Our restoration works at Worsley Delph, the entrance to the underground canals that serviced the Duke of Bridgewater's Worsley coal mines from the 1760s onwards, have unearthed some astonishing discoveries. During early demolition and excavation works to the old viewing platform, two previously unknown tunnels were uncovered along with a stone quay and winch mechanism.
Construction works were immediately stopped to facilitate a visit from Salford University's Archaeology experts who have laser-scanned, photographed and recorded these finds.
The first tunnel can be seen in this photograph. A second tunnel was discovered to the right of the first one (behind the rubble bags), although this had a skin wall which prevents access into it.
As the tunnels lie directly in front of where the new viewing platform will be, they will unfortunately be hidden from view once the works are complete. Following the thorough investigation by local archaeologists, the tunnels have been in-filled with compacted stone and a reversible foamcrete - this will ensure they will remain safely intact should a decision be taken in future to uncover them.
The tunnels will however be referenced on the interpretation panels on the new viewing platform and the potential to restore the winch for display on the viewing platform is being explored.
Work on the Delph island, the new viewing platform and the perimeter of the site are due to be finished in summer 2019.
Research is still ongoing as to the exact provenance of these recent discoveries in the Delph.
Local historians John Aldred and Judith Atkinson (who examined the tunnels, the quay and the winch on site) have been very intrigued as to the finds and you can read their thoughts here.