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North Featherstone and the tunnel to Pontefract castle

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Author Topic: North Featherstone and the tunnel to Pontefract castle  (Read 5345 times)
yetion1
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« on: April 15, 2008, 08:32:27 pm »

Itís just been one of those days for history information. I am no expert so please fill in the gaps. My day started with the story of the north Featherstone traffic lights being built. It is said that whilst the new road was being dug into the limestone that the contractors found a hole. The hole was opened and found to be a tunnel. The tunnel was the one from All Saints church to Pontefract castle. The tunnel was stone lined and did contain methane. The side walls of the road as you see them now cover the entrance on either side. The road has now blocked the link from Featherstone to Pontefract.
It is said that from the church the tunnel ran to Pontefract. What is not known is where else it goes. It was suggested that the tunnel could go to the monastery at Nostel. It was also said that the tunnel had an entrance via a grave in the church yard.
At the side of the sun in it is said that there is a bell pit that is capped. This would appear to be in the location of the pub car park. This bell pit is said to also be connected to the tunnel.
In 1 day my interest has been gained. Can anyone add to the myth of the tunnel?
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yetion1
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2008, 07:25:41 pm »

Another great find today was from a local resident. Somewhere in Featherstone ground works have been made that have discovered an entrance to the tunnel and a well. I have asked for any pictures and history we can all share that will arrive shortly I hope.
From what I have been told the tunnel is stone lined and well built. It has a particular shape to its top. The floor has water running in it but has walking stones to step onto. I Cannot wait to see the pictures for a first view.
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yetion1
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2008, 08:50:54 pm »

i was not sure where to place this next item so my thoughts have gone towards buildings along the tunnel site. this has been produced from a local historian researching the area. i have not met nor talked to her yet but hope she joins us soon.







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yetion1
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« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2008, 02:45:38 pm »

the smaller picture is taken behind the church. you may recognise the wall. the larger picture shows a large house that has gone. the stone posts are still there. you will see them over the road from the Bradly arms.

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yetion1
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« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2008, 02:46:52 pm »

a couple of views looking up from the cross roads.

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Forkhandles
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« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2008, 05:30:12 pm »

the smaller picture is taken behind the church. you may recognise the wall. the larger picture shows a large house that has gone. the stone posts are still there. you will see them over the road from the Bradly arms.



The bigger picture looks remarkably like purston lodge.
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yetion1
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« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2008, 08:29:25 pm »

well that caused a lot of chat. i was wrong and the larger picture is the house at the bottom of the high school drive before its extention. i stand corrected. Grin
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yetion1
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« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2008, 08:40:41 pm »

ive been waiting for this day for years, ever since i first learnt about the storys of the tunnels. what you see below is the first ever pictures of one of these tunnels. no one has been down there in over 400 years. the tunnel varies in hieght and pans out about 3 ft. it is carved out of the rock and you can see the chisel marks and a ledge carved on the right side. i think i was about 10ft down. the tunnel comes to an end. by the look at the chisel marks i bet it goes down but is full off dirt.

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banter
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2008, 05:01:46 pm »

Hi Yetion,
             Being an ex minor I am intrigued to find out about these tunnels. I know that digging such a tunnel would have had many problems at the time of construction.
For example, when a modern mine is constructed for the mining of coal, we come across alsorts of problems such as gas, geological obstructions, pumping breathable air into the tunnel and extracting bad air, water and so forth. My questions would be as follows....
1. What was the purpose of the tunnel i.e coal, connection from one mine to another etc?
2. Who provided the money to dig from North Featherstone to the Castle and where was the spoil heap located? A tunnel of such proportion would have produced a considerable amount of spoil like a stack.
3. How was air pumped into the tunnel to secure a breathable environment and how was bad air removed such as gas.
4. The route of the tunnel from North Featherstone to Pontefract Castle comes across many geological problems like peaks and troughs as they are known. In order to avoid all the hills across parkside the minors who constructed the tunnel would have had to go down maybe 100 feet to burrow under the troughs. In modern mining, the engineering of such a tunnel would cost millions and take a considerable amount of time. The geological pattern of this region is Magnesium limestone and sandstone with a high a water table. Surely without modern equipment the tunnel would fill up with water in a matter of minutes?
5. What was the value of having such a tunnel, especially with the expence and time required, when you can walk to the same place on foot on the surface?
I hear about these tunnels from time to time but have always wondered what they are designed for.
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Forkhandles
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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2008, 05:19:36 pm »

I've always had my doubts whether they realy go to pont castle, as you say banter, it would have been a monumental task in those days, and what was the purpose of it, and where do they come out at pont castle,  i think they had some other purpose, maybe as a hiding place for monks during the disolution? underground storage? Huh
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yetion1
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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2008, 06:28:39 pm »

