Mapping the Landscape Report

Mapping The Landscape at the Dudley Canal and Tunnels Trust

Mapping the Landscape at the Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust Report



At the start of 2021 Dudley Canal and Caverns began an ambitious project to use latest digital technology and expertise to fully map its above-ground, under-ground and under-water historic environment, parts of which date back 428 million years.  Using outputs from a pilot study the Trust secured funding through a Commissioning Grant Scheme with Historic England to fully map the whole site and produce data which would help it better understand the environment, help it with its mission of preserving the whole but also provide inspiration for new activities, exhibitions and learning.

The Trust worked with specialists from Johnson, Poole and BloomerSCCS Ltd and Arup, along with its own staff and though challenging at times, requiring creative problem solving, a lot of lighting and a lot of hours, the project was a great success and brought about practical improvements immediately.

The main priority was to create a 3D point cloud and to achieve this feat, it required 3 different Leica Geosystems high-definition scanners, total station, RTK GNSS (all supplied by SCCS Ltd), a survey pole, some reflectors, one tripod, two survey pillars, a square adjustable prop, a geomatics surveyor, a team of enthusiastic trust members who had never experienced this technology before all working from the oldest boat in the Trust’s fleet.

That said this unusual methodology managed to create a holistic, georeferenced, colourised point cloud of over 18 billion individual points that will forever change the way in which the environment at the Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust can viewed, analysed, and interpreted for current and future generations.

As part of the outputs the information is to be shared and so elements of the data has been given to Dudley Museum and Archives which specialists and the public can access and we are also working with  VEESUS to store the data for access as well as looking at new and innovative ways of using it, creatively and operationally.

It is our great privilege to be able to share with you part of the unseen world beneath your feet within the fascinating Dudley landscape that we are proud custodians of.



As per our application there were a number of milestones and outputs we wanted to get out of the project

  • 3d scan of system to include georeferenced control points, fixed and hand held scanning.
  • Terrestrial static scan of Portal Building, Car Park, and Dudley No1 Canal at 5 -10 mm resolution.
  • Castle & Shirts Mill Basin – terrestrial static scan at 5 -10mm resolution.
  • Hurst Cavern – terrestrial scan using fixed point targets at 5 -10mm resolution.
  • Little Tess Cavern – terrestrial scan using fixed point targets at 5 -10mm resolution.
  • Singing Cavern – Lower and upper gallery scans – 5 -10mm, using fixed point scanners and an approach around pillar 3 yet to be confirmed.
  • Tunnels – hand held scanner at 25 -50mm resolution.
  • Nature reserve topography – hand held scan 25 -50mm resolution.
  • Rendering of data – spatial information and creating colourised point cloud. Creation of a closed mesh texturized point cloud with ability to use information on a range of platforms.
  • FE data rendering by Arup’s with stress test modelling on pillar 3.
  • Future monitoring approach – review and analysis report.
  • Information shared through DMBC archives and “sketchfab.”
  • Digital demonstration and interpretation media to be added to Biffa Gallery.
  • Graphics and visual exhibition materials for display.
  • Large scale 3d casts of fossils found in the system added to Kettle Mine as part of a new fossil wall display.
  • Visual media to provide potential retail products.
  • Online exhibition added to DCTT Website.
  • Impact report to be shared widely with stakeholders and specialist interest groups.
  • Lecture.

Though the Trust were able to achieve most of their outputs, the under water scanning proved difficult. They are however working with SCCS to look at new equipment and processes which are coming to market and will revisit this part of the project in the future.

They are already using the data to help them better understand the environment and its behaviour, especially in terms of changes in weather and atmospheric conditions. The accuracy and detail of the data allows them to be more thorough in their inspections and monitoring as the scans gives them clear evidence of changes and movement in areas.

One of the biggest achievements in the project was finally tying the above ground location with the underground location, something which has caused a lot of confusion and debate over the years.  This allows them to better monitor works and developments, watch for encroachment and changes in the surface.

They are also looking at incorporating AR and VR technology into its offer and so are looking at funding which will allows them to explore this further, particularly in terms of seeing what cannot be seen, using the data to recreate part of the caverns and its history which is no longer accessible or visible.

Reports also show how the staff benefitted from being involved, not just learning more about digital technology but being part of creating ways to use it to improve their own roles and the visitor engagement and offer.

Feedback from data specialists and users show the quality of the work produced by Johnson Poole and Bloomer was exceptional, well thought out and executed.

digital scan of dudley tunnel
3d scan of tunnel opening and boats from above