HMS Royal Arthur, Sands and Box Quarrys

Author cloudsurferuk - Last updated: 01.02.2014

On sunday 3 of us decided to head over the border to Corsham, a site I have been to many times but they have always been "exploratory" as usually solo.

Anyway, the plan was to work around the main bulk of MOD Corsham looking at the underground connections and generally get a feel for the site. So we rocked up, got our kit ready and hiked off. After just 5 minutes of walking we spotted a white police pick up (cue "act normal" and "we’re just out for a walk" hysteria) which drove past us. Ah local bobbies we thought, right up until the point it drove past us a again, parked up down the road and reversed out of sight to presumably see what we were up to. As we headed straight past it "away" from MOD Corsham we noticed it was MOD Police. God they are good! we thought. Anyway, quit? not us and in fact that was the only hint we got of them all day.

So on we went firstly heading for the former HMS Royal Arthur, the long abandoned Navy training centre. The buildings are heavily vandalised and have had some new artwork over the years and it seems, will all be demolished very shortly given the amount of building equipment around. Anyway, it was worth a visit and some of the graffiti was pretty amazing.

After heading through HMS Royal Arthur we headed for our second destination, Sands Quarry. Thankfully the "MOD Keep Out" signs are long gone and the entrance is actually no longer on MOD property. However it is gated to discourage casual access. Heading down the slope into sands we got our first hint of "Site 3" the former Central Government War Headquarters known to most as Burlington (although this was one of its shortest used codewords). Sands Quarry was used as an emergency fire exit for Spring Quarry which contains site 3. We followed the poles that would have guided people out in an emergency up to the seemingly innocuous door that led into Spring Quarry which was ajar. Sadly, it is only ajar as it has a firmly bricked up portal behind it that is at least 12" thick. There are however signs of previous breakthrough’s into the world beyond but alas, we were not minded or equipped to follow. After a good look round the whole of Sands Quarry and admiring the blocks of Bath stone that were littered around we headed back up the slope and onto our next destination.

Heading around the perimeter fence of MOD Corsham we approached the western air shaft of Spring Quarry (this replaced the west lung in Box Mines) The air shaft is still intact however the maintenance/access building adjoining it has been demolished cutting it off as an access point forever. We continued out to White Ennox Lane where the western emergency exit building stands. Made to look like an electricity sub station of some kind it is actually a vertical shaft into the western end of Spring Quarry but welded shut isn’t, and will never be an access point to any part of it. however, a lose grill on the side gave another tantalising glimpse into that secret world.

On to our final destination of the day, Box Freestone Mines. Box mine is actually a quarry that like sands, was used to extract bath stone. Backdoor is now gated, although the key and map can be obtained from the local pub, and the whole site is protected as a site of special scientific interest due to the bat colonies. Access is allowed but at your own risk and on condition you do not light fires and generally do not be a twat. Once inside we headed straight for (ish) Cathedral and the massive cavern in the centre. and then onwards towards Brewers Drift and the MOD Tunnels of the former West Lung which led into Spring Quarry. We then realised that the survery we had didnt actually correlate well to the graffiti directions and we decided that, with time pushing on, discretion was the better part of valour and having not penetrated much further than Cathedral we turned back to fight another day.

Of course our main goal of visiting the area is Spring Quarry, isn’t everyone’s but it wasn’t to be. Of course, ask anyone and they will say Spring Quarry is locked down tighter than a ducks bum which it is……. but yet every now and again something surfaces and you remember, nothing is impossible. This one isn’t over


A few photos.


HMS Royal Arthur, Corsham by Cloudsurfer_UK, on Flickr


HMS Royal Arthur, Corsham by Cloudsurfer_UK, on Flickr


HMS Royal Arthur, Corsham by Cloudsurfer_UK, on Flickr


HMS Royal Arthur, Corsham by Cloudsurfer_UK, on Flickr


HMS Royal Arthur, Corsham by Cloudsurfer_UK, on Flickr


HMS Royal Arthur, Corsham by Cloudsurfer_UK, on Flickr


Sands_Quarry_001 by Cloudsurfer_UK, on Flickr


Sands_Quarry_012 by Cloudsurfer_UK, on Flickr


Site3_Emergency Exit by Cloudsurfer_UK, on Flickr


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