snopes.com  

Go Back   snopes.com > Urban Legends > Business

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07 May 2018, 04:49 PM
Richard W's Avatar
Richard W Richard W is offline
 
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,121
Default The bizarre secret of Londonís buried diggers

I was reading about a new study on basement conversions in London, and followed a couple of links.

Deep concerns: the trouble with basement conversions (Tim Dowling, Guardian 18th August 2014)

Quote:
The mega-basements of the super-rich have even spawned their own urban myth: that many of the JCBs employed in their digging could not practically be retrieved from the bottom of the giant hole, and were simply buried.
The text links to this article from The New Statesman:

The bizarre secret of London’s buried diggers (5th June 2014)

Quote:
I've made a discovery about what is buried under the swimming pools and basement conversions of wealthy west London. This booty is worth about £5m. More revealing, however, is another fact: this £5m was tossed away like small change tipped into a busker’s hat. It is not Nazi art, or plutonium that has been used to kill the enemies of Russian oligarchs. It is a fleet of diggers.
The idea being that the mini-diggers were cheap enough that trying to get them out of the hole at the end of the excavation wasn't worth the money, and so they were simply concreted over. The article goes into a lot more detail, including estimates that there may be between 500 and 1,000 diggers buried like this.

However, from Tim Dowling's article:

Quote:
It is said that newer, deeper excavations have begun to run across them on the way down.

"We've never buried one," says Stephen Merritt, managing director of London Basement, which has completed about 1200 basement conversions since 1994. "We don't actually use the mini-excavators that often. Most of our digging is done by hand."

Ian Hogarth, an architect whose own west London basement was featured in an episode of Grand Designs, also finds the story ridiculous, although he admits that an auger from one of the piling rigs that sank his foundations is still buried under the house. "It got stuck there," he says.
So it seems this is probably not true. I know the articles are a few years old now, but this seems to be an actual new urban myth that I'd not heard before! You don't see many of those these days. (I think it's no longer economically feasible to extract them from all the fake news, or something).
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 07 May 2018, 06:08 PM
Brad from Georgia's Avatar
Brad from Georgia Brad from Georgia is offline
 
Join Date: 21 June 2000
Location: Snellvile, GA
Posts: 13,163
Default

I thought this would be about thousands of unfortunate Oompa Loompas.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07 May 2018, 06:23 PM
WildaBeast's Avatar
WildaBeast WildaBeast is offline
 
Join Date: 18 July 2002
Location: Folsom, CA
Posts: 15,516
Default

Yeah, it took me a moment to realize that "digger" was British English for an excavator or backhoe. I was picturing a Dickensian type of scenario of teams of workers with shovels employed to dig 19th century basements, and simply being left down there if they died on the job. Sort of like the myth that the bodies of workers who died in workplace accidents are buried within Hoover Dam.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07 May 2018, 06:24 PM
Richard W's Avatar
Richard W Richard W is offline
 
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,121
Default

Well, if you believe urban crime novels these days, there are probably lots of inconvenient people, often undocumented immigrant workers, buried down there as well...

(eta) And that's something else I've learned today - despite just having read a book about the "conflict" between British and American English, I had no idea that "digger" meant something different over there. Something else to complain about on the writer's blog, as well as her inaccurate statements about real ale.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07 May 2018, 06:51 PM
WildaBeast's Avatar
WildaBeast WildaBeast is offline
 
Join Date: 18 July 2002
Location: Folsom, CA
Posts: 15,516
Default

Well I don't know if it means something different, exactly, but we don't use it to mean "digging machine". Like I said most Americans would call that machine an excavator or backhoe. But I assume you also have the definition "person who digs" over there as well -- grave digger, ditch digger, etc. We just don't have the other definition. Well now that I think about it there are machines that Americans might call "diggers", but it it would typically come with another word attached, like a post-hole digger. We typically wouldn't call the machine described in the article a digger.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07 May 2018, 07:25 PM
overyonder overyonder is offline
 
Join Date: 03 March 2010
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 2,111
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
Well I don't know if it means something different, exactly, but we don't use it to mean "digging machine". Like I said most Americans would call that machine an excavator or backhoe. But I assume you also have the definition "person who digs" over there as well -- grave digger, ditch digger, etc. We just don't have the other definition. Well now that I think about it there are machines that Americans might call "diggers", but it it would typically come with another word attached, like a post-hole digger. We typically wouldn't call the machine described in the article a digger.
Excavator, trencher, steam shovel, posthole digger, etc etc etc. Many different ones out there.

I call a larger excavator as "trackhoe" (no pun intended here) but some people will occasionally raise an eyebrow. It's a southern expression I picked up in SC.

OY
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07 May 2018, 08:32 PM
ChasFink's Avatar
ChasFink ChasFink is offline
 
Join Date: 09 December 2015
Location: Mineola, NY
Posts: 830
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by overyonder View Post
Excavator, trencher, steam shovel, posthole digger, etc etc etc. Many different ones out there.
Which reminds me: does anyone else find it odd that we say steam shovel and steamroller when these things are no longer powered by steam?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07 May 2018, 09:32 PM
WildaBeast's Avatar
WildaBeast WildaBeast is offline
 
Join Date: 18 July 2002
Location: Folsom, CA
Posts: 15,516
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
despite just having read a book about the "conflict" between British and American English...
And just to be clear, the Hoover Dam has nothing to do with vacuum cleaners.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07 May 2018, 10:25 PM
Richard W's Avatar
Richard W Richard W is offline
 
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,121
Default

Are you sure? Then why did my hoover stop working last year? It was an Electrolux hoover, I think, and it must have been dammed (or damned, perhaps?) in some way. I felt less stupid when even my dad couldn't get it to work, and we had to buy a replacement.

