The Six Mile Mine
Despite it's name, the tunnel system did not extend for six miles, it went for more like half a mile (as shown in the plan) before being blocked by a heavy roof fall. The original system apparently did extend beyond this, for a total of about six miles, as far as Margate. (Could this be the same system referred to in the 'Frank Illingworth's Puzzle Tunnel' post?)
It's original purpose is unknown - was it an old chalk mine? A folly? Used for smuggling? It's a mystery. It was however used as a shelter during both world wars.
Exploring this tunnel system was fascinating. It was about 6ft high in most places, but dropping to a crawl in other parts. There were many side tunnels leading off in different directions. If you had discovered it for the first time, without knowing how far it went, it could be very daunting, and one could easily become lost!
Inside was cool and dark, with regularly spaced alcoves in the chalk walls to hold candles.
I have no idea how much of this system still remains intact - there has been a lot of development work in the wasteland behind the Honeysuckle pub recently, with the construction of a new doctors surgery and car park. It would be nice to think that some of this secret history still remains beneath it!
The tunnel entrance!
Inside the mine
Showing a typical cross-section. Note the rather ornate candle recess to the left
Low section of tunnel
One of the areas of the tunnel where we were reduced to a crawl!
A small roof fall
Which was possible to clamber over and continue on our journey!
Roof fall blockage!
Unfortunately a heavy roof fall blocked our way into the rest of the system (the remaining 5 1/2 miles!?)
An old map from the nineteenth century, showing the surrounding area and location of the six mile mine. There were numerous chalk pits and limekilns in the area at the time
Thanks to my esteemed tunnelling colleague Paul for the pictures!