PICS: Remember the Mansfield man buried alive for five months

Geoff, in his coffin.
Geoff, in his coffin.

REMEMBER: Almost 20 years ago, Mansfield's 'Human Mole' captured headlines as he was buried alive for 142 days came back out of the ground.

Geoff Smith had taken on the challenge of breaking the world record for longest time buried alive in a wooden box.

Geoff was confined to a 7ft wooden box with a television and family photos to make him feel at home.

Geoff was confined to a 7ft wooden box with a television and family photos to make him feel at home.

Geoff beat the European record set by his own mother of 101 days, and then went on to bust the American record of 141 days below the surface

He went into the box in the beer garden of the Railway Inn on 29 August 29 1998, undertaking self-inflicted solitary confinement akin to being thrown in the brig, and stayed down there in his 7ft-long box, submerged in the ground although not covered in earth, until January 18, 1999.

Geoff had only a television, mobile phone, books and family photos to keep him busy, and was passed food and drinks down a ventilation shaft, through which supporters also spoke to him and kept him company.

Since the feat was remembered on BBC Radio Nottingham yesterday (March 6), Geoff has reminisced about his time underground.

After his first day, Geoff almost faltered and pressed the panic button but his friends kept him going - he went on to break the world record unofficially.

After his first day, Geoff almost faltered and pressed the panic button but his friends kept him going - he went on to break the world record unofficially.

Now a granddad of four, the former factory supervisor lives on Princes Street told the Chad:

My mum did it in 1997 and then this American got it, and I had local media saying "why don't you try and get the record for your mum. I was sort of roped into it. I thought it was a crazy idea, but I would give it a go.

The first night was the hardest, said Geoff.

"I nearly faltered and thought I couldn't do it. It had a been a busy day and then I was on my own and it was quiet. It got red hot down there and I pressed the panic button. My friend came out and talked to me all night. The next day they gave me a fan and it was much easier.

A ventilation shaft kept him in contact with the outside world and allowed the lowering of food and drink.

A ventilation shaft kept him in contact with the outside world and allowed the lowering of food and drink.

"After that it wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be, I always had people coming to visit and the Chad came and the local news, so I had a lot of company."

Geoff spent his days reading books and watching TV. "I just watched match of the day mainly - I'm a big Stags fan," he said.

The national news covered the story as he celebrated Christmas down in the box with roast supper lowered down to him, and a miniature Christmas tree by his side, and when he was released in January one of the first things he said was 'I want a bath'.

The feat made him into a local celebrity but at great cost as five months in a box put strain on his relationship with then girlfriend, Kerry.

Almost 20 years ago, Mansfield man Geoff Smith spent five months down a hole, in a box. he remembers his strange feat.

Almost 20 years ago, Mansfield man Geoff Smith spent five months down a hole, in a box. he remembers his strange feat.

"I had been going out with this girl and we actually split up. It was the stress of what I was doing. But then five years ago, after 15 years apart, we got back in touch."

Now he and Kerry Smith, 37, are married, and celebrated at the Stags' ground.

Since then he has become a grandfather and people still stop him in the street remembered their local hero, the 'Human Mole'.

But he wouldn't ever undertake the confinement again, if he could avoid it.

"I wouldn't recommend it to anyone," he said. "But if someone tries to beat my record...

"There was a guy from Ireland who wanted to do it, so I told him I would challenge him side by side to who could do it the longest, and he pulled out in the end."

Geoff was brought Christmas Dinner, by the Sun newspaper.

Geoff was brought Christmas Dinner, by the Sun newspaper.

The Guinness Book of Records did not recognise the feat, because it didn't want to encourage dangerous stunts.

After the world record feat initially split them up, Geoff and Kerry got back together five years ago, and they celebrated their wedding at the Stags' ground.

After the world record feat initially split them up, Geoff and Kerry got back together five years ago, and they celebrated their wedding at the Stags' ground.