Mysterious Blue Plaque appears at Williamson’s house

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Wiliamson’s house front, with the mystery Plaque

A very strange thing has happened. On opening the Mason Street gate onto the house site for the first dig of 2020, we received quite a shock.

Up on the wall of Joseph Williamson’s house façade is a new blue plaque, not one of the official English Heritage Plaques, but never the less a nice blue oval plaque with details about the house front and FoWT.

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The mystery Plaque

The mystery is, we have no idea who created or even fitted the plaque. The plaque appeared sometime during the Christmas & New Year break. Of course, we are delighted to see it in place and would love to know who put it there, we send our thanks to that anonymous, mystery person.

Members meetings 2020 – Important Announcement

Members-Visits-image-IMPORTANT-ANNOUNCEMET

A few weeks ago, we announced that we had changed the location of our monthly members meetings to give easier access for our members attending our meetings.

We agreed with the owners of Grand Central Hall on Renshaw Street, Liverpool to hold our meetings in Bar Racine. Sadly, we have been contacted by the owners, just over a week before the first meeting, with the news that they had sold Bar Racine and that we can no longer hold our meetings there.

This is devastating news, which leaves us more than a little panicked to get a meeting location confirmed.

In the interim, we have arranged for the February and March meeting to be in the The Quaker Meeting House, 22 School Ln, Liverpool L1 3BT. See the location map of the Quaker Meeting House

We are urgently seeking a replacement venue for our meetings, so please watch this space for news on future meetings.

The Trustees and volunteers apologise for unavoidable problem.

Ron Buckley – The passing of a true friend

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Ron in our stall at Woodvale Rally.

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Ron Buckley, a true friend and supporter of FoWT and the Williamson’s Tunnels. Ron and his wife, Lil were our First Aid experts and were always on hand should we need help at events, such as Woodvale Rally, visit days and just normal digging days.

Ron will be sadly missed by all that knew him, he was a lovely man, always quick with a kind remark or a joke. All at FoWT send their sincere condolences to Ron’s family and Friends.

Ron’s funeral will take place at Anfield Crematorium at 11.20 on Thursday 19th Dec 2019, all our welcome to pay their respect to this great man.

RIP Ron

Map of the Tunnels, latest update (Sept 2019)

Edge Hill Tunnels Map - Sept 2019
Joseph Williamson’s Tunnels – The known & Suspected Tunnels in Edge Hill (updated Sept 2019) To view the map at full size, click on the image

Since FoWT first produced their map of the tunnels, back in Feb 2016, it has been constantly evolving as we continue our research and progress with our digging and clearing of Joseph Williamson’s subterranean world. This map has been well referenced by many organisation and individuals alike since its creation.

The latest September 2019 update, includes several accuracy updates and tweaks to existing tunnels, as well as not one but two new tunnels recently discovered.

The first new tunnel found is located on the former Mr. Kassim’ land at the back of Williamson’s house site. The Tunnel was found by the developers whilst surveying for tunnel locations. The arch looked be complete, being aprox 6 metres below ground and being between 7 and 9 metres wide. We do not yet have access to this yet, we hope that we will be able to in the coming months.

The second new tunnel was found by us, under the former Merseyflex Land. We had been given permission to have a dig by Liverpool City Council using a JCB, you can read about this discovery here. Finding this tunnel has helped to show the accuracy of the army survey and our map too.

You can view this latest map update at full size by clicking on the image, or you can head to our map web page,  here.

Major New Tunnel Discovered

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The New Tunnel beneath the Former Merseyflex site. Alisdair, Robin and Tom exploring.

Look on our map of the Williamson’s Tunnels and you see that some tunnels are shown in orange. These Tunnels were surveyed by the Army in 1882 and 1907. So, we have always had a fair bit of confidence that these tunnels will be where the Army say they are.

Beneath the land where Merseyflex used to be, there are some of those tunnels mapped by the Army. Merseyflex has now relocated, and the building has been demolished, so we are grateful to Liverpool City Council for allowing us to have a dig in order to find the tunnels beneath the land.

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The New Tunnel beneath the Former Merseyflex site. Alisdair, Robin and Tom exploring.

We decided to rent a JCB and Driver for the week, so on Mon 16th Sept 2019 the JCB arrived on site.

We planned a similar dig on Merseyflex as we done on the Magnet’s Site a few years ago. Digging down to find clues and features from Williamson’s day. We immediately found the cellar that would have been beneath the original Williamson built house that once stood here. Revealing nice floor tiles, windows and doorways. We even unearthed the arch that headed out under Mason Street, towards the Williamson properties over the road. Sadly, this tunnel is just below the road surface and has been collapsed just a foot or so inside.

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The New Tunnel beneath the Former Merseyflex site. Robin and Tom exploring.

On day 2 of our dig, we turned the digging through 90° heading slightly towards Williamson’s House, at first, we didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, more openings, and even another arch passage. But then Robin, one of our volunteers noticed that a large floor slab was moving as the JCB bucket touched it. So, it was decided to lift that slab with the JCB to see if anything was being hidden. And what did we see…

There beneath the slab was a hole in the arch, just like we have found in Paddington and the Banqueting Hall. These holes were made in the arch to allow the chambers to be easily filled with the tons of rubble after Joseph Williamson’s death.

On finding this, we needed to make the site safe, before we could go down to take a look. Amazingly, what we found was an impressively large and complete Arched chamber.

I remember the feeling of excitement, being very much the same when we found Paddington. The thrill of being the first people to get into the tunnel in probably well over 100 years.

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The New Tunnel beneath the Former Merseyflex site.

The tunnel has a lovely design as can be seen in the photographs with the Arch being formed of lines of alternate brick and sandstone. The Arch is approx. 4 meters down below ground level and is 13.3 meters long. Width is a little harder for us to measure, as you can see there is a lot of infill and the Springing of the Arch is not visible, meaning we are not seeing the full width of the Tunnel. But we feel that it will be at least 6 to 7 meters or even more wide. We do not know how deep this tunnel will be either, we suspect it could be a deep one…

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The New Tunnel beneath the Former Merseyflex site.

This is a great find for the Friends, and helps to confirm the accuracy of our map of Tunnels. In the short term, we will need to reseal the tunnel but in the long term we will be seeking the permission to reopen this tunnel permanently and to maybe set about emptying it too.

What will we find next?

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The New Tunnel beneath the Former Merseyflex site.
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The New Tunnel beneath the Former Merseyflex site.
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The New Tunnel beneath the Former Merseyflex site.
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The New Tunnel beneath the Former Merseyflex site.
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The New Tunnel beneath the Former Merseyflex site.


Updated (Sat 05/10/2019)

We were delighted that a few days later, the Liverpool Echo covered FoWT’s news of our big find on Page 3.

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Liverpool Echo, page 3. Tuesday 1st October 2019

Liverpool Echo online: New images reveal cavernous new chamber discovered at Williamson’s Tunnels