Located within the World Heritage Site of Bath, the Combe Down Stone Mines were worked extensively in the 18th and 19th centuries as a primary source of the honey-coloured stone used to build the city of Bath.
The mines remained largely unnoticed until, in 1989, a utilities contractor accidentally broke through into the abandoned complex bringing the world of Ralph Allen, his miners and the unique bat habitat that they unwittingly created to the attention of the wider community. It soon became evident that the village, with over 700 homes plus schools, businesses and highways sitting directly over the mines, were at risk. When Bath & North East Somerset Council secured funding from the Homes and Communities Agency's Land Stabilisation Programme, it began the momentous task of securing the future of the village of Combe Down.
The unique and complex project that resulted produced innovative engineering solutions to stabilise the mine roof and re-create habitats for the protected bat species. It also managed to deal sensitively with the unique archaeology of the site and develop a strong relationship with the local community.
The project is now complete and the village is safe but its legacy will continue for generations to come.