Heyup Banter,
Itís great to hear a good opinion. I am a total virgin to all this. My interest is pure intrigue to the many stories heard. From what you have said who knows, we might answer some questions?
Going through your points I agree to dig a long tunnel would have caused many problems.
Your first point I believe is the key. To know what they were for would answer many questions. To dig a tunnel and not a bell pit for coal seems daft unless we donít know something they did. The tunnel does have small seams of coal but not what I would bother to dig for. Is it just a long fridge? The tunnels steam in winter so I assume they have the under ground water heating effect. To be a tunnel from one pit to another is a lot of effort.
To dig a tunnel would, I agree cost much and make lots of spoil. A few ideas would be monks who are free, a rich man such as Cromwell, Cromwells men for something to do or keep the armies supplies, free labour to pay for staying in the 3 times sieged castle. As for the spoil, the tunnel I have seen so far is at most 4.5ft sq. this would cut down spoil. Are some of the spoil heaps around the area just that and not from bell pits? Did they fill in bell pits along the route?
The air supply is a good one. I donít know what I am talking about I admit. I can say I could hear outside noise and that roots are coming out of the roof and sides. Would that be enough to suggest air flow via cracks?
Your 4th point is the most damming to the ledged of a fully connecting tunnel. What I saw at the end of the tunnel was a dead end in the rock not a block. The chisel marks on the wall are the same but to me at the end change in direction. Again no expert but a got the feeling the tunnel was going down. It would take some clearing to prove this right as that was where there was most debris. An attempt to find the other severed half of the tunnel has been made by digger. After 15ft down of soil they hit the same rock the tunnel is carved from. The lay of the land is on the brow of the hill. Could this make it above the water table? The tunnel I saw was dry but damp.
The value of this tunnel is again a big question. I just donít know. Its value to us is intrigue of our ancestors.
One other item I have found is that at the back of the church is a large grave/ vault. Many years ago the flag stones above gave way. Upon inspection there was a very deep crypt with 9 coffins stacked towards the church. The room was tinder dry. On the wall was an arch that had been bricked up. It is believed this is an entrance to the tunnel.
Thanks for the interest.
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banter
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« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2008, 07:36:45 pm »

'Is it just a long fridge?'

Yes, they were known as cold stores and retriets. There are several of them at the castle, they are extremely cool even in the height of summer, an ideal place to store meat and vedge. During Celtic times there were thousands of them but over time they have fallen into ruin. Some are still around today and more have been made in the 2000 years since the time of the Celts. They rarely extend longer than about 10 metres.
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yetion1
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« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2008, 09:03:56 pm »

glad you mentioned the orb. i was hoping someone else doesnt think im mad. the tunnel pictures i have are full of them. one picture i have has illuminous green to the edge of a corner. no green in the wall when i looked.

as for the fridge theory i can only agree for now. it facts out at the most reasonable answer. who knows in another 20 years i might get another clue.
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yetion1
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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2008, 10:01:42 pm »

another part of the tunnel. i have been thinking about the "fridge" theory. it just to me is a walk/ crawl through tunnel?

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Bob
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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2008, 10:08:59 pm »

in the last picture, how deep is the water if only ankle deep look at the profile ofthe tunnel at leg hight it is only wide enough for one person at a time to walk along it so why should it be widened at hip to shoulder highth
it sugests maybe people were carrying things through the tunnel.
B
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yetion1
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« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2008, 10:19:54 pm »

apart from the entrance the tunnel is damp but dry. it doesnt look to me like it gets flooded. your comment on its shape are correct. why make a shape when it is easyier not to. the 1st picture shows a hexigon shape as if a template was used. the carving looks sharp as if a shape had to pass through.
great comments. makes you wonder if there was a commonly used shape of box at some time, possibly on a trolly? the trolly theory is my own. if the floor were cleaned out i bet there would be a wheel vally. does that make any sence?
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Bob
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« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2008, 11:31:44 pm »

another though about cold stores were are there niches or nicks in the walls for some sort of shelving or storage to keep rats away from the food
and if the water was ever deep enough what about a sort of barge I have seen similar features in canal tunnels.
B
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yetion1
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« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2008, 10:24:29 pm »

another theory came in today. about 1930 someone was prosicuted for mining for coal under the road near the cross roads. they had dug under the road and had put in props. i have been told of someone who may know more and will ask him.
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Popeye
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« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2008, 09:51:31 pm »

Near the crossroads, is that why the hole keeps appearing every couple of weeks. Its been on the Jim el Fix it list for over 6 months now but the highways are waiting for a key worker to return off sick leave. Bet the sod's working down at the new bit towards Cutsyke. Cool Cool
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heather
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« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2008, 01:34:42 pm »

These small tunnels were called fogou's. There are several hundred of them recorded in the UK. If the fogou dates back early enough, there is a possibility there may be a iron age settelement within a few yards of it. It would need a archeologist to examine it to determine it's age and purpose.
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