Star Shaft Mine Capping

Capping Day! Friday 4th August 2006

The hauliers delivered the goods on time at the arranged layby which was just big enough to accept the load. A massive crane was used to load the “they look rather large to me, are you sure they'll fit?” sections onto a 10 tonne capacity trailer which just about managed to groan under their weight. The panels were suspiciously larger than the 2tons each they were “supposed” to be…. (but at least they were over-engineered!) - so much so that it looked pretty dubious whether or not we'd ever be able to move them.

F*!K ME! IT'S HUGE!… AND THERE'S ANOTHER ONE YET TO BE LOADED!!!!

Cap'n'Chris, Axbridgecaver and Whitelackington cleared the site in preparation for the arrival of the sections by removing the fencing and clearing away the panels previously covering the mine shaft. This meant that we had reached a point of no return since if we were unable to cap the shaft then there would be a bit of a problem since the hazardous hole would no longer be fenced off for safety; so the pressure was now on…

A rather nice toy…

The trailer carrying both the pre-stressed reinforced concrete panels arrived after having had quite a job on its hands to get across the rough terrain.

Whitelackington and Axbridgecaver were immensely helpful assisting clearing the fencing and barbed wire and moving the temporary (blue) panels away from the shaft. We had a fair amount of kit on site with two unimog-type-thingies and a trailer and a crane-thingy (hiab?).

The first huge panel weighing 2000gazillion tonnes is gingerly eased into position…. all the while I was expecting the whole lot to tip over and fall down the gaping hole…. fingers crossed that wasn't going to happen*!….

(*Scary/interesting/“f*!k me!” incident removed).

Eventually the second panel is positioned into place and then a bit of faffing occurred while attempts were made to eventually successfully align both panels so that the central entrance hole was ready to take the specially manufactured entrance which will be fitted soon (an even bigger “THANK YOU, YOU HERO!” goes to Paul Wakeling from Wessex CC for doing a superb job of fabricating the entrance, volunteering the effort out of the goodness of his ever-so-warm-and-fluffy heart).

So, the next time you hear someone saying “What do regional caving councils (i.e. CSCC) do for cavers?…” you'll know how to respond. Once things are finished trips should be possible for those with the requisite technical skills to enter/exit safely, enjoying a nice new free-hanging abseil of about 90' and the other stuff down there…

Thanks to AONB Hills Warden for additional funding towards this project. A big “Thank You” again to Axbridgecaver and Whitelackington for their most welcome help. Also a big thank you to Justin, Tommo and John for putting in a lot more effort than I think everyone had expected it was going to take. To everyone else who wished to be on site but was unable to make it due to other commitments

…. you really don't know what you missed! (shtuum, Al & W,…. don't say anything!)

Chris Binding. CSCC C&A Officer.


Installing the Gate Sunday 13th August

Some photos of Paul, Chris and Mak (photographer) placing the gate into the hole, so shaft is now secured.


Bolting Tuesday 14th October

Hmmm. The cows like to stand on and nearby the new capping so the grass isn't quite as green as I thought!

That said, good work was done today by CSCC bolting officer plus his assistant (yours truly); bolts were placed at the head of the second pitch on the right hand side; compromised somewhat by the dolomitic conglomerate as to where anchors could be sited, three bolts were placed on the right hand wall approaching the pitch allowing a (slightly low) ladder/line/SRT rig to be put in.

On returning up the main pitch a single anchor rebelay adjacent to a useful ledge at a horizon of about +50ft (17m'ish) was placed; again this was compromised by the suitability of the rock and so a deviation was placed (look out for the cord in situ) solving a bit of a potential rub point below.

So, to summarise:

Star Shaft is now bolted for SRT.

The main pitch can be done either as a single free hang of around 25m or: A double pitch of about 8m to rebelay then 17m with deviation to bottom

Followed by second pitch which can be rigged as you choose from the bolts on the right hand wall. Using a short sling or double krab will avoid another minor rub just below the furthest anchor.

Chris placing the anchors. Pic: Andrew Atkinson

Rigging Topos


This project was funded by the BCA (£1595) and the Mendip AONB (£470).

Last modified: 27 Dec 2008 02:13