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Lead or Rumour info - Tamworth tunnels. Myth or reality?

Discussion in 'Leads, Rumours and News...' started by dannypanic, Jun 9, 2014.

  1. dannypanic

    dannypanic 28DL Full Member
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    I've lived in Tamworth all my life, and ever since i've remembered there's been talk of a tunnel running beneath the town linking our two ancient sites together: Tamworth Castle and St Edithas church. It's always been hearsay and speculation, with theories going back a couple of hundred years from people who have searched for it. The closest someone came apparently was around a 150 years ago, when new houses were being built over the top of the old town foundations. It's said a building was being demolished, and a builder happened to unearth a 'subterranean passageway'. A short quote from an article written about this subject:

    "As the demolition men tore down these 18th century buildings, they came across an old tunnel heading out under George Street from beneath one of the shops. Some suspected that it may have been a long-lost medieval passageway leading from the castle to St. Editha’s Parish Church. Local people have long believed the tunnel to exist, but as yet, there is no historical or architectural proof. The George Street tunnel was probably just a cellar dug out to provide extra storage space. But, as they developers were anxious to press on without archaeologists poking their noses in, the tunnel was simply blocked up with little or no investigation." - (Going Underground | Tamworth Time Hikes)

    There's also been speculation that the entrance is located within the crypt of St Edithas (which was explored whilst filled to the roof with bones around a century ago), and that there used to be gateways in the base of the castle which were locked with iron gates. Now those gates aren't there anymore, and the castle crypt is now a cafe.

    I'm not really asking for direct help in this matter as I have the resources to research further very close to home, but I'd like to just ask where to start?

    Are there any governing bodies I could request info from? Is there any advice someone could pass my way on how to approach this situation if they've been involved with something similar? Tamworth also plays host to another ancient site of worhsip called 'St Ruffins Well'. Our council had the great idea of capping it off with concrete many years ago, and there has recently been a resurgence of support to reopen it. The council have agreed to investigate further and open the well site, but only IF proof of the well can be found again. Now I think the tunnel and well are located very close to one another, and I think it's plausible that if you found one you could find both.

    Anyway I'm starting to ramble and lost my point. I'm just requesting a bit of friendly advice from the knowledgeable members of this group to see if anyone has approached something like this themselves, and if so how they went about with it.

    Thanks and wish me luck!
     

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  2. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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    Ah the old tunnels rumour, wish I had £1 for everytime these popped up :rolleyes:
     
  3. dannypanic

    dannypanic 28DL Full Member
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    Well it's always interested me and i'm sure it interests a lot of other people too. I'd love to put it to bed one way or another, as I'm sure there is or was some truth to the claims.
     
  4. dannypanic

    dannypanic 28DL Full Member
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    "As the demolition men tore down these 18th century buildings, they came across an old tunnel heading out under George Street from beneath one of the shops. Some suspected that it may have been a long-lost medieval passageway leading from the castle to St. Editha’s Parish Church. Local people have long believed the tunnel to exist, but as yet, there is no historical or architectural proof. The George Street tunnel was probably just a cellar dug out to provide extra storage space. But, as they developers were anxious to press on without archaeologists poking their noses in, the tunnel was simply blocked up with little or no investigation."

    An extract from an article written about the very tunnels I'm trying to locate. Real interesting read if you get the chance!
     
  5. Styru

    Styru Admin
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    The answer to that is definitely yes :thumb
     
  6. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    Start by asking "why would they even need a tunnel"? Going to church in their Sunday best, down a stinking muddy hole?
     
  7. Muttley

    Muttley 28DL Regular User
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    All that's missing from this story is the offshoot tunnel to the Red Lion on the High Street and a story of it being used by monks/nuns/the king to flee persecution and/or enjoy a cheeky half or ten.

    It might be true, but every town has the same rumour and very few turn out to true.

    Good luck with your research.
     
  8. iixarba

    iixarba 28DL Member
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    Hi, did you manage to get anywhere with this?
    I'm also from Tamworth and have been interested in the tunnels for most of my life. you used to be able to get into the castles' dungeon from underneath the small wooden bridge connecting the grounds with George street, as well as into the abandoned property behind the right of the castle. i also believe there are many more tunnels. i used to know some people that worked at the castle hotel, they told me there was a lot of stuff under the building that the were never able to get to. apparently they had trouble renovating the cellars because of 'structural concerns' and most of the passage ways were filled and forgotten about.
    The castle was built, in its current state just after the Norman invasion and was primarily used to pacify the locals. its entirely feasable that escape routes were built in case of an uprising and even before that there was a fort of some description for hundreds of years. I've heard that there may even be one that connects the castle to Hopwas woods, though ive had no luck in finding it sadly.
    Tamworth is a lot older than people think.
     
