2 0 0 8     S U M M A R Y

July to August ... an emotional roller-coaster. Tony Jarratt's [JRat] cancer diagnosis ... long discussions sitting round the shove ha'penny table in Hunters' with Tony, Dave Morrison and others ... the decision to have a go at Wigmore ... the initial open-cast excavation ... to back-fill or continue ? ... pipe it and hope for the best ... Tony's death a week later ... the RatFest celebration of his life ...

September onwards; site preparation. Firstly, fencing the site to make it stockproof, then making a stile so we could get over the fence. Manufacturing 10 metres fixed steel ladder for the shaft and erecting a temporary headframe over the hole. What to do about stabilising the shaft ? Collecting timber and steel. A proto site-hut (made from pallets and cable-ties).

2008: December

Nothing happened at the hole that was worth mentioning

2008.029: Sun, 30th Nov

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley

In the morning took 64 bags from Caine Hill to the dump, then went over to the Wigmore Dairy unit and took two loads of timber over to the dig. Then Hunters' for lunch, met up with Alice and we both went back to Wigmore, collected the last of the timber and three lengths of re-bar, then spent the afternoon cleaning out the timber, removing nails, etc. Almost finished this, but not quite at 1600 hrs., but left anyway.

2008.028: Sat, 15th Nov

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley

The morning of the RatFest. Went over at 1000 taking black polythene sheeting and galvanised clout nails for the hut. Had visits from Duncan Price, Chris Jewell plus two and Pete Dennis (GSG). We then clad the rude hut with polythene sheeting, making a weather-proof shelter for about 2 or 3 people. Too small for long-term use but it will do for now.

2008.026: Wed, 12th Nov

Tony Audsley

Went over to the hole at 1030 (ish), having collected scaffold tube from the Belfry and tyres from the Wigmore silage pit. Finished the framework for the stile, then put down a pallet on some tyres and built a frame work for a temporary shelter out of more pallets. Left at 1600 hrs. as the moon was rising.

2008.025: Tue 11th Nov (pm)

Tony Audsley

Went over to the hole at 1 pm taking 10ft scaffolding poles, with the intention of making a rude stile. Fixed two A-frames with some cross pieces, then it started to rain heavily. Packed up at 2.30 and left for home where spent an hour fettling scaffold clamps.

2008.024: Wed, 29th Oct

Henry Bennett, Pete Hellier, Tony Audsley

A wet and generally horrible evening. Tony and Pete went over to the hole, taking scaffolding (to fence the shaft) and scrap car wheels (for foundations for the tripod if necessary). We bolted the Rose Cottage tripod together and set it up roughly over the shaft. Two legs resting on rocks, one on a car wheel.

Pete went down the shaft and found 6 inches of standing water at the bottom.

That was enough, so packed up and then met Henry Bennett walking over in the rain. Unanimous decision to go to Hunters' - best idea all evening.

2008.023: Wed, 22nd Oct

Henry Bennett, Tony Audsley

Took the lengths of ladder over to the dig in the morning.

In the evening, Tony & Henry bolted the sections together and then lowered the ladder down the shaft and hung it from a belay at the top.

Went down the shaft and found the bottom very wet and squalid, although no standing water. The bottom concrete ring was cracked, but the pipework did not appear to have moved.

2008.016-020: Mon-Fri 13-17th Oct

Tony Audsley

On Monday, Avon Steel delivered five lengths of 40 mm x 8 mm flat and three lengths of 12 mm bright round bar to Cheddar. Spent the rest of the week making jigs and then producing three ten foot lengths of ladder and fittings.

2008.011: Sat, 4th Oct

Tony Audsley

Early at the farm and towed the strips over to the depression. Dragged them into the enclosure and then beetled off back to the Belfry in time for the AGM.

2008.010: Fri, 3rd Oct

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley

Avon Steel phoned at 1630hrs to say that five 6m x 50mm x 6 mm steel strips, plus three 6m lengths of 16 mm re-bar had just been delivered to Wigmore Farm. Packed welder, helmet, goggles, angle grinder, clamps and heaps of other stuff and drove up to the farm. Tied the strips to the back of the car with binder twine and towed them over to the dairy unit. Set up for welding the strips together.

No welding rods. 'They words' were uttered.

Back to Cheddar for the rods then we converted six 5 metre strips into three 10 metre strips. Packed up all the gear then off to Hunters' for tea and biscuits.

2008.004 - 006: Wed - Fri, 24th - 26th Sep

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley

Bought strain posts, split posts, wire and staples from Uphills and borrowed a post hole digger from Dave Speed. Then spent three happy days digging holes, fixing posts, straining wire, watching dragon-flies dancing over the pond in the sunshine and getting blisters.

2008.002: Thu, 18th Sep

Tony Audsley

Went over to the depression to stake out a possible fence line. Found a small lake in front of the shaft.

A lot of water had drained from this previously and scoured out a channel, washing away material from around the top of the shaft. Enlarged and deepened the channel to try to lower the water level of the pond a little [this was a mistake].

Bridget Perkins said she had been over at the dig when it was raining hard and had heard a lot of water falling down the shaft.

Created: 19-May-2010