ESGAIRHIR MINE


In 1983, John Davies, Rob Davies and myself explored the surface remains of Esgairhir Mine (NGR SN735912) near Machynlleth in Wales. As we were examining Glas Shaft, and trying to estimate its depth, we heard a strange sound from the bottom. It was like someone or some thing crawling over a gravel tip and we all lay flat around the shaft collar to hear it better. At the time, we thought that someone was exploring the underground workings but we knew that the "Long Adit" was blocked some distance from its portal. There were no ladders or SRT gear rigged in the shaft so how could anyone be down there?

We shouted down the 150ft shaft in case someone had survived a fall and was crawling about the shaft bottom. It was now approximately 1 minutes since the sound began and we had no response at all to our shouting. It was at this point that the sound became extra weird - like mumbling that you would hear if a group of people were talking at the shaft bottom. The mumbling sound then changed to laughter which became quite hysterical. It was almost if the demons of the deep workings, known as "knockers", were trying to entice us down the shaft. After what seemed to be ages the strange sound stopped and, none of us believing in ghosts, we tried to come up with a logical explanation for the sounds.

We eventually came to the conclusion that it was due to the excellent acoustic properties of the shaft and through it having a slot for a balance bob some 15ft below the shaft collar. This configuration acted as some sort of sound collector and amplifier. We thought it possible that some children were playing on the mine tips further down the valley and the sound was focused through the balance bob slot and down the shaft. This of course was only a theory as we could not find anyone in the area to cause this eery sound of the deep.

Some 18 months later, Nick Southwick and myself bought our first SRT gear, complete with 150ft and 300ft of SRT rope. We practised on an oak tree for a couple of days and then we thought it was time to have a go at the real thing! So we returned to Glas Shaft to see what was down its eery depths. We were very uneasy about the descent, not only because of its depth and it being our first time at SRT but also because of our previous experience at the shaft. Armed with a telephone system, we descended the shaft and passed the wooden pump rod still in place. Half way down, water issued from the side of the shaft and, some further 70ft below this, we came to Deep Adit level. The shaft was blocked with rubble at this point with the remains of a wooden ladder showing through the debris.

We explored Deep Adit in the direction of the blockage for about 200ft but decided to return at this point due to the unstable nature of the roof, with chains and pulleys hanging from rotten timbers, etc. We returned to the surface, not seeing or hearing anything strange. The mystery of the haunted shaft still remains to this day.

extracted from "Ghostly Sounds from Glas Shaft, Esgairhir Mine", Rob Southwick, SCMC Journal No.1


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Last revised: 21 April 1998