Recording the sonic impact of the deepest hand-dug well in the world!
The Sounding Space at Queen’s Park offers NISG a unique opportunity to investigate how subterranean human activity can cause the percolation of sound into the Earth.
At the same time, the site demonstrates how mining activity can release glacial and submarine sonic phenomena that have been locked in the ground, sometimes for hundreds of thousands of years.
PERCOLATED SONIC PHENOMENA:
Early investigations by NISG have detected an exciting range of percolated sonic phenomena that appear to have been generated during the sinking of nearby Woodingdean Well in the 19th century, the deepest hand dug well in the world. These include:
Conversational phenomena Voices of workhouse labourers and foremen.
Melodic phenomena Singing and work-song refrains.
Ambient phenomena Water, tool sounds, hammers and picks, light industrial noise.
Woodingdean Well lies 2 miles North East of the Queens Park Sounding Space. The well is a 1285ft vertical shaft, the depth of which is greater than the height of the Empire State Building.
The Well was built by forced Workhouse labour, without the use of machines, between 1858 and 1862. Soil was dug out by hand, placed in buckets and hand-winched to the top of the shaft. After 2 years’ work, the shaft had sunk 438 feet, but no water had been found. A lateral chamber was driven 30ft northwards, but this too yielded nothing. Further, unsuccessful, lateral tunnels were driven westwards and eastwards. Refusing to acknowledge defeat, the Brighton Guardians ordered the construction of a further 4ft shaft at the end of the eastern tunnel.
NOTE: It is thought that this extensive disruption of subterranean strata has also led to the emergence of wider sonic phenomena, both at the Well site itself and here in Queen’s Park.
Work continued for several more years with men working 24 hours a day, by candlelight, in appalling conditions. Teams of men had to dig, load buckets and lay bricks, working within the confines of a 4ft circle. Winch Men stood on tiny platforms cut into the side of the shaft, calling instructions and passing spoil up, and bricks down, as the shaft continued downwards.
At the change of the evening shifts on Sunday 16th March 1862, a bricklayer noticed that the thin crust of earth he was standing on was being slowly pushed upwards, like a giant piston. Scrambling up the numerous ladders to each Winch Man's platform, he quickly vacated the shaft. Suddenly with a roar, the piston head crumbled and tools, buckets and ladders flooded up the shaft. Water had at last been found.
NOTE: Conversational, melodic and ambient sonic phenomena arising from percolation of this sound-activity have formed the basis of initial NISG explorations in this area. Echo type data derived from this proto-historic flood event has been detected by Ear Trumpet technology within the background sound profile of the Queen’s Park Sounding Space.
The last 850ft of the Woodingdean Well shaft is below sea level, exposing a Transmission Layer that emits echo-type evidence of sonic sedimentation from within submarine geological locations offshore.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Queen’s Park appears to lie on a geological fault line that links the Upper Cretaceous Chalk of the Woodingdean area with the undersea wave-cut platform off Brighton and Newhaven Marina, allowing us to Listen to the Seabed!
LISTENING TO THE SEABED. THE QUEENS PARK TRANSMISSION LAYER; RELEASE OF GLACIAL SOUND and DETECTION of SUBMARINE SONIC PHENOMENA.
Queen’s Park sits on a connecting fault that transects an 11km stretch of coastal cliffs from Newhaven to Kemptown. The fault joins up with a wave-cut platform offshore from Brighton Marina. The effect of the Woodingdean Well disruption has been to expose a Sonic Transmission Layer along this fault, through which glacial and submarine sonic phenomena can be recorded.
The sonic geology of the Upper Cretaceous Chalk dates back 70-75 million years, when the uplifting and gentle folding of the chalk trapped sound in a process of sonic sedimentation. This process continued beyond the end of the Cretaceous period (65 million years ago) until as recently as 1.8 million years ago. Large crystalline sandstone boulders, or sarsen stones, have also been located in the vicinity of nearby St Nicholas Church.
NOTE: These ‘puddingstones’ are believed to play a significant role in Crystalline Induction in the Sounding Space (Barrows, S: forthcoming)
The drift geology of the Brighton and Hove area is varied. On the rising Downland there are dry valley deposits of sand and gravels, and clay-with-flints. The distinctive dry valleys of the Downs are a product of peri-glacial erosion.
