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Wilmington's very own Time Team out to find bottom of 600-year-old 95ft well
THERE are lots of things to consider when buying an old house – the plumbing; the damp; the fact the whole thing might fall down.
But the main thing on Tom Pritchard’s mind when he bought Well Cottage in High Road, Wilmington, two years ago was what on earth might be at the bottom of the well just yards from his new front door.
The shaft is said to have once been the water source for the entire village and be anything up to 600 years old and 95ft deep.
A big fan of cult Channel 4 programme Time Team, Tom has roped in two pals and started out on his own archaeological quest.
As often as he can the 40-year-old is joined by musician mates Greg Leppard, 46, and Chris Thorne, 43, who travel all the way from Walthamstow and Finsbury Park to get their hands dirty.
Getting strapped in.
Father-of-three Tom told News Shopper: "I just want to know what’s at the bottom; I mean there could be anything down there couldn’t there?
"Even before I bought the house I was fascinated by finding things. If I could find anything I think a safe full of old coins wouldn’t be a bad shout.
"The further down we go the older the stuff will get and that’s exciting."
The team are currently around a third of the way down at 32.5ft but have hit a solid mass of broken bricks and other debris likely left over from when a previous owner wanted to get rid of the remains of a demolished part of the cottage.
They are struggling to dig down 4ft a day sending 10 buckets of material per trip up to the surface to be dumped in a skip.
Oh dear: more than 30ft still to go.
When it’s my turn to be lowered down Tom is quick to stress the importance of arranging the harness correctly around the groin area – once you start your descent, there’s no way back should you find a certain part of your anatomy isn’t where it should be out of harm’s way.
Being lowered into the abyss isn't easy either as you have to trust the winch to take your weight while your feet dangle somewhere below in the dark.
It takes around five nervous minutes to reach the bottom as the light receeds further with each grinding clunk of the manually operated mechanism.
That'll be a well selfie.
Once you're down, hacking at those bricks with a shovel is a thankless task in such a confined space and that circle of light 30ft up looks vanishingly small so you can only imagine what it will look like when it’s three times as far away.
One thing I wouldn’t fancy finding is a bit of unexploded ordnance – not that Chris was too bothered when his fellow diggers played a prank on the guitarist.
Sound engineer Tom said: "We put my son William’s Second World War grenade down there to scare Chris but he just trampled it and then we couldn’t find it again.
I'd like to come up now please.
"William was getting quite upset until one of us dug it out from somewhere."
Unfortunately, the haul so far only stretches to a pair of fridges, a deflated space hopper, a small statue of Jesus and an extremely creepy looking doll.
Luckily for Tom though he doesn’t have to impress wife Emma, 43, with the finds from a mission he is estimating will cost him £8,000 when it’s finally completed sometime next year.
He said: "She’s not that happy about it because of the mess that it makes but it’s ok – she just goes shopping instead."
Anyone interested in helping out or contributing to the dig e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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