In case you missed it… Vast ‘Labyrinth’ of Tunnels under Liverpool Unearthed

Volunteers in Liverpool are giving up their time to clear out a mysterious labyrinth of tunnels that, surrounded by a frenzy of local hearsay and conjecture, lurk beneath the city’s Edge Hill area.

The tunnels have been the subject of various outlandish theories over their origins, including elaborate philanthropy and, rather more sinisterly, religious extremism and the occult.

The time has come to finally peel back the veil of mystery and the ‘Friends of the Williamson Tunnels’ volunteers have begun to remove the results of decades of Victorian “fly-tipping”; hoping one day to expose passageways which they believe could stretch for miles under Liverpool.

The tunnels were built and conceived in the early 1800s by businessman Joseph Williamson, who paid soldiers returning from the Napoleonic war to construct them. Incredibly, no records were kept of how far they stretch, nor which direction they go in.

Williamson died in 1840, leaving the tunnels to fall into disrepair. A local bakery filled one section with ash and debris over a period of 100 years, a blockage which is only now being excavated and revealing its secrets.

The volunteers are not the only ones seeking to uncover the mystery of the tunnels. Gerry Lucas and David Bridson from Liverpool University’s Natural Geographical and Applied Sciences Department seek to claim they were actually examples of Georgian and early Victorian quarry restoration.

Gerry is reported to have said:

“We suggest that the tunnels were wildcat sandstone slot quarries providing dimension stone for some of the grand buildings of the expanding and rich mercantile Liverpool and that Williamson saw an opportunity to develop land on the hill by building a system of arches that covered the slots and then provided the foundation for urban housing. In effect, his business acumen produced one of the earliest and most profitable forms of quarry restorations.”

We look forward to more discoveries over the next few months as the excavations progress.

 11/03/13                                                                                                             SRJ/LCB

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