NOTE: Studies by NISG have revealed significant imprinting of bass-frequency sound associated with the movement of ancient glaciers. This ground-breaking research (no pun intended) is generating a glacial sonic map that reveals processes that have shaped the very Earth itself (Brunel, H. & Lathenby, B., Journal of Experimental Sonic Geology: 22.1, 75-91).
From Newhaven to Brighton Marina the chalk cliffs provide an iconic backdrop to the pebble beaches below. The
Queen’s Park Transmission Layer runs through the chalk block, which is eroded off shore to form a wave-cut platform with deep chalk gullies. These extend into the sub-tidal zone, where they form species-rich reef habitats. Sat on a flat, gently shelving coastal platform, the near-shore waters are shallow, less than 15m in depth.
NOTE: “Sand waves” exist in places on the seabed. These formations are believed to act as sonic funnels that induce a frequency response in the Transmission Layer, allowing underwater sound to be detected, even this far inland at Queen’s Park. Amateur Sonic Geologists can observe a similar effect with a simple home experiment involving a plastic tube, a helpful friend and a bath full of sand and warm water (See: Sonic Geology for Amateurs, Training Guide 4: p31-4).
Most of the seabed is covered by mobile sediments, from flint cobbles to finer gravels, sands and mud. In places it is dusted with the shattered shells of Slipper Limpets and the nests of Black Bream (Spondyliosoma cantharus). NOTE: Investigations by the NISG Snorkel Team (Lathenby, B, capt) have proven that vibrations from these mobile sediments are the primary sonic response within the Transmission Layer. Sonar communication by Short-snouted Seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus) and cetaceans including Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncates) and Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) are also a significant local feature of this sound profile.
Legend and Fable:
At NISG we have no truck with folklore or pseudoscience. We deal in cold, hard, scientific fact. However, the myth of The Devil's Dyke does appear to have some relevance to our study. The Devil’s Dyke is a 300ft-deep valley in the Downs 5 miles NW of the Sounding Space. It is said that the Devil dug the chasm to allow the sea to flood the churches of the Weald, but left his terrible work unfinished when an old lady lit a candle and he fled, thinking it was the rising sun.
NOTE: In reality the valley was carved by meltwater during the last Ice Age and deepened by the high speed 'sludging' of the saturated chalk. This was a VERY NOISY PROCESS, as at least three NISG volunteer field workers, will confirm after suffering temporary hearing loss after tuning into these intense, glacial sonic imprints without the regulation headgear. SONIC SAFETY everyone, please!
The Sounding Space: Queen’s Park:
Queen’s Park opened as a subscription park in 1824. Property owner and developer Thomas Attree, known as the ‘King of Brighton’, acquired the land to build an exclusive residential park, inspired by Regent's Park in London. Attree commissioned architect Charles Galloway to design the park and named it after Queen Adelaide
To the north-west of the park, on Queen's Park Road, stands the Pepper Pot (also called the "Pepper Box"). It was originally built as a horizontal wind-powered water pump, and was later used for the publishing of a local newspaper, an artist's studio and a public convenience.
The German Spa: In the early part of the nineteenth century there were spas all over Europe, but Brighton lacked the natural spring water necessary for a spa. Frederick Struve, a research chemist from Saxony, had invented a chemical process that reproduced the characteristics of natural mineral water and believed there was enough trade in Brighton to set up an establishment.
In 1825 Struve opened the pump room of his 'German Spa' in Queen’s Park, where customers could obtain the waters of Karlsbad, Marienbad, Bad Pyrmont and other continental spas. In the first season there were 333 subscribers to the spa and in 1835, ten years after opening, Struve obtained the patronage of King William IV.
By the 1850s the practice of taking waters fell out of fashion and the pump room closed. Struve turned to producing bottled mineral water and fizzy drinks. Only in the Second World War did the spa stop production, when it became a fire watching station and a gas-mask issuing station. The pump room was demolished in the mid-1970s, and only the spa's neo-classical façade remains. The Royal Spa Nursery School was built on the site in 1977.