded store still survive! This safe door along with a heavy iron bar/door still survive in the 'bonded' part of the mine.


One of my Favs:thumb Don't know how this ended up down here, but when was the last time fuel was that price:lol: This is one big massive enamel sign, must be worth quite a bit now! Only trouble is its entombed down here for good, unless you can get it through that entrance tunnel:coffee


We push on over more roof falls as we explore more of the mine.

Even though we were with an expert guide, who knew the mine like the back of his hand! It is very easy to get lost if you get separated for just a few seconds, as each turn looks the same as the one you just passed:) This happened to me while I just stopped to take a few pics!


Darkness all around and only a light to see your way:thumb


Time to leave back up the pipe:thumb

I would like to thank the Experienced Guides from the Wealden Cave and Mine Society who showed us around and spent the good part of 6 hours underground with us. I would like to also point out that although there is obviously danger in any underground activity! These guys know what they are doing and, they did not put any of us in any danger, of what I was not already aware off:thumb

Thanks for reading this long 'Winded' Report:lol:

13-10-2009, 04:29 PM
That looks very good. I like the door.

13-10-2009, 05:47 PM
Well done, Fella :thumb

There is no way I coulda done this...........too claustrophobic by far!