Ridge Quarry (Central Ammunitions Depot), Wiltshire

Ridge quarry was my first real underground experience as an “urban explorer”. Growing up on Portland in Dorset I wasn’t a stranger to underground spaces and cave networks, but nothing quite prepares you for the sheer scale of the Wiltshire mines.

Ridge Quarry - Slope Shaft No.2
The bottom of Slope Shaft No.2 with the few remaining steel arch supports, most of which were scrapped when the quarry was put in to private hands.

Being one of the smaller mines earmarked for the Central Ammunition Depots (CAD) in the area of Corsham, I remember exploring Ridge on a sunny Sunday afternoon and climbing down inside the slope shaft obliviously under-prepared and under-equipped.

We had one torch between us, no maps, no safety helmets, completely under-dressed & perhaps most shockingly, told no one where we were going. All these oversights quickly came to the fore when for about 30 minutes we were going round in circles searching for the exit, getting more & more irate with each other, both of us arguing that we knew the way out, eventually happening on it by complete luck. Never again would I go underground so badly equipped.

Access to Ridge quarry over the years after our first visit changed a lot and for a long time it was either completely inaccessible, or open for very short periods of time, and as far as I know, Ridge is now in the hands of a local stone company, Ham & Doulting, and completely locked down. Periodically we managed to get a few visits in and see more of the mine each time. Even though Ridge is one of the smallest mines in the area, I thought it was one of the most difficult to navigate as everything looks so similar.

The history of Ridge

Taken over by the war office in 1915 and used for TNT storage during The Great War, Ridge was vacated by the Ministry of Munitions in 1922.

Ridge quarry is on two levels, accessed via two inclines and after Ridge was requisitioned in 1934, concrete works began in 1938 on the lower level but were soon abandoned due to the costs out-weighing the benefits. Even if it did look spectacular!

Early in 1944, bomb storage peaked at 31,563 tons as the invasion of Europe was being prepared and in April & May of that year the RAF dropped 200,000 tons in operation Overlord with Ridge’s contribution to the campaign an impressive 21,000 tons.

It’s genuinely sad seeing the mines around Corsham slowly but surely being locked away from sight and only being accessed by a privileged few. Uncertainty surrounds what Ham & Doulting Stone have planned for Ridge and why they’ve decided to secure it so tightly. I can’t see it being re-opened for mining, but I’d be the first to admit I’m no expert and time will ultimately tell.

If you’d like to learn more about Ridge and the Corsham mines, I’d highly recommend Nick McCamley’s book, Secret Underground Cities.

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Comments

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  1. Andy Stone says:

    Hi.

    Recently, my wife and I went and explored the Farleigh Down Tunnels, and were not disappointed! This has inspired us to visit more of the underground spaces around Wiltshire, but we’re struggling to find any others that have easy access for two ageing explorers!

    I know this is cheeky, but do you know of any others that might be suitable?

    Thanks in advance, Andy

    1. Rich says:

      Most, if not all of them around the Corsham/Box area have been shut and sealed due to either vandals or people getting lost and needing to be rescued.

  2. Milks says:

    It’s such a shame about Ridge Quarry.

    It’s all because the people who rent the land above the complex were getting their tyres slashed and vehicles graffitied. I went over there today and the whole of the street “The Ridge” is CCTV’ed with movement alarms. Anyone drives down or walks down, they will know about it.

    I was speaking with one of the residents (lovely chap, had a good chat with him about Ridge!). He explained they had to bring a massive machine in to carry the block of stone sat on top of the entrance to Slope Shaft 2. He also said that… and I quote “If the vandalism to our (the residents) property did not happen and people weren’t trashing the mine, they would not have a problem and the place would still be open.”

    So, if anyone reading this is looking for a place to go and trash, all of the genuine explorers who want to go and see these places for the history and preserved nature (highly rare.. read back two lines) of these places, it ruins it for everyone when they get sealed. People don’t need to do much thinking to work that one out.

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      Yep, it’s a real shame. I really like Ridge it’s one of my favourite underground spaces in the Corsham area.

      1. Olivia says:

        Hello, I am a young explorer looking for abandoned places within Hampshire, I have explored many abandoned buildings but would like to go somewhere that is untouched by youths if anyone has anywhere they would be willing to share please get in contact, many thanks

  3. Dan says:

    Any idea if it is open again? Me and some others would like to go have a look around.

    1. Chris says:

      Still shut, getting in through Monks would be the best bet, although that’s sealed as well!

      1. The Urban Explorer says:

        Interesting. Have they stopped mining again at Monks now? I know they reopened a couple of years ago.

        1. Chris says:

          Yep, Hanson made cutbacks and left again, site is locked up but can get in easily, slope shaft door sealed though
          Abseiling down the air shafts ok though 😆

          1. The Urban Explorer says:

            Abseiling is definitely one way for genuine explorers to see this place, and keeps out the riff-raff! Ha!

