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Finedon Iron Stone Mines

Clive Betts

It is a little known fact that beneath the green fields of this part of Northamptonshire are several extensive stone mines, which total several miles of passageway.  Alan Downton, Dave Bridges and myself finally found the exact location of one of the obscure entrances in the early part of 1992.

The information we had received regarding the site was that the mine was completely flooded and exploration would require diving equipment.  Our first visit therefore involved Dave and Clive supporting Alan on an initial dive to ascertain the exact nature of the site and also to see if there was any future here.

As Alan sorted his kit out at the roadside one of the locals could contain his curiosity no longer, which was understandable as it is not often you see someone put on a wet suit in the middle of a housing estate and then produce assorted diving kit from the boot of the car.

After the expected inquisitions from our woolly hatted acquaintance we got some interesting information about the area.

The mines themselves had closed at the end of the fifties and as far as our inquisitor knew, the only time anyone had been in was when two children had got themselves lost for a couple of days.  They were found when one of the old miners was called in to search for them as there was a danger of other "rescuers" needing to be rescued because of the complexity of the site.

When we eventually got to the entrance, Clive had a quick look inside while Alan kitted up, expecting to see flooded tunnels extending into the distance.

Alan was most disappointed when a voice drifting up from the depths of the earth told him that a pair of wellies would be more suitable than a wet suit.

What we actually had was a passageway approximately four metres wide and 2.5 metres high with about a foot to 18 inches of water in the bottom with some fairly horrendous looking timber supports.  Alan and Dave went for a paddle in water which was later described as "F ... ing freezing".

On their return after approximately 15 minutes their description of the length of passage explored was much the same as the entrance tunnel but the potential for further exploration was enormous.  As none of us had any sensible kit for exploring in the conditions (eg semi dry-suits get a bit warm without water) it was decided to return at a later date with some sensible kit.

When the later date came, we were extremely disappointed to discover that someone had decided to block all the entrances with a J.C.B ... or had they?  Another possible entrance was noted in the base of the cliff face and we intend to have a look at a later date but with a slightly lower profile next time to avoid undue attention which we guess was the probable reason for the J.C.B. activities.