On Saturday we had the good fortune to meet an NMRS member who had been to Ayton Monument 40 years ago with John Owen, what follows are some observations he sent me.
Things change over 40 years. The incline was a grassy track, no fishing lake, no trees, powder store apparently in fair condition and clearly seen, the little bit of the abandoned drainage drift was not a stagnant pool but quite dry, although I seem to remember a small (probably modern) pipe less than 6″ emerging from the hillside. We were there in a very dry period. Inbye the arched drift from the fan house was clean and dry and the small furnace remains were much as it is now. There were large roots growing through from the surface at the blocked entrance to one of the drifts, which in poor light resembled electric cables! The main change at the large furnace was the total disappearance of the seat at the furnaceman’s refuge. When I was there with members of YGS and John Owen it was in fair condition and even had rags and tatters of some kind of screen, probably to protect the sitter from draught, which must have been gale force.Then, we didn’t get very far inbye, John’s safety lamp didn’t shout at us like your modern electronic device, but it gave warning of poor air early and with what was perceived as a degree of finality so we took notice. I’m glad of new technology because I saw a great deal more and had the privilege of some very good conversation. The crowning glory was to see John Owen’s photo. I’ve now bought Richard Pepper’s book.