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Report - Ramsgate Rail Tunnel/part 1 of WW2 deep shelter network. January 2012.

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by gadgeturbex, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. gadgeturbex

    gadgeturbex 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Nov 16, 2011
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    Hello and welcome inside! Firsty I'm aware there are existing reports on these tunnels,but I feel it wouldn't hurt to do another,plus I can get my first report out there for a grilling so here goes!

    This 1,124-yard (1,028 m) tunnel was opened in October 1863 by The London, Chatham and Dover Railway,who were one of two rival rail companies operating at the time,the other being South eastern Railway.


    Leading from Broadstairs,the track would enter the tunnel at Dumpton Park and continue underground to Ramsgate seafront where it emerged directly opposite the beach. There was only a single track running through the tunnel so a small turntable took care of turning the trains around and sending them back up to Dumpton. Thomas the tank style :)


    Fast forward to 1926,the railway tunnel was sealed and abandoned after the two rival rail firms amalgamated to form Southern Rail. Reason for the closer was the fact that Ramsgates population had almost doubled but the tunnel had no overhead for expansion,plus the ongoing risk of a run-away train ploughing onto the beach which happened before on 3rd August 1891. The seafront station was then sold to Thanet Amusements who used the land for a zoo and funfair called Merrie England.

    7 years on,Merrie England was now booming under the ownership of Ramsgate Olympia. Ramsgate Olympia began to lobby the Southern Railway to reopen the line through the tunnel, with a new junction station between Dumpton Park and Broadstairs.However, the Southern Railway rejected the proposal as it was too costly and impractical. Ramsgate Olympia and the Southern Railway were keen to make the attractions near the harbour accessible from the railway main line and to provide a service from the seafront to the greyhound stadium at Dumpton Park. The two companies eventually agreed on a scheme by which a new line would use the 780 yards (710 m) of the tunnel nearest the beach, before branching off into a new 364-yard (333 m) tunnel to emerge at a new station at Hereson Road, a 250-yard (230 m) walk from Dumpton Park station. Ramsgate Olympia planned the construction of a large-scale housing estate, charabanc parking facilities, and a 10,000-seat stadium at Dumpton Park to increase passenger numbers and encourage people to use the new rail line.
    Construction work began on 2 May 1936. The company hoped to have the line open in time to serve the large crowds expected on the August Bank Holiday, leading to a very tight construction deadline of three months. To try to meet the deadline, construction work was carried out both day and night. As the journey would take place entirely underground it was decided to line the wider, original tunnel with illuminated displays showing scenes from around the world. This led to the line becoming semi-officially known as the "World Scenic Railway"!

    This is looking up the narrow guage scenic railway,only a couple of sleepers remain as the rest were used by the RH&D railway,as were the rails.


    This is what the Dumpton entrance looks like now,backfilled :(


    In the late 1930s, war between Britain and Germany began to seem likely. Ramsgate's location on both the English Channel and the Thames Estuary, its large port facilities, and its close proximity to RAF Manston made it a likely target for heavy aerial bombing and as a landing site for any German invasion of Britain. With this in mind the town's borough engineer and surveyor, R. D. Brimmell, devised a scheme in 1938 for a network of tunnels beneath the town, to serve as a vast deep-level air-raid shelter for the town's inhabitants. This was presented to the Home Office a total of three times before they gave in and allowed the works to go ahead

    A 3.25-mile (5.23 km) semi-circular network of tunnels was dug beneath northern Ramsgate, connecting to the existing railway tunnel. It was opened by the Duke of Kent on 1 June 1939, three months before the outbreak of war. The network was capable of sheltering 60,000 people, although Ramsgate's civilian population at the time was approximately 33,000.


    This is the entrance from the rail tunnel to the war shelter network.

    The stairs leading down from Arklow Square

    Some herberts at the top of Arklow stairs

    This is what you're confronted with at the top of most staircases,concrete blocks. I think the idea was that these could be quickly lifted again should need arise.


    Nothing a bit of WD40 wouldn't fix!

    The view looking along the tunnel just before the stairs up to Arklow Square

    A few pictures of just inside the seafront end of the railway tunnel...

    The remains of a bumper car,dumped more than likely by Merrie England

    You can see the steel door that stops Joe public from wandering in,the light on the left of the picture is a small hole in the blockwork

    Looking in from the steel door

    All that remains of the old station,such a shame

    Remains of the Tunnel Railway sign hung above the seafront entrance

    This is what remains of the substation built by English Electric to supply the 400vDc overhead line for the scenic railway.

    That concludes my first report,I hope you enjoyed it. My special thanks to Wikipedia for "jogging" my memory on some of the facts.

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