The replacement works very well, and I was slightly surprised when I checked just now to find that it's a Hoover hoover.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 08 May 2018, 05:41 AM
Don Enrico's Avatar
Don Enrico Don Enrico is offline
 
Join Date: 05 October 2004
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Posts: 7,598
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
The idea being that the mini-diggers were cheap enough that trying to get them out of the hole at the end of the excavation wasn't worth the money, and so they were simply concreted over.
But to do that, wouldn't you have to digg an additional whole of about two meters or more to hide the digger in? And, given what can be down there, from bedrock to the tunnels of the tube, wouldn't that be more difficult and more expensive than trying to get the digger out again?

Quote:
...despite just having read a book about the "conflict" between British and American English, ...
The Prodigal Tongue by Lynne Murphy? That's what I am reading at the moment - very interesting! I wish there were a similar book about the different kinds of German (mainly that of Germany and that of Austria).
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 08 May 2018, 07:54 AM
SatansHobbit's Avatar
SatansHobbit SatansHobbit is offline
 
Join Date: 31 May 2006
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 3,768
Australia

If you consider what the word "digger" means to an Australian, the story takes a rather morbid turn.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 08 May 2018, 09:31 AM
Richard W's Avatar
Richard W Richard W is offline
 
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,121
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Enrico View Post
The Prodigal Tongue by Lynne Murphy? That's what I am reading at the moment - very interesting! I wish there were a similar book about the different kinds of German (mainly that of Germany and that of Austria).
Yes, that one - I put it in the books thread. I really liked it too. But don't believe what she says about beer - real ale is not the same thing as craft beer, and CAMRA had succeeded in reviving real ales long before the current US-influenced craft beer boom! And indeed, I suspect many CAMRA members have mixed feelings about craft beer...
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 08 May 2018, 01:40 PM
RichardM RichardM is offline
 
Join Date: 27 March 2004
Location: Las Cruces, NM
Posts: 4,416
Default

I thought I remembered a book I read when I was 3 or 4. It was about a steam shovel that dug out a basement but then couldn't get out. So the steam shovel was converted to be the boiler for the building. I looked it up and sure enough there it was - Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_M...s_Steam_Shovel
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 08 May 2018, 02:22 PM
Seaboe Muffinchucker's Avatar
Seaboe Muffinchucker Seaboe Muffinchucker is offline
 
Join Date: 30 June 2005
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 18,516
Glasses

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChasFink View Post
Which reminds me: does anyone else find it odd that we say steam shovel and steamroller when these things are no longer powered by steam?
I don't know about you, but I don't say steam shovel. I say backhoe or front loader.

I do still think of the rollers as steamrollers, though.

Seaboe
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 08 May 2018, 02:28 PM
Lainie's Avatar
Lainie Lainie is offline
 
Join Date: 29 August 2005
Location: Suburban Columbus, OH
Posts: 74,339
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardM View Post
I thought I remembered a book I read when I was 3 or 4. It was about a steam shovel that dug out a basement but then couldn't get out. So the steam shovel was converted to be the boiler for the building. I looked it up and sure enough there it was - Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_M...s_Steam_Shovel
I loved that book as a kid.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 08 May 2018, 03:36 PM
UEL's Avatar
UEL UEL is offline
 
Join Date: 01 August 2004
Location: Fredericton, Canada
Posts: 9,240
Baseball

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardM View Post
I thought I remembered a book I read when I was 3 or 4. It was about a steam shovel that dug out a basement but then couldn't get out. So the steam shovel was converted to be the boiler for the building. I looked it up and sure enough there it was - Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_M...s_Steam_Shovel
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
I loved that book as a kid.
I too loved that book. It was the first thing I thought of when I read the initial posts in this thread.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 08 May 2018, 06:30 PM
Seaboe Muffinchucker's Avatar
Seaboe Muffinchucker Seaboe Muffinchucker is offline
 
Join Date: 30 June 2005
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 18,516
Glasses

It's one of the books Captain Kangaroo read on his show. I loved they way they did those readings.

Seaboe
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 08 May 2018, 07:36 PM
Brad from Georgia's Avatar
Brad from Georgia Brad from Georgia is offline
 
Join Date: 21 June 2000
Location: Snellvile, GA
Posts: 13,163
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaboe Muffinchucker View Post
I don't know about you, but I don't say steam shovel. I say backhoe or front loader.

I do still think of the rollers as steamrollers, though.

Seaboe
We call them "chuzzwuzzlers."
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 09 May 2018, 03:39 PM
Ariadne's Avatar
Ariadne Ariadne is offline
 
Join Date: 02 March 2006
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,455
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post
I too loved that book. It was the first thing I thought of when I read the initial posts in this thread.
Me, too! I read the thread just to see if anyone mentioned it.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 09 May 2018, 04:47 PM
Crius of CoH's Avatar
Crius of CoH Crius of CoH is offline
 
Join Date: 13 February 2006
Location: Paragon City (Cranston), RI
Posts: 1,829
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
We call them "chuzzwuzzlers."
That's an odd name. I'd have called them chazzwazzers.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
The cat came back Ė five days after it was buried Sooeygun Wild Kingdom 9 30 January 2015 03:12 AM
The truth behind buried submarine legend snopes Military 0 13 February 2012 05:50 PM
The Legend of the Buried Bombers snopes Military 0 19 March 2010 06:38 PM
NC deaths can't be buried in SC snopes Legal Affairs 4 28 April 2009 10:47 PM
Pirates buried their treasure. Skeptic History 5 09 September 2007 12:44 AM


All times are GMT. The time now is 12:13 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.