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Water Level and Surveying, Brewery Shaft (08 - 09/11/08).

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Around a couple of months ago Lyndon from WMRG had given me a ring to let me know of the up coming Brewery Shaft winch trip - date penciled in. We arrived at the shaft hut just a little before 11.00 in the morning ready to go. Chit chatting away Eddy mentioned the water level half way down and asked whether we would be willing to have a look. Do one legged ducks swim in circles? Strangely I been thinking about the same thing over the last few weeks. After a brief delay of going to get our full SRT gear, we came back and everyone descended down. Sally, on her way down gave the position of the level so it could be marked on the winch cable.

I climbed into the winch seat and descended down. Excellent winch operation by Eddy brought me to a gentle stop right by the level, which was located behind two of the larger pipes. A request (relayed by Anne) for a bit of a lowering, allowed me to pendule towards the pipes, climb inbetween them and into the level. Once out of the seat, Pete came down to join me. The entrance of the level was stone arched for 2m, then there was a little chamber strewn with debris, sheet metal, ladders, and pieces of wood. To the right the passage headed towards the top of the water wheel. To the left Pete noticed an area which looked like it had fallen in, a little bit of digging allowed him to pop in a little way and see what looked to be a chamber, but it did not go anywhere from the looks of things.

Heading right we made our way along the water level (as we called it), just round the corner from the arching we saw a fully intact pick and various bits of metal. A few metres past this there was a ventilation door. The level here was in shaley rock and further along we came to a few metres of arching, which then opened out into a chamber where the shaft going down to the water wheel could be seen. Before the shaft, there was a short section of leat and what looked to be a heavily calcified hopper. Above the hopper we could see water pouring out of the roof. Above the arching there was anchamber, but this did not go anywhere. Returning back to the original chamber, Pete carried out some water management to clear the water level and I started taking photographs.

Once this had been done, we rigged a rope up and Pete belayed me so that I could have a look at the shaft top. Not knowing its state I was not taking any chances. It turned out to be fine (at least it held my weight long enough to have a look), and I could see that on the far side there was a manway with a section of ladder visible, going down to a platform. On the near side was the 'water way'. We returned to the level entrance by the Brewery Shaft and then used the grappling hook Eddy had thoughtfully given us to retrieve the waiting seat to continue our journey down.

Arriving at the shaft bottom we where told that Pete's water management had given people at the water wheel a bit of a wake up call when the water had come pouring down! We proceeded to have a look around, viewing the compressor room, the generator area and of course the water wheel. Having spent a while in the water level, this had left us little time and soon we had to return back to the surface.

We had planned to do something else the next day, but ended up going down the Brewery Shaft again to survey the distance to the fall along the Rampgill Deep Level. We were the first ones down so we could get going and also to make sure we got the good air! From the ventilation door we started the survey and over an hour later we had reached the fall. Along the way not too far off from the end we heard someone coming up behind us and they helped in the surveying for the last part, thanks (sorry, I can't remember your name and you said that you would contact me). The air at the fall this time was completely different to my last trip in 2005, my lighter worked and it smelled 'fresh'. Turning back we returned to the compressor room and had lunch, then made a speedy exit. Having the use of a winch is a very nice thing.

The results of the survey were interesting, the fall is about 650m from the ventilation door. However, when I superimposed and scaled it onto Peter Wilkinson's plan of the area from his Nent Force Level & Brewery Shaft book I found it to be out by a significant amount. The survey route showed all the correct turns and headings in the level, but it was just out in distance. Even though our surveying was just a basic run down the middle of the level, the method has proven to be accurate from other areas we have surveyed. I would love to see a copy of the original plan of the Rampgill Deep Level to see where the error has come from. I suppose when you start trying to fit things onto a plan from a book that was redrawn and then scaled to fit in the book, errors are going to be introduced. A copy of the survey is shown on the last thumbnail.