Engineers are set to start work at a cemetery in Bradford after a mineshaft dating back hundreds of years was found to be running under a path.

It was discovered in Idle Upper Chapel Cemetery in Westfield Lane when investigation work was carried out on a nearby field as part of plans to extend the graveyard.

Church secretary Graham Carter said plans had indicated there could be a mineshaft in the area, but it was thought to be in an adjacent field.

He said: “During the recent process of applying for planning permission to extend the church cemetery we found several maps dating back to the 1800s that suggested there was a possibility of a disused mineshaft being in the area of the extension.

“However, when specialist consultants were appointed by the church to examine the site they found that the shaft was in fact in the current cemetery, not in the area indicated on the plans.”

Engineers have now been called in to secure the mineshaft and protect the cemetery’s pathway. The mineshaft will be capped below the ground surface by the insertion of a reinforcing mesh and then the shaft will be backfilled. The work will make the shaft safe for the long-term.

While the work is carried out access to graves in the area will be restricted but Mr Carter said the graves would not be disturbed by the work.

Mr Carter said: “Unfortunately, due to the age of the graves in the area concerned it has not been possible to contact the owners.

“However we would like to reassure people that the graves will not be disturbed by the work to secure the mineshaft, although it will be necessary to temporarily remove some of the headstones.

“They will be carefully stored while the work is taking place and then put back in place once the work is complete.

“All work to the headstones will be carried out by a professional stonemason and will be paid for by the church.”

The work is expected to begin within the next month and will take about a week.

Anyone with concerns or needing more information can contact Mr Carter on (01274) 615482.