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The Tunnels, Mines & Caverns

As the early limestone quarries on Castle Hill got deeper they became mines. The inside of the hill was extensively exploited and became a maze of mines, tunnels, steps and plate railways. This map shows only some of the mines and features on the 472' (canal) level.
Explore the hidden world under Castle Hill by rolling your mouse over the map.

The Mines Under Castle Hill Shirt's Mill Basin
SHIRTS MILL BASIN
Shirts Mill Basin

Shirts Mill Basin was originally an underground loading area for limestone.

Castle Mill Basin
CASTLE MILL BASIN
Castle Mill Basin

Originally an underground limestone mine, the basin is now a junction of four tunnels.

Coral Reef

420 million years ago the Dudley area was a shallow tropical sea; the fossilised remains of a coral reef can be seen.

Tipton Tunnel
TIPTON TUNNEL
Tipton Tunnel

The first of the tunnel complex under Castle Hill to be built. Work began in 1775 on Lord Dudley and Ward’s branch canal from the Birmingham Canal to his Colliery at Tipton Green and then to his limestone mines under Castle Hill, terminating in a 220 yard tunnel.

Wrens Nest Tunnel
WRENS NEST TUNNEL
Wrens Nest Tunnel

This 1185 yard tunnel was completed about 1815. The Wren’s Nest Tunnel served a series of extensive limestone mines. The tunnel may be made navigable once more in the future.

Cathedral Arch
CATHEDRAL ARCH
Cathedral Arch

A unique vaulted underground canal junction on the main tunnel.  The tunnel on the left was the original entrance to Little Tess and Dark Cavern.  Straight ahead is the main Dudley Tunnel to Parkhead.

Cathedral Arch
LITTLE TESS
Little Tess

Originally part of a much larger cavern called Dark Cavern. The cavern was subject to a major roof fall and sealed.

Hurst Cavern
HURST CAVERN
Hurst Cavern

This was the last working limestone mine under Castle Hill, the final rock being extracted in 1920.

Dudley Canal Tunnel
DUDLEY CANAL TUNNEL
Dudley Canal Tunnel

Built between 1785 and 1792 this tunnel is 2904 yards from the Parkhead portal to Castle Mill Basin. The tunnel was closed by the British Waterways in 1962 and officially re-opened by Dudley Canal Trust in 1973. In 1981 the tunnel began to collapse about 6oo yards from the Parkhead portal and was forced to be closed. It was re-opened again in 1992.

The Well
THE WELL
The Well

The Well was given its name as when looking down it from the surface all that can be seen is the canal below. Its original use remains unknown. Unless it was to provide light for Hurst Cavern. It is at the bottom of a trench where the Thin Bed of limestone was worked (same as in Singing cavern), so it may have simply collapsed.

1989 Canal Tunnel
1989 CANAL TUNNEL
1984 Canal Tunnel

Constructed to link Castle Mill Basin with Little Tess mine.

1984 Canal Tunnel
1984 CANAL TUNNEL
1984 Canal Tunnel

The first canal tunnel to be built in the UK since Netherton Tunnel in 1858. Linking Singing Cavern to the main tunnel at The Well. The tunnel was awarded its own Blue Peter badge upon opening.

Rock Tunnel
ROCK TUNNEL
Rock Tunnel

An original service tunnel, linking Little Tess with Singing Cavern.

Singing Cavern
SINGING CAVERN
Singing Cavern

Last mined in the early 19th C. The canal extended for 330 yards from the rock tunnel, but the cavern itself, with a tramway along it, ended up near the centre of Dudley. More than half a mile, perhaps. Over the years the cavern has collapsed. Approximately 100 yards of cavern is all that remains today, but with 7 supporting limestone pillars, each weighing 300 tons and two loading shafts, it is easy to imagine what it was like in its heyday.

Murder Mine
MURDER MINE
Murder Mine

The remains of the entrance to this mine can be seen in Castle Mill basin adjacent to the 1989 tunnel portal and christened Murder mine by locals after the remains of an unknown woman were removed in the late 1940s. Local theories seem to indicate that she took shelter from an air raid in WW2 in the mine, but failed to find her way out.

Dark Cavern
DARK ('144') CAVERN
Dark Cavern

This cavern is now back fliled and sealed due to rock falls. The roof was held up by a series of gigantic pillars left when the limestone was mined. The canal extended for 418 yards from Cathedral Arch to an underground junction with a 106 yard branch to the Mudhole Cavern.

Dark Cavern

(above: the canal junction with the canal branch to Mudhole Cavern)

Dragons
HERE BE DRAGONS
Dragons

Unfortunately no dragons have been found under Castle Hill yet!

Air Shaft
QUARRY PIT
Air Shaft

Used in the construction of the canal tunnel

ACCESS SHAFT
ACCESS SHAFT
Access Shaft

Access shaft used to bring limestone up from the lower workings to be loaded into boats in Singing Cavern.

FLOODED MINE
FLOODED MINE
Flooded Mine

Alledgedly it was given its name by the miners who worked it, as despite constant pumping, they were nearly always working knee deep in water. This is probably untrue as limestone was mined at great depth on both sides of the hill, on two levels near Shirt’s Mill, and the workings were drained by one or more pumping engines at what was formerly Castle Mill Works. ‘Flooded Mine’ is a more recent name – clearly given after pumping ceased.

Tipton Mine
TIPTON MINE
Tipton Mine

Probably used to unload coal, that was transported along the tunnel and raised to the surface for use by the pumping and winding engines.

Tipton Portal
TIPTON PORTAL
Tipton Portal

The gateway to the underground world under Castle Hill. Dudley Canal Trust operate the trip boats from here.

Parkhead Portal
PARKHEAD PORTAL
Parkhead Portal

The southern entrance of the Dudley Canal Tunnel. This end of the tunnel was  damaged by mining subsidence from time to time during the 19th C. and the portal and about 200 yards of tunnel were rebuilt in 1884.

Mudhole Cavern
MUDHOLE CAVERN
Mudhole Cavern

The canal branch from Dark Cavern ended with a loading wharf. The cavern is now back filled and sealed.