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Wigmore Swallet

Continuing the saga of Wigmore Swallet

Stu Lindsey gives us the up to date picture…..

End of Part One…

The first half of '78 has seen Tony Jarrett and Stu Lindsey busily ginging up the ‘open’ ends of the Winding Shaft.  This was achieved with notable assistance from Chris Batstone, Trev Hughes, Graham W-J, Ross White and Miss Jane Kirby, when they were available.  The task involved mixing by hand, the equivalent, of the ingredients that went into the 'cap', about 2t tons of concrete!

Unfortunately, the need for the ginging….over 50ft of it……meant demolishing the dry walled spoil heaps and the almost complete denuding of Hesitation Chamber.  This latter exercise completely robbing the chamber of its 'loose' character.  However the task did provide a few hairy moments, especially when perched 30ft up the shaft on virtually non-existent ledges, invariably wet and muddy, and handling large boulders and buckets of 'goo'… it was on reflection, quite fun!

In May, with the completion of the most necessary ginging imminent, Stu. L. began the task of constructing the framework to receive the 'cap', areas of obvious instability being grouted in where practical.  The main shuttering (¼"ply) was laid down on five cross members of 2" x 2", each member having 'two legs', this raised them the necessary 3ft up from the only two ledges available on each side of the shaft, stream side and farm side.  (At the present time mid. September, Ed., - this means the cap is mainly supported by the ginging at each end!)  The positioning of the formwork means that the concrete lid is at the same depth as the soil when we started digging.  As a safety measure, and because of the flimsy nature of the base, three large log were dangled under the formwork and suspended by ropes to acrow jacks wedged across the upper part of the shaft.  As things turned out 'the tension on the ropes remained slack throughout the capping ceremony…….!

So, to the big day, the 16th September 1978.  The capping of the Winding Shaft with nearly three tons of concrete.  An operation that made certain doubting Thomas! (no, not Alan Thomas) squib with anticipated delight at the thought of a certain Wigmore Collapse…..sorry to have disappointed you folks!......phew.  The much was mixed in a rather temperamental mixer and pushed 60 yards to the delivery chute where two sweaty figures sculpted it around two yawning orifices.  One, with scaffold pipes across acting as a flood valve!  The entrance hole, 6ft x 4ft. approx. will be covered by the 'wee top frae Ross-shire', this has been delivered from the Bonnie Highlands by various modes of transport.  Whilst no intention of ‘padlocking’ is envisaged the landowner wants it secured - so, the lid will be bolted when the lips of the hole are lined.

Many thanks to ‘Mistair Crestani’ for on-site materials and loan of the mixer and, to all who turned up on the day and assisted with the various operations.  The area around the hole has now been handed back to nature except for the remnants of the big spoil heap which in time will form a dry wall around the ‘cap’.

At present access is still confined to diggers, so anyone wishing to assist please see Stu Lindsey or Tony Jarrett.

It is my intention to display a pictorial history of the dig in the Belfry and also put together 'collections of prints' for various persons.  To this end I would be grateful to hear from anyone who has 'pics' to do with Wigmore, especially subterranean ones, as my camera went wrong during Dec-Jan in the break in period.  My address is 5 Laburnum Wlk, Keynsham, Avon (S.A.E.) or to me at the Belfry.