Early views of the tunnels

We hope that everyone is coping with staying at home during these hard and very strange times. As the Tunnels are currently closed, we don’t have any updates or real news to report, so let’s have a look back at some views of the Tunnels in those early days, long before we started our Big Dig.

Paddington was our first Big Dig, the chambers being last explored around 1925 before being filled in, sealed up and forgotten about. That was until 1999, when FoWT rediscovered this fascinating set of what would turn out to be the staggering cathedral like chambers, that they are today. It took 4 years for our team of dedicated and hard-working volunteers to empty these chambers of approximately 1500 tons of infill, using 159 skips, all completely by hand.

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Mile Tunnel when full of rubble
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The infill in Level 2 lit by candles
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The infill in Level 2 lit by candles

Little did we know that these filled chambers in Paddington would eventually extend down to 60ft below street level. The photos were taken just days after their rediscovery. See just how close the infill was to the brick arched roof, this infill was to be removed during our Epic Big Dig…

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The wonderful multi Arch with the late Steve Moran
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Arch in Level 3 looking toward what is now Level 4, the amazing cathedral like chamber
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Arch in Level 3 looking toward what is now Level 4

This impressively constructed Sandstone Arch with its precisely carved blocks of stone. To access here and beyond used to involve descending a long ladder, through a man hole on the surface. Fall arrest harnesses where in use when ascending or descending this ladder for safety.

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The Sandstone Arch
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Les haviong come out of the Gash into the Sandstone Arch

The Wine Bins with its nice Elliptical Arch. The Bins themselves and the Bishops Mitre Arch, with some nice hidden features that we were yet to discover.

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Wine Bins

The Banqueting Hall and Gash are located under Joseph Williamson’s House Site on Mason Street. Who remembers the “Ski Slope” at the far end? This steep slope of infill was definitely worth the climb to the top for the amazing view. Little did we know that our digging was to reveal a trench as you exit the Gash, meaning that another climb was necessary to access the Banqueting Hall. We would also be surprised that in this trench in the Banqueting Hall, we would find an entrance into a large chamber alongside. Amazing

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Inside the Banqueting Hall, with the Gash and Gothic Arch
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Inside the Banqueting Hall, looking towards the ski slope
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The view from the top of the ski slope. note the dumped metal garage rubbish as well as infill
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Inside the Gash, looking towards the Banqueting Hall

Take Care, Keep Safe and Well

Members meetings 2020 – Important Announcement

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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.

Under Grads go Underground!

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We were delighted when Dr Kerry Traynor asked us to assist  Final Year Media students from the Department of Communication and Media, University of Liverpool . Of course we were most happy to oblige. The student’s were split into 6 groups, each group would make a seperate video about the Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels and of course the Tunnels.

So after lots of planning, the students visited and filmed within the Tunnels and interviewed several of the volunteers.

Then, off the students went to work their magic, and work their magic they did! I think you will agree that the students did a absolutely fantastic job of portraying the Tunnels and the work that FoWT have done over the years.

FoWT, wish to thank Kerry and all the students, for producing these FAB videos.

You can watch all 6 video’s here.

Enjoy…

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Video 5

Video 6

You can have a look at the Media Pool YouTube Channel to see the work done by the students.

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

New Tunnel update…

You will no doubt have read that we recently discovered a new rock cut tunnel within the Banqueting Hall. This small tunnel leads from the trench in the Banqueting Hall floor, through the bedrock wall and into yet another chamber. We have long suspected that there could be another chamber or passage alongside the Banqueting Hall. So the discovery of this was very exciting indeed. Joseph Williamson’s long lost subterranean World continues giving up its secrets.

The rock cut tunnel is around 3ft deep, extending into the bedrock wall of the Banqueting Hall. We have managed to get just inside this chamber, though we were initially asked not to dig the infill out from within the chamber until it was established that the brick built arched roof was complete and of course safe. We are delighted to report that we have completed the required method statement and risk assessments to enable us to dig out the infill in a safe and controlled manner so that the arched roof can be examined for safety. Once we know that the roof is complete and safe, we will of course aim to empty the chamber.

However, first impression suggests that the arch is intact and safe. We sent a GoPro camera up to the top of the roof on a long pole to get a good look at the roof and to our surprise, there is yet another nice sandstone arched tunnel as can be seen in the video.

So where might this arch take us? Well we would like to think it will take us to the long lost Great Tunnel. It is possible, given this chamber’s depth of approximately 37ft below ground level. Time will tell…

It will take us quite a while to empty the infill from inside, giving us full access to the chamber. Though we will of course update you with news on this dig as and when we have it. So stay tuned to Twitter, Facebook and of course right here for updates.