Westwood Quarry, Wiltshire
Another early morning start, another trip to the exploring capital of the UK… Wiltshire! This time the target was Westwood Quarry. During the early part of the second world war, sections of Westwood were taken over in order to help with the war effort.
Royal Enfield used a large section of the mine to build motorcycles in the safety of the deep workings, and in the far end of the mine, following the blitz in London, priceless artefacts from all over the city were transferred to Westwood and securely stored behind two large safe doors. Sculptures, The Elgin Marbles, tapestries & carpets from the V&A, even the crown jewels were said to be stored there. The secure area was also one of the first places to have a ‘Radiovisor’ smoke detector. Nowadays, it’s still a secure storage area.
Entering Westwood, the mine is quite wet and rugged. The ceilings look immensely fragile, and in one section, thick chains wrap around the columns left behind from stone extraction so they don’t buckle under the weight above. But soon it becomes a lot drier & cleaner cut and evidence of the recent Hanson workings is scattered all around the central area. An office, complete with home comforts looks like it’s been ransacked. The usual working-mans topless girl calendars don the walls. The area outside the office still stinks of diesel where several oil drums lay strewn.
Walking further in to the mine you come across the Royal Enfield factory. Old worktops, machinery & paperwork. You really get a feel for the conditions of the workers down here. It’s a massive space. I’ve been here three times and still not managed to see all the of the workshop areas, you tend to find more on each visit, hidden away in the dark passages.