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by Nick McCamley


230 pages, 235mm x 156mm
ISBN: 978 0 9928554 99
Publication date: October 2021

Price: £15.00


This book was written to provide a comprehensive overview of the quite incredible subterranean world that lies beneath Corsham and the surrounding areas. A number of specialist books have been published over the previous decade or so by Folly Books, recording in words and pictures the detailed history of Corsham's underground infrastructure, including Derek Hawkins' Bath Stone Quarries, Nick Catford's Burlington and the current author's Secret Underground Cities and Second World War Secret Bunkers. This book, however, brings all of these previous tomes together into a single, easily digestible volume which, I hope, will be of interest to those readers who don't need to know all the financial intricacies of the Victorian quarrying companies, the engineering and geological difficulties encountered and overcome during the adaptation of many of the quarries for ammunition storage (and other purposes) during the Second World War, or the geo-political shenanigans and rampant paranoia that led to the construction of the Burlington bunker. What we have here is a good, overall history, profusely illustrated, of all the major features and developments of the Corsham quarries from the 1830s to the present day. Over the years many myths and urban legends have circulated regarding what exactly went on beneath Corsham - here the reader will discover that many of those legends were closer to the truth than they ever imagined..... 

Corsham appears to be growing at an exponential rate, with new housing developments springing up like mushrooms overnight. With luck, this book will enlighten these new residents as to what lies beneath their feet and explain why, for instance, a monstrous concrete monolith looms menacingly over Copenacre Way, squatting in a sinister fashion beside the A4 western approach to the town. 

A further reason for writing this book is that Derek Hawkins' Bath Stone Quarries and Nick Catford's Burlington are currently out of print and although a reprint is scheduled, the current vagaries of exchange rates and shipping delays mean that they may be some time coming. With luck, this book may stimulate sufficient interest for the reader to thirst for further knowledge, a thirst that in time Derek and Nick's books will quench. 

 The vast majority of the illustrations in this book, with the exception perhaps of those of Monkton Farleigh quarry, were taken by, or come from the collection of, Derek Hawkins, and in many ways this book is as much his work as it is mine, and for that reason I express my deep gratitude to him. Nick Catford too, has supplied me with some great photographs and, indeed, has always shown the greatest generosity in allowing the use of his photographs in other books published by Folly Books. Although almost all of the once highly secretive underground government facilities in the Corsham area are now long abandoned, a handful of small installations remain; although what goes on in them is supposed to be more-or-less secret their locations are not so secret but, as we have no photographs to illustrate them, they have been excluded from this book..

About the author:

Born in Bradford-on-Avon in November 1950, educated in the physical sciences at Bath Technical School, the historical sciences at Trowbridge College and the social sciences at Nottingham University, Nick McCamley, according to his own testimony, entered the adult world totally devoid of all ambition or direction in life. After his marriage to Vicky in 1973 he established himself as a restorer of clocks and antique electric telegraph instruments while also publishing a monthly advertising magazine to meet the needs of collectors of railway antiquities. Passionately interested in industrial archaeology and underground engineering, in 1984 he acquired the immensely sophisticated, eighty-acre, Second World War underground ammunition depot at Monkton Farleigh – by then abandoned and heavily vandalized – which became the subject of an arduous ten-year restoration project. Subsequently, he was engaged in programming the air traffic control radar simulators at Bailbrook College in Bath, which in the 1990s was the world’s foremost ATC training centre. Currently, he is a director of a small publishing company although much of his time is occupied with writing, research and lecturing on a wide range of subjects based broadly upon military history and industrial archaeology.
Nick McCamley is the author of a number of books on the more unusual aspects of Britain’s wartime history, including the widely acclaimed Secret Underground Cities, Cold War Secret Nuclear Bunkers, Second World War Secret Bunkers, and The Fauld Disaster. He is widely acknowledged as the primary authority on Britain’s subterranean wartime heritage.