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New Providence Mine

Nick Richards and Nick Harding

Iron Plantation, Long Ashton NGR 53707070

L 25M VR 4.5 M

There are a number of ancient caves in Iron Plantation, which provided the loci for an intense mineralization by iron oxides, both in the form of metallic heamatite and the earthy variety- red ochre. These minerals were removed by mining in the second half of the 19C. The enormous main rift NGR 53507093 bears testament to this industry.


Plan of New Providence Mine

In late 2004 we discovered a small hole in a pit located in an area of depressions behind the houses on Providence Lane. It was not until Jan 2006 that we decided to explore it.

A rather tight entrance leads to a descending gallery with ‘deads’ stacked on the right hand side. To the left is a small blind passage to a choke at the base of a shaft to surface. The main passage bends to the right where an old pit prop can be seen. Here, the cave has a heavy drip and a fine slope of micro-gours extends downslope for over 2m. In some of the small pools are cave pearls and, more unusually, large amounts of calcited twigs-looking very much like broken straws. A few small ribbon formations can be seen in the roof. These formations bear an attractive red colouration due to iron oxides.

A careful stoop over the gours leads to a squeeze into the 8m long and 4.5m high ‘red rift’, on the right at shoulder level is a small bedding chamber. This whole area is, as the name suggests, strongly red coloured. A small clear pool adds interest.

New Providence mine is a natural karstic cavity, which had become filled with red ochre. This was removed by miners about 1860-1880 as part of the Providence mine sett. There is no record of this cave in any literature and we assume that, due to its obscure location, has been completely missed by later explorers.

Iron Plantation Hole NGR 5353 7087

L 3M VR 1M

During our exploration of the above, a reconnaissance around the areas of mining in the plantation revealed a recent collapse on the mountain biking track. Removal of a few large boulders gave access to a blind 3m passage just under the surface. There is no sign of any iron ore. Bats reside at the end.