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SideTracked Earthcache - Manchester Oxford Road EarthCache

Hidden : 04/06/2017
1.5 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size:   other (other)

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Geocache Description:

About SideTracked Caches

This cache belongs to the SideTracked series. It is not designed to take you to a magical place with a breath taking view. It's a distraction for the weary traveller, but anyone else can go and find it too. More Information can be found at the SideTracked Website

About Manchester Oxford Road Station

SideTracked Earthcache - Manchester Oxford Road Station Stalactites

This Earthcache is located beneath Oxford Road Railway station. You do not need to enter the station to get the information needed for this Earthcache.

Manchester Oxford Road Station

The station opened as Oxford Road on 20 July 1849 and was the headquarters of the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway (MSJAR) until 1904. The station had two platforms and two sidings, with temporary wooden buildings. To allow for extra trains in connection with the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition in 1857, extra platforms and sidings were built. In 1874, the station was completely rebuilt, providing two bay platforms and three through platforms. Further reconstruction took place during 1903-04. From 1931 it was served by the MSJAR's 1500V DC electric trains between Altrincham and Manchester Piccadilly.

From July 1959, Altrincham electric trains were cut back from Piccadilly to terminate at Oxford Road in two new bay platforms. The station's other lines were re-electrified at 25 kV AC. The whole station was again rebuilt and reopened on 12 September 1960. When Manchester Central railway station closed in 1969, further rebuilding took place: one of the bay platforms was taken out of use and a new through platform provided (platform 1), the others being renumbered accordingly. The track layout was changed so that there were four through and one bay platforms. In 1971 the Altrincham line was re-electrified at 25 kV AC and the 1930s DC trains withdrawn; from then on, local trains from Altrincham ran through to Piccadilly and on to Crewe. Oxford Road thus became predominantly a through station.

Use of the station increased in 1988 when the Windsor Link between Deansgate and Salford Crescent opened, connecting lines to the north and south of Manchester. This led to further investment in the station, including the installation of computer screens.

In 1992, the Altrincham line stopping service was converted to light rail operation for the Manchester Metrolink. Oxford Road, once served almost entirely by suburban stopping trains, now has many more longer-distance services.

The station, a Grade II listed structure, requires frequent maintenance. In 2004, the station roof was partially refurbished to prevent leaking. In 2011, the platform shelters, seats and toilets were refurbished at a cost of £500,000. In 2013, the station received a £1.8 million renovation to improve access, including lifts and an emergency exit.


The word stalactite comes from the Greek word ‘stalasso’ meaning ‘to drip’ and is possibly one of those school science lessons most people remember.

The most common stalactites occur in limestone caves. They form through deposition of calcium carbonate and other minerals, which is precipitated from mineralised water solutions. Limestone is the chief form of calcium carbonate rock which is dissolved by water that contains carbon dioxide, forming a calcium bicarbonate solution in underground caverns. This solution travels through the rock until it reaches an edge and if this is on the roof of a cave it will drip down. When the solution comes into contact with air the chemical reaction that created it is reversed and particles of calcium carbonate are deposited.

Concrete stalactites

Stalactites can also form on concrete and other man made material. The way stalactites form on concrete is due to different chemistry than those that form naturally in limestone caves and is the result of the presence of calcium oxide in concrete. This calcium oxide reacts with any rainwater that penetrates the concrete and forms a solution of calcium hydroxide. Over time this calcium hydroxide solution reaches the edge of the concrete and, if the concrete is suspended in the air, for example, in a ceiling or a beam, then this will drip down from the edge. When this happens the solution comes into contact with air and another chemical reaction takes place. The solution reacts with carbon dioxide in the air and precipitates calcium carbonate.

When this solution drops down it leaves behind particles of calcium carbonate and over time these form into a stalactite.

(thanks to Wikipedia for both the station details and some of the science)

Logging requirements

In order to log this Earthcache as a find please message me, through the link at the top of this page or via my profile page (no answers in your logs please), with the answers to the following (Happy for you to log prior to sending answers but I will delete logs where you don't send answers in a reasonable time or I think you have not visited the location):

  1. At the posted coordinates estimate the length of longest Stalactite you see here (cm or inches). Your GPS may be off due to the proximity of buildings. You should be on the West side of Great Marlborough Street, the same side as Dogbowl, either half way along the tunnel or about 2 ground level arches in from Whitworth Street - examples available at both spots
  2. Describe the stalactites ie thick/thin/smooth/rough?
  3. What gas needs to be in the water to dissolve the minerals required to form the stalactite?
  4. Given that the growth rate for stalactites is typically 0.1 to 0.2 milimetres a year when they are underground, how long do you think they have been growing there? Does this seem likely or does this suggest these objects are at a growing faster rate and why do you think this (consider about your surroundings)?
  5. What would you normally expect to find below a stalactite? Is there any evidence here and do you think they would be able to reach their full potential?
  6. Optional: post a photo of the stalactites, or a photo of you with your GPS at GZ. It can be fairly dark here so this might be difficult.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Ybbx hc

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)