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Photograph of R. F. LeGear

R. F. LeGear


Rod LeGear has been an active member of the Kent Archaeological Society since 1963 and has specialised in mining archaeology and underground surveying and recording. In 1981 he founded the Kent Underground Research Group to promote the study of mining and other underground features in Kent and south east England.

Title: The Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society's Chalk Mine and the Building of the Bostall Estate
Abstract: At the end of the nineteenth century the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society took a bold step and made the move from market gardening to property development. They moved the whole of the works department from their headquarters at Woolwich and built a new housing estate at Abbey Wood. Today little remains to show of the massive undertaking, with only some of the road names giving a clue to a Co-operative Society’s involvement with the estate: Federation Road, Congress Road, Conference Road, etc.
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The Margate Shell Grotto
Abstract: The curious Shell Grotto in the Kent seaside resort of Margate has intrigued and mystified visitors ever since it was first opened to the public in the mid-nineteenth century.   The fascinating and elaborate designs made up of literally millions of shells which decorate the Grotto have lead to many theories as to the original purpose of the structure and its date of creation.

The writer has examined the site purely as an excavated void in the chalk in order to give some clues as to its possible date of construction.  
By examining the construction of the tunnels and comparing them with other underground sites in Kent and the south-east of England it was possible to give some clues as to its date of excavation. The findings would suggest that the Grotto is perhaps hundreds of years old not the thousands of years as some writers in the past have suggested.
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C. N. Kidd's Chalk Mine at Shepherds Lane, Dartford

The huge demand for bricks in the latter half of the 19th century saw many brickfields springing up wherever suitable materials could be found.

The brewer and businessman Charles N Kidd of Dartford took advantage of the high demand and started a brickmaking business in Shepherds Lane to the east of the town.

An ingredient of the yellow stock bricks being produced was crushed chalk which was obtained from a deep mine beneath the brickfield.

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Margate Caves, Cliftonville
Abstract: Margate Caves are located on Northdown Road, Cliftonville and have been a popular tourist attraction since the 1860s when they were first opened to the public as ‘Vortigern’s cavern’.

The artificial chalk caves were originally a small chalk mine that was later adapted and enhanced to attract the paying public.

In 2004, the Caves were forced to close due to Health and Safety issues and access to the site is now prohibited, the long-term future of the Caves being uncertain. This short paper is based on a report prepared by the writer for the Heritage Developments Advisor of Thanet District Council in December 2008.