Box Freestone Mine

posted in Photos

Box Freestone Mine

Box Freestone Mine, Wiltshire

Box Freestone Mine is one of those places that I’d wanted to visit for a long time before I got round to it. When I finally did I barely took a single photo, witnessing the place itself was a whole lot more awe inspiring than any photo could portray.

Cathedral

I was hooked. Another four visits took place over the following two years, during which I actually took more than three photos as I did on the first trip. The aptly named “Cathedral” chamber is pretty unique as far as underground spaces go. It kinda makes you feel like you just tumbled down the rabbit hole.

Cathedral Chamber , Box Freestone Mine

Aside from Cathedral, there are no other points where natural light penetrates into the mine. There are some 90km of pitch black tunnels.

Dark Underground Tunnel

Towards the east end of the workings are a series of brick monoliths and “robots” built over the years by visitors to the mine.

Brick Sculptures

Also to the east end of the workings, there are are two ventilation drifts that connect Box Mine to a series of MOD owned underground quarries.

Anti Personnel Wire

Barbed wire and large metal gratings once protected the drift shafts from intruders, though since the MOD’s declassification of the sites these have been neglected.

Brewer's Drift Grating

Heart Attack Alley

Brewer’s Drift, which provided ventilation for the MOD owned Tunnel Quarry, also goes by the name of “Heart Attack Alley.” At the far end of this drift lies a dead end with a single red blast door leading to the MOD owned area.

Door to Tunnel Quarry

Groundstone Quarry Junction

Heading back west brings you to Groundstone Quarry, which Brewer’s Drift cuts through. Following the south passage to the left in the above photo brings you to the other ventilation drift, which is called Wind Tunnel. This also contains a long breached anti-personnel grating.

Wind Tunnel grating

At the east end of Wind Tunnel lies another single red blast door. This leads to the MOD owned Spring Quarry, although has long been sealed shut.

Red Steel Door

After many tiring hours underground, we made our way out to make camp for the night.

Wild Camping

The first light of morning penetrates the Cathedral chamber, highlighting a cloud that has formed as moisture begins to evaporate in the chamber.

Cathedral Chamber in Box Freestone Mine

This time we head north from the chamber, where the passages quickly narrow back down again.

Box Freestone Mine

When the workings closed for the last time in 1968, workers left many tools, drink cans and bottles. Even a few pairs of their work boots remain.

Miner's Workbench

A winch truck remains on the rails within the Northern region of the workings.

Miner's Winch Truck

Small piles of “deads” adorn a lot of the mine’s 90km of passageways. These are fragments of material that were unsuitable for quarrying, so were simply left in the passages.

Mine Explorer

I’ve still got a lot more to see…

In the mean time, if you like this then you’ll love my adventurers and sense of place portfolios.

Mike

7 comments

  1. Hi Mike,

    I’ve been searching for weeks to find an entrance to this place! My girlfriend is visiting me this weekend and i really want to go and explore. Can you please PM me and let me know where i need to go? Where did you set up camp?!

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide,

    Lewis

    • Hi Lewis, if you head to The Quarryman’s Arms they have all you need to know. You can buy laminated maps of the mine and ‘rent’ the key to the mine. I’d highly recommend taking several backup lights and batteries, wearing good strong waterproof boots with ankle support, and letting someone know when you go down and what time you expect to be out. Also take a compass to accompany the map. Mike

  2. hi

    I absolutely love the photography i went down about 4 weeks ago and am going back down next week but am in need on some advice for lighting i took many pictures but they are not very good, what lighting do you use so i can prepare better for next week any advice or recommendations would be appreciated.

    Thanks
    Dion

    • Hi Dion,

      I use a variety of powerful LED torches, including a few from LED Lenser and a few cheap Chinese CREE models from ebay. The LED Lenser lights create a very smooth and controllable light which is great for light painting, although they can sometimes not be powerful enough. This is where the CREE models come in, they produce a much more powerful light although the beam pattern that they produce is quite uneven… You have to be very careful with the way you use them in photography. Saying that, they are excellent for back-lighting tunnels as they produce both a wide spread of light whilst having a more focussed beam too, which counteracts the effects of light falloff in tunnels.

      Aside from that, experimenting with different techniques and then practising them is a huge part of it. But that’s also the more rewarding part of it!

      Hope that helps,

      Mike

  3. Hi Mike,
    Have been down several times now through the back door entrance to the cathedrall , but today we explored the north section by climbing up the dirt mound in the cathedrall and dropping down the other side.
    We saw the cranes and tools and made it to the north entrance and to the plaque but can not seem to find “the red door” any advice on how to find it ?
    Cheers , Mark

  4. Hi Mike ,
    Re-visited the mine today and finally found “the red door” altho decomisioned years ago you can still hear the generators running and a new motion sensor alarm on the wall? Did you come across this or is there something else going on i wonder ?
    Also just a heads up for anyone thinking of visiting there has been a lot of cave ins which are new since our last visit 2 months ago between the back door and the cathedral
    Cheers Mark

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