A new Journey of a Bucket

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Several years ago, we made our Journey of a Bucket video. In it, we filmed the progress of one of our hundreds of buckets, from being filled down in the depths of Paddington’s Level 4 through its journey to the skip.

We decided to do a similar video but this time in the Subterranean chambers of Joseph Williamson’s House. This time, we filmed how we are currently getting our buckets of infill out from the Magnet Chamber, into the Banqueting Hall and then up to the surface.

You can watch both the original and new Journey of a Bucket video’s here.



We hope you enjoyed both of these videos, you can see even more of our videos on the Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels YouTube Channel

 

 

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

FoWT win yet another award…

Wow, you wait years for an award then 2 come along at once! Following our amazing award last week, we were delighted to be notified today that we had received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

“We’re pleased to announce that Williamson’s Tunnels – Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels has been recognised with a 2019 Certificate of Excellence, based on the consistently great reviews you’ve earned on the world’s largest travel site.”

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This is actually our second certificate off TripAdvisor, having already received the same in 2018

This of course is wonderful news, however we could not have done it without the support and hard work of our volunteers and of course the wonderful feedback from our visitors.

New Tunnel – Latest News…

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You have probably already read about our new discovery within the trench in the floor of the Banqueting Hall. This find is a short rock cut tunnel leading into another previously undiscovered chamber alongside the Banqueting Hall. We have always suspected that this chamber or passage existed from Army surveys of the Tunnels. There has been a lot of interest in the last few weeks with people asking how we are progressing within this new chamber.

Well, so far we have done very little inside the chamber. We started preparation work, which included completing the required risk assessments and method statements that would enable us to commence work on our new find.

With this paperwork now completed and accepted by LCC, we widened the entrance to the new Chamber by chipping away bricks from the extremely large buttress that blocks the way in. This allowed us to clear the area immediately inside the entrance, making room to build a scaffold structure, designed to give our diggers protection within the chamber as agreed in the method of working, submitted to LCC.

But before we could build this, we needed scaffold, So an appeal was put out on both our Social Media accounts, Twitter and Facebook. There was a great response, with lots of people sharing the posts, meaning word getting around quickly.

Thankfully the appeal worked, and as a result we were contacted by Morgan Sindall Ltd who put us in touch with their Scaffold Supplier, Cheshire Scaffolding Ltd. We are very grateful to Morgan Sindall and Cheshire Scaffolding for agreeing to help us out by not only donating the scaffolding that we need, (and some extra too), but for also delivering it to us.

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With this donated scaffold, we have now been able to construct the required structure within the chamber, which can be seen in the photos below. This structure is a protection cage, which will protect us from any infill slides or collapses whilst we survey the structure for safety.

We always suspected from the army plans, that there would be a long tunnel or passage running alongside the Banqueting Hall, and perhaps even longer, running from Mason Street towards, and hopefully leading into the Great Tunnel. The first impressions from our excavations seem to bear that out. What we first thought was a short chamber, about nine feet long, with a brick-arched roof, now seems to be a section of tunnel between two massive brick-built buttresses. We have reason to believe from plans in our possession, that these were supports for the floor of the drill hall which the army built on the Magnet site. These buttresses were built up through the tunnel, and we have now discovered a third one beyond the stone arch. We have revealed enough of the structure to see that the brick-arched roof springs from solid bedrock on both sides. It measures about 4.5 metres across, which is about the same width as the wider section of the Banqueting Hall, and from our point of entry, it stands over 5 metres high. The entry hole into the new tunnel, at the deepest point in the Banqueting Hall, is about 12 metres below ground level, but we also know from probing the spoil, that it goes deeper still. How much deeper, we cannot tell yet. The most important thing is that our investigations so far, appear to show that the army plans have been accurate. If they continue to be proved right, then this new tunnel may lead us in a westerly direction to join up with the Great Tunnel, which has eluded us for so long, perhaps because we were never able to dig low enough before. In the other direction, back towards Mason Street, it may join up with the suspected tunnel running under the street towards Paddington.

This is a very important find for FoWT, with not only the chamber alongside the Banqueting Hall but also the lovely Sandstone Arch, at the back of the new Chamber. We have not seen an arch quite like this one before, with its beautifully carved stones with chamfered edges. We hope that in the not too distant future, this arch and tunnel will lead us towards, or maybe even into the Great Tunnel.

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Tom in the entrance, showing the brick buttress…

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View through entrance looking up into the chamber and the protective structure…

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The scaffold structure, with the entrance behind Tom…

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The scaffold structure showing the multi levels within…

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The new arch from just within…

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A panorama of four photos to show the chamber and arch

Special Thanks from all the members and volunteers of FoWT to:

Morgan Sindall

Cheshire Scafolds

Booking a tour with FoWT

We have been receiving a growing number of glowing reviews on Trip Advisor from visitors. Thanks to all those wonderful reviews, we have made the Top Spot, No 1 of “Places to visit in Liverpool”. This has resulted in being awarded a certificate of excelence. Now Even more importantly, is our amazing Liverpool Tourism Award 2019 

As you can imagine, this has created quite a demand for visits, well beyond the numbers we have been used to in the past. We have been getting visitors from not only Liverpool, but from much further afield in the UK and amazingly abroad too. we are becoming a truly International phenomenon.

Head to our “Visit the Tunnels” page to book your tour on-line.

Whether you are a Non-member wishing to visit our amazing Cathedral like Paddington site.

Looking down into the amazing Cathedral like Chamber in Paddington

Or,

If you are a Member, or would like to become a member of FoWT, you can continue to do the Extended tour of the Tunnels. This includes in addition to Paddington, Joseph Williamson’s house, with its newly exposed Kitchen and surprising features, as well as its subterranean secrets below. These include the Wine Bins, the Sandstone Arch, the Gash and the famous Banqueting Hall.

This amazing View down into the nearly empty Banqueting Hall

You will find information on becoming a member on our web site Membership page or you can download our leaflet here.

One thing that hasn’t changed though: tours of our Paddington Site are still Free, whilst Members can visit as often as they like, in the year of their membership, also Free of Charge.

We do, however, welcome donations to enable our team of dedicated volunteers to continue their vital work in saving this important piece of Liverpool’s History & Heritage.