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Monday, 16 February 2015


Volunteer archaeology monitors do not only inspect and report on the condition of the many recorded archaeological sites on the Eastern Moors, but also attempt to carry out some research to increase our knowledge and to correct any errors which have been made when recording features.

A case in point is the dilapidated brick structure (SK 2791 7950), which lies approximately 200 metres to the North East of the prominent Totley Tunnel Ventilation Shaft (SK 2773 7940).  The structure had been described in the ArcHeritage database as the remains of a tunnel surveyor’s observatory but, as it does not lie directly above the line of the tunnel, this was clearly incorrect. What could it have been used for?
Examination of the remaining intact brickwork suggested that the original building consisted of an entrance porch and a storage area with an arched roof.  This layout, along with its location at a safe distance from the tunnel ventilation shaft, is good evidence that the structure was an explosives store.  When the air shaft was being sunk in the 1890s gelignite would have been stored in such a building, which was designed so that the blast from any accidental explosion would have been mainly directed upwards through the roof, rather than horizontally.

That the structure was an explosives store is our best explanation at the present time, but if anyone has further information it would be most welcome.
The good news is that work is in hand to stabilise the remaining brickwork to halt any further deterioration, so this small piece of railway history will be conserved.

Stuart Nunn

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