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  9. Snake Oil

    Snake Oil go in drains
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    The chances of the tunnels existing will be slim to none. For the well is it marked on old maps?
     
  10. dannypanic

    dannypanic 28DL Full Member
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    No further in particular than I was at at the time of posting. I did gain access to the cellar of The Market Vaults who have a bricked up archway which I was told used to be some sort of tunnel, but without a pickaxe there's no way of knowing what if anything is behind the wall. I remember the dungeon area underneath the wooden bridge, and for years it was accessible to the public, though only being a nipper back then I never did go down there. Now it's sealed up and with no way of going through. The castle itself is now protected by the national trust or some similar government body, so access is constrained to that, making it tough to mooch about for anything of interest.

    What I've come to believe is that there was a tunnel there at some point (to do with religious persecution I imagine), but over time sections of it have been uncovered and either filled in, blocked off or utilised for some other purpose i.e. storage. It's a great thought, and I'm sure in the past it's been true, but I just don't reckon there would be any sort of system that could be accessed without serious machinery and a lot of red tape. It may be worth trying to gain a bit of attention to the cause, perhaps bring it to the surface of the Tamworth news again and get the subject talked about publicly to have any shot at uncovering the possible tunnels. They would run under too many buildings with too many people having their say on the outcome, but if incentivised, such as an increase of tourism to the area, then I believe shop owners and council workers would much rather leave it alone. Let sleeping dogs lie and all that.

    As always though I will be keeping my ears and eyes open for whispers of tunnels and any new scraps of information that come to the surface which I haven't heard before. I'll always believe there was and possibly still is still are tunnels underneath the streets of Tamworth town centre, but we may never know.

    On an end note, I know for a fact that there was once a victorian resivoir in Glascote which has been lost to time but shows up on numerous old maps and documents. Now that would be worth looking into I believe!
     
  11. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    Absolute rubbish. Give it up.
     
  12. dannypanic

    dannypanic 28DL Full Member
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    Yes boss, thanks for clearing that up.
     
  13. Alley

    Alley Conspicuous Loiterer
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    As others have said, loads of towns have rumours of tunnels, usually greatly exaggerated. However, I'm sure you won't rest until you know for sure so good luck with your mission. My advice is go out and investigate for yourself - the council won't help.

    Re the well: before piped water (late 1800s in Tamworth) people would have got water from streams or artesian wells. Wells tap into aquifers between layers of rock.
    This site shows boreholes http://www.bgs.ac.uk/discoveringGeology/geologyOfBritain/viewer.html
    OS maps should show wells too.
    http://www.oldmapsonline.org/#bbox=...638139,52.651599&q=&datefrom=1000&dateto=2010
    http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/maps/
    It's unlikely a well would be connected to tunnels. Personally I wouldn't bother uncovering a capped well.

    Re the tunnel: compare maps of the 18th century demolished houses on George St, and the route between church and castle. This is probably a cellar but it's worth checking out.
    I would be thinking: Who dug the tunnel? What kind of rock is it? Where did the spoil go? Is it long enough to need a ventilation shaft?
    I would guess they would dig a shaft at each end, a safe distance below ground level, then join the two.
    OS maps will give you altitude (marked as e.g B.M. 125 which is feet above sea level) to work out how deep the shafts would be.
    Any new buildings should have land survey pdfs online which may include reference to underground features.
    Short of digging under the church and castle, the only proof will be finding written evidence. You'll probably spend years on this :)

    http://www.thepotteries.org/trade_directory/details.htm

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigot's_Directory

    http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/ser...ub_list_no,series_no;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=0&trs=1

    https://www.geomatics-group.co.uk/geocms/
     
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  14. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    You'll probably spend years on this :)

    Hopefully :thumb
     
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  15. dannypanic

    dannypanic 28DL Full Member
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    Wow, thanks truly for the guidance Alley, you've given me a lot to go on. It sounds like something you know a lot about what with the various directory lists. I shall keep this thread up to date with any new info (if people want it, there's some who seem to have taken some strange offence to me even muttering the word tunnel) and you never know, something might come up. It's all just a bit of fun really!

    Again, much appreciation for the assistance, I shall try and work my way through the sites and see if I can make some sense of if and what is underneath the streets of Tamworth.
     
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