.....News added on 10th July 2003.....
|In June, Williamson Tunnels enthusiasts made a concerted
attempt to find the long-lost 'Great Tunnel', presumed still to exist beneath a
retail outlet on Mason Street, adjoining the site of the underground Banqueting
|Estimating measurements and locations from the old photograph, right, of the Great Tunnel when it was still open, volunteers set about several days of deep drilling and fierce digging. In the end, they were met with an insurmountable barrier of compacted rubble and a concrete pylon supporting the modern building above. However, the opportunity was taken to search for the adjoining 'side' tunnel,|
|marked by the green arrow. A trench was dug down (the
land level is much higher today than shown in the black and white photo) and,
eventually the top of the portal was revealed. A few moments later, explorers
were able to climb down into the tunnel and found the scene
This appears to be a continuation of Williamson's 'Triple Decker' tunnel, the main stretch of which was discovered in the Stable Yard in April 2002.
The successful dig was due in no small part to the kind co-operation of the owners of the land behind and of the retail unit above. Although the Great Tunnel remains elusive for now, it is still strongly believed to be intact, albeit tightly packed with rubble and punctuated by concrete pylons. Therefore, FoWT hopes to negotiate access for another attempt to break into it, probably from a different angle, in the near future.
|The tunnels in the
There has been much media coverage of the Williamson Tunnels of late. Back in February, they were featured as a local point of interest when the BBC's Songs of Praise was filmed in Liverpool. In May, Radio Merseyside's Tony Snell broadcast an in depth report about the tunnels, recorded inside the Paddington section. Most recently, top production company Endemol spent a day filming the tunnels and interviewing FoWT people for possible inclusion in a major interactive BBC TV series to be broadcast later in the year about the restoration of historic places.
Filming in June for BBC restoration series
|Site of 'tunnels chimney'
Our friends who run the Heritage Centre, where the Stables section of the tunnels is open to the public, recently acquired a small patch of land adjoining the Old Stable Yard. This plot once played host to one of Liverpool's largest chimneys which vented Stephenson's original railway tunnel in the 1800s. The significance is the widely-held belief that the chimney used a section of Williamson's tunnels in its lower reaches. Early tidying work on the land has clearly revealed the outline of the chimney, but a major excavation project would be called for to dig down to the Williamson structures underneath.
See further information about this feature >>
The outline of the chimney built over Williamson's tunnels
|10,000th visitor to Heritage
July 2003 saw the 10,000th visitor pass through the turnstiles to visit the Stables section of the tunnels at the Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre. Since opening late last year, about a thousand people have visited the Centre each month, with figures rising as we enter the school holidays period.