On the edge of Snailbeach village (in the Stiperstone Hills, south of Shrewsbury), the Scott Level is a small gated portal which runs under the main Snailbeach road, heading in the direction of Resting Hill and eventually towards Crowsnest Dingle.
For many years this was considered to be a relatively insignificant level as there are no known records and the level was dammed some distance in.
Bad Air - BEWARE Access to this mine is strictly controlled, it suffers from bad air - a serious oxygen deficiency and high levels of hydrogen sulphide has been recorded in the level
If you visit the area: DO NOT enter any workings or tunnels without permission and without taking proper precautions.
The Site Today
For a number of years the level was sealed by dams and therefore inaccessible.
There have been two dams; the closest to the entrance was a concrete dam to chest depth, approximately 30m from the entrance. This was used as a water supply by a number of properties around the entrance.
However, there was a more substantial dam approximately 200m from the entrance; this dam consisted of large wooden sleepers arranged as a 'V' pointing into the level, backed by around 12" (0.3m) of clay, held in place by a wall of bricks. A 6" (0.15m) metal pipe leads from this dam to a shaft up to Resting Hill. It was suggested in the 1980's that Scott Level had been dammed to provide a water supply to the main Snailbeach Mine surface workings.
The water travelled from the dam via the metal tube up the shaft on Resting Hill, but part way up, the water pipe was taken out via another level and carried out on the surface round the hill to the mine processing plant.
The shaft on Resting Hill now has a grill covering it but the pipes are still in the shaft and the level to surface (although this has collapsed before it reaches the surface).
Club members breached the first dam in the late 1980's. In the early 1990's both dams were completely breached by contractors on behalf of the County Council, but full investigation of the level was limited by low oxygen levels.
The entrance of the level had been briefly visited to check for bats
but the level had not been properly entered by club member until recently
the late 1990s.
Six Club Members have explored the mine, in search of bats and underground workings as far as oxygen levels permit.
Both dams have been breached and there is only shallow water until after the site of the second dam. Here accumulated mud is still retained and thigh/waist deep water is encountered for some distance.
It has now been established that the level is much longer than originally imagined and there is clear evidence of workings on the vein some distance in. The level is very straight, without any side passages for approximatly 460m. Around 6m before the end of this straight drive, there is a branch to the left; this was only explored for about 30m before the low oxygen level prevented further exploration.
At the end of the main drive, the level turns left where it follows a vein which has been worked to some extent. This branch was followed for approximately a further 280m before the low oxygen level again curtailed further progress.
A short distance along this branch, there is a small cross-cut, to the right, to a flooded square shaft (this has been plumbed to a depth of over 30m on a subsequent visit) and there are further branches a bit further on again; which have yet to be explored.
Now that it has been established that Scott Level is of considerable size with evidence of working and a shaft to a lower level, it is speculated that other shafts near the portal may be part of the same workings, rather than being simply air shafts for the Snailbeach drainage level.
This was one of the first occasions that the Club's new Oxygen meter had been used. The alarm on the meter was set to go off at 18% and exploration was terminated at 17.8 %.
The level has since been re-visited, when the air conditions allowed and the remaining 3 branches pushed to their ends (which was not much further than this initial exploration.
When visiting this level it is ESSENTIAL that proper precautions are taken to ensure that acceptable oxygen levels are kept to; although visited during a period of relatively low air pressure, the pressure was increasing and it is possible that the air quality does not improve upon that already experienced.
Report: Steve Holding
Sketch: Andy Yapp
Bats are known to live in the area, and some were found in the workings examined. DO NOT disturb them, particularly during the hibernation season.
Bad Air - this mine is notorious for poor air, mainly Oxygen deficiency and Hydrogen Sulphide, so EXTREME caution should be exercised when visiting this site.