JJ's ''Going Underground''

Jukebox Jury

Retired
I'm just about to do something I have wanted to do for around 15 years:eek:

There are ''secret'' tunnels underneath Manchester - the council try to deny them (though a recent book makes that a little difficult:lbf:) and tours down there are rare or simply just hush hush events.
I have finally managed to bag myself a place on such a tour tonight...... just setting off now, torch in hand.
So if you see a few people in the city centre tonight around 7pm climbing shiftily down a manhole cover......:thumb:

If I'm not reporting back on here by midnight, someone tell my kids I'm in a sewer somewhere under the city centre:squiffy:

Jukebox Jury
 

lainey

Active Member
http://www.williamsontunnels.co.uk/
Tycoon Joseph Williamson dug a vast, bizarre network of tunnels under Liverpool almost 200 years ago. Were they the city's first job creation scheme, a rich man's whimsy or a shelter from the end of the world?

They have been the stuff of Merseyside legend for decades but the truth is stranger than any fireside story.
Now with the opening of a section of tunnels, the public can for the first time gain access to the underground kingdom of Joseph Williamson, tobacco magnate, philanthropist, recluse and "mad mole".


Gothic arches

The portal to this subterranean realm is almost mundane: a wide, arching tunnel, looking rather like a French wine cellar, hewn out of sandstone and partly lined with brick.
But there is an eerie drip, drip of unseen water ahead and lights pick out gothic arches in the distance, giving the whole place something of a church crypt atmosphere


Between 1805 and his death in 1840, Williamson employed thousands of men digging out a network underneath land that he owned in Edge Hill.


It seems to have started logically enough - a few cellars and ground level arches behind the mansions that he was building so that the back gardens could be extended despite the sloping terrain.
But while these constructions had a purpose, the next are a puzzle.
Williamson set his gangs of men burrowing in all directions but most of the tunnels lead nowhere. Some just come to an abrupt halt, others intersect another part of the labyrinth. There are even tunnels within tunnels.

Maze

One of these double-decker tunnels makes a spectacular feature at the section of the network newly opened to the public.
The tunnels were hacked out by hand - as the pickaxe marks reveal.
According to the site's Heritage Manager, Lynn Podmore, there are even more unusual constructions to be explored.

We still don't know where each one leads, and we are finding new tunnels all the time," she says.
"There is a triple-decker tunnel under the carpark here and a completely different section has just been found up the road."

Back within the barrel-shaped chamber, the tunnel twists, turns, narrows and changes level.
Smaller tunnels and chimneys head off into the darkness.
Mapping the maze has not been easy. Williamson was notoriously secretive about his creation and no contemporary plan of the whole network survives.

Philanthropy

The lack of documentary evidence has prompted endless speculation about why the tunnels were built.
One popular theory is that he was pricked by social conscience.
In the early 19th century, men who had been fighting the Napoleonic wars were flooding back to Britain - and were in need of jobs.

Williamson, it is said, responded to the poverty around him by creating work, whether it really needed doing or not.
Another story puts the tycoon as a member of an extreme religious sect that believed that Armageddon was on the way.

The tunnels therefore were a place of sanctuary for Williamson and for fellow believers to flee to and emerge from to start a new city once God had wreaked his vengeance on the world.

A more prosaic image is of a man obsessed by his project, who, when his wife died in 1822, withdrew ever deeper into his subterranean empire, even building living rooms and a banqueting hall down there.
 

lainey

Active Member
I can't wait to see you footage JJ. Why are Manchester council kepping it a secret? health and safety?

I rememner the story of a fella who used the tunnels to meet up with local women by climbing into their cellers. It was only dicscovered at his funeral when quite alot of female mourners turned up.
 

Daddy Cool

Dodgy Fool-san
Won't be the first smelly hole you've explored under the cover of darkness, if this man is to be believed.
oldest_male_stripper-gallery-2.jpg
 
Theres apparently a tunnel running under blackburn, my grandads brother claimed he sailed down the tunnel in a boat
 

Jukebox Jury

Retired
I'm back!!!
Was good....they took us down a different place (sighted H&S:rolleyes:) than expected (though they didn't tell us which one that was to be!) so we went into the (not so secret, but still difficult to get into) 'Bridgewater Tunnel' under G-Mex and Granada studios.
This tunnel was built as a canal to allow barges to go from The Irwell where Granada is, right to the Rochdale canal behind The Bridgewater Hall.
It became disused early 1900's and then drained and used as an air raid shelter in WW2. Air raid notices were still visable and the specially built blocks of toilets were still there too - minus the toilets!
Fascinating stuff:guitar: About 30 of us on the tour. proper entrance too, no man hole covers or back passages to navigate:eek:
But still unaccessable to the general public as you have to enter via a business premises and obviously only on these infrequantly arranged tours.

lainey, the council are fed up of people asking them about the tunnels and just dont respond as they'd rather people didnt know about them and in some tunnels, they have a lot of stuff stashed away down there.
If they only opened small sections, they'd be a huge tourist attraction and of extreme educational value too and would bring in revenue. But they'd rather have the big wheel like every other city has:rolleyes:

Jukebox Jury
 
Last edited:
I'm back!!!
Was good....they took us down a different place (sighted H&S:rolleyes:) than expected (though they didn't tell us which one that was to be!) so we went into the (not so secret, but still difficult to get into) 'Bridgewater Tunnel' under G-Mex and Granada studios.
This tunnel was built as a canal to allow barges to go from The Irwell where Granada is, right to the Rochdale canal behind The Bridgewater Hall.
It became disused early 1900's and then drained and used as an air raid shelter in WW2. Notices were still visable and the specially built blocks of toilets were still there.
Fascinating stuff:guitar: About 30 of us on the tour. proper entrance too, no man hole covers or back passages to navigate:eek:
But still unaccessable to the general public as you have to enter via a business premises and obviously only on these infrequantly arranged tours.

lainey, the council are fed up of people asking them about the tunnels and just dont respond as they'd rather people didnt know about them and in some cases have a lot of stuff stashed away down there.
If opened they'd be a huge tourist attraction and would bring in revenue. But they'd rather the big wheel like every other city has:rolleyes:

Jukebox Jury

Brilliant stuff JJ, was it dark and dingy or is it a 'proffesional' set up for what it is i.e. lighting? How do you get on such a tour aswell?
 

Jukebox Jury

Retired
Brilliant stuff JJ, was it dark and dingy or is it a 'proffesional' set up for what it is i.e. lighting? How do you get on such a tour aswell?

The stairway and entrance were lit (H&S:thumb:) but once in the tunnel it was torches all the way. We turned them off for a few minutes......all gave a 5 second scream...... then silence and pitch black:guitar:

getting on it was just word of mouth / email. Someone found out and told his mate...who knew I would be well interested too and told me..... etc;)

Jukebox Jury
 
Fantastic that JJ
 

nightingale+therose

...brush me daddy-o
The stairway and entrance were lit (H&S:thumb:) but once in the tunnel it was torches all the way. We turned them off for a few minutes......all gave a 5 second scream...... then silence and pitch black:guitar:

getting on it was just word of mouth / email. Someone found out and told his mate...who knew I would be well interested too and told me..... etc;)

Jukebox Jury

Holy F^ck that sounds scary!

.
 
Have the rats not found their way down there yet?
 
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