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Additions To Cliftworks Passage, Box Mine's

by members of the Cotham Caving Group.

In Mendip Underground (1) the description says of Cliftworks Passage “…enters the most recent workings, much blackened by diesel fumes.”

The object of this article is to try to describe Cliftworks Passage in more detail, so that the visitor to the mine will be fully able to appreciate a most interesting part of the mine.

Follow AO route from the Backdoor to Cliftworks Passage as described in the guide.  Turn right at the water tank at the junction, pausing to look down the Well opposite.  Proceed along Cliftworks Passage, passing B11 and WO Passages on your right.  Passing under several dry stone arches and through a doorway, you will now be in an isolated part of the mine from which the only connection is back through Cliftworks Passage.

About fifty feet past the door on the right is the first of several side passages.  This one is roughly five hundred feet long and along its length, on the right side, you will find a well, tools and finally a crane. At the end are natural springs. Just short of the end, on the left, is a connection through deads to a passage which runs parallel to it.  In the area of this connection passage are some examples of the large tongs which were used on the cranes to pick up the blocks of stone.  After passing through the connection turn left to return back to the main route.

Cliftworks Passage goes for about another three hundred and fifty feet past the side passage, when you come to a 'Y' junction where, on the right, is an air shaft of approximately four feet in diameter.  Straight on, over a large roof fall, is the main passage.  To the left is a complicated series of passages forming an oxbow to the left of the main route, rejoining it at the far side of the roof fall.

Climbing over the roof fall, you will have a walk of about six hundred feet to where the passage takes a sharp left turn; here some tools can be seen placed on a block of stone on the right side of the passage, with a low roofed passage ascending behind. This is the exit of the second side passage, from near the doorway in Cliftworks Passage.  About one hundred feet past the first side passage is the entrance to the second side passage, also on the right.  Nearly two hundred feet on, on the right, is the connection with the first side passage described earlier.  Passing over the roof fall (in the Cliftworks Passable) you come to a "Y' junction, stood in the middle of which is a rail mounted, hand powered winch. To the right is a side passage along which can be seen tools; a saw sharpening bench - a very good example of a crane with chain and stone tongs in position; this is the crane which appears in the 'Mendip Underground' photograph.

Straight on from the junction is the main way on to rejoin Cliftworks Passage at the point where the tools are on the block of stone.  There ore several interesting passages off this route and at one point you can make an earlier connection with Cliftworks Passage, rejoining it near the large roof fall.

Standing near the tools in Cliftworks Passage, and looking forward, the end is three hundred feet further on where one can see the first signs of pneumatic drill working (these drills were known as 'windy drills' by the miners).  The main way on is to the left, soon reaching a three way junction. Taking the right hand passage, passing the remains of a hut on the left to reach the final working face after some five hundred feet.  At the face are more tools, springs and another crane.

Length of Cliftworks Passage from entrance on the A4 road = 2,500ft.

Length of second side passage (Original Cliftworks)                    =1,350ft.

Survey of the main passage by T. Meek, P. Marshall and A. Type (of the C.C.G.).  Other parts of the survey by P. Marshall, B & L. John, A. Tye and D. Marshall (of the C.C.G.). 

NOTE: Some parts of the roof are showing signs of age and should be passed with care.


(1) Mendip Underground by Irwin & Knibbs, Mendip Publishing, Wells, 1977 (Price £2.95).