Industrial Archaeology Recordings

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Wren's Nest East

Inland waterways and Mining History, Compilation No.37

A branch canal tunnelBackground

In the early years of the Nineteenth century, the limestone mines of Castle Hill, Dudley were becoming worked out, so attention turned to the nearby Wren's Nest Hill. Many of the mines were served by branches of the Dudley canal tunnel system.

About 1805 a new tunnel was driven from Castle Mill basin 718m West to a large underground canal basin, which gave access to the thick and thin limestone beds. Access to the surface 48m above was by a 240-step cast iron spiral staircase in the famous "Step Pit".

Looking into the entrance to the branch canal (above)In 1998, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council sank a new shaft on the site of Step Pit to gain access to the workings.

This compilation shows the new shaft, the 67m long brick-lined canal basin and the cavernous stopes on the thick and thin limestone beds. The basin has iron brackets for towpath planks on both sides and iron rings in the walls for handlines. A brick-lined tunnel heads towards Castle Mill basin and an unlined tunnel leads to the West mine.

A plateway wheel and railOther sights include a plateway wheel and plate rails and edge rails found in the workings; a brick-lined tunnel heading south, clay partings in the roof secured with wooden wedges, calcite and ochre formations, the remains of a cavern and shaft filled with brick rubble in 1962 and the lining of a borehole drilled from the surface.

Lowering the 'crew' down Step ShaftThe near-vertical hanging walls show the underside of the pavement-like beds of Wenlock limestone as they were laid-down 400 million years ago.

A large limestone stope


  • This compilation has no commentary.
  • NGR: SO 938 917
  • £ 10.00 - DVD
  • Running Time: 17 mins.
  • Recorded 1998
  • Price includes worldwide delivery.
  • 'PAL' and 'NTSC' versions available.


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