Beech Caves were brought to my attention by Dom Bloomfield, and as they can be found close to Newcastle-under-Lyme I decided to go in search of them to photograph them and try to find some information concerning them.
I followed the A34 from Newcastle heading towards Stone until I came into the village of Tittensor, you then need to look for Winghouse lane which will be on your right. Follow this lane for about half a mile until you see a small lane on your right called Beechdale road, follow this narrow road for about three-quarters of a mile, it will lead you over the M6 motorway bridge, shortly after this you will start climbing a hill with a wood on it, you will be able to see Beech caves on your left hand side from the road.
The caves themselves have unfortunately been covered with a great deal of graffiti and one of the local farmers has tipped manure in front of one of the cave entrances, however this didn’t put me off entering this man made cave system to take a series of photographs.
The cave was formed due to pillar and stall workings when the red Keuper Sandstone which was formed in the Triassic period was removed for building purposes. It would appear that stone was removed from this site as far back as 1633 as documents which have been found show that a Roger Low was paid 22 pence a score to remove 130ft of stone from this site on the 31st of August of that year. Other documents have been recovered which suggest that New Trentham Hall was constructed from this red sandstone also in 1633.
There are other references to stone being removed from the cave in the 1680s. The 1850 Tithe map shows that the woodland where the cave is belonged to a Thomas Fitzherbert however the cave was not shown on any maps until 1924 when it was shown as “Beech Caves” prior to that it was shown as just a quarry when it first appeared on a map in 1901.
According to locals who lived in the area during the war it is their claim that the site was “out of bounds” presumably guarded by the military this has lead to speculation that the army was using it to store ordnance. Some people claim that it was the ordnance factory at nearby Swynnerton that used it for storing ammunition, while others are of the belief that it was used by the American base at Trentham, however there does not seem to be any official records to support these claims.
Although the caves are not very extensive compared to the man made Crank Caverns I have written about it is estimated that Beech cave covers an area of 1400 x 2 square metres, also there is speculation that the council may seal them off from the public in the future for health and safety reasons.