  4. Joel says:

    Does anyone know if there is still access to this place. If so where are the entrances?

    1. Mikey says:

      No mate.. will be blocked for a long time… huge stones in front of grill.

  5. eli says:

    Whats the status on Ridge? Getting conflicting reports and planning to do a few in the area this weekend! email lyonjj02@gmail.com

    1. Mikey says:

      Just been all in that area. It’s closed off mate

  6. Mark says:

    Hey guys, there has been a lot of changes to the mines and Corsham area recently, I have explored Bath freestone many times, Browns Folly, Swan mine and Farleigh down tunnel but have not explored Ridge quarry. Where can I find the entrance to Ridge quarry? Any recommendations for other explorations? Look forward to your reply cheers.

    1. Jordan says:

      Hi I was wondering if anyone knew how to get into Folly Browns Mine and also is Monkton Farleigh mine still open? or a way of getting in thanks :)

      1. Mark says:

        Monkton Farleigh is completely sealed off as it is now owned by a company called Restore as a secret storage facility, Browns Folly mine is still accessible but it is hard to describe where the entrance is and would be easier to show you ??

        1. Edd says:

          Was down there yesterday, very accessible.

          1. The Urban Explorer says:

            Interesting, Edd. Could you send an e-mail over with some details on this? Has the stone firm given up on securing it or is it a temporary thing you think?

            1. Mikey says:

              Muddle hole aka Browns Folly backdoor is still open and great to go down. Just don’t ruin it people! Went down 2 days ago and did Box and Swan too.

              1. Lee Wilkins says:

                Hello buddy could you give me the location to the back door really want to explore the place many thanks Lee Wilkins

              2. Luke Griggs says:

                Hi,

                Would you be able to send me a screenshot of Google Maps with a star or something indicating where muddy hole is at Brown’s please? I went there a few weeks ago, searched for ages, only found an entrance where the grate had been forced off. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

                Thanks!

          2. Fish says:

            I live locally and would be keen to have a look can you help please?

            Many thanks,
            Phill

          3. Liam Mathew McCarthy says:

            Hi there is this accessible if so can u email me at liam.m.mccarthy2017@gmail.com I take a small group exploring new places cave mines etc. this sounds interesting.

            Thanks Liam

          4. Tammy says:

            Hi Edd any chance you could email me some details on where about the entrance is and if it is still accessible my email is hottj01@hotmail.com

      2. Luke says:

        Hi Jordan,

        Email me!

        luke@euphoricutopia.live

        I know Browns well.

        All the best.

    2. Victoria smith says:

      Did you find the entrance to Ridge quarry?

  7. Leonard clark says:

    We lived on Portland for twenty years and never knew any thing about these tunnels.

    You wonder what else there is very interesting

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      Assume you meant to post this on one of my Portland reports? I can move it to the intended page if you let me know which.

  8. trace skelton says:

    Would love to go there but don’t want wasted trip does anyone know of its sealed up or not

    Many thanks

    1. Tom says:

      Did you ever find out if it was sealed up or not?

  9. Vince says:

    Looking at the pictures the site seems awesome. However there seems to be a lot of blocked entrances and wondered if it still was possible to get in? Being fairly far way, I don’t want to get all the way there, just to find all the entrances to be sealed. Cheers!

  10. Jeran says:

    I can’t quite work out from the article, was this a recent visit or was this a while ago as I can’t quite work it out and I’d quite like to pay a visit?

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      It’s the result of several visits over about 6-7 years. As far as I’m aware Ridge Quarry is now inaccessible and has been for about a year. But as always with these things, it’s best to find out for yourself!

      1. Jeran says:

        Hello again, I went there today and found that the slope two entrance is still blocked with tonnes of blocks and now has a trailer over it too! We tried a few pin points we found on an OS map one was just a shaft that had a metal grill over and about a 20m drop and the other has since over grown and covered up which is now inaccessible. Slope one is next to some houses and has apparently been covered over and destroyed when the buildings were flattened. So unfortunately access is unavailable to this mine.

      2. Tom says:

        Any idea if this is still around?

  11. alan says:

    Always pleasure reading your reports. Well done, thank you.

  12. Rich says:

    Great shots again. Live so locally to all of these yet still never visited. You’ve just peaked my interest again. Will renew my efforts. Great work again

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      Get on it mate! If I lived close I’d have turned in to a mole by now! Or be rotting in some MOD police cell somewhere! Haha!

  13. Sara Harpley says:

    As usual Adam, quality photographs and a very interesting report. Thank you!

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      Thanks Sara, I appreciate that. Flattery gets you everywhere! Haha!

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