Tunnels Under Fleetwood

Tunnels Under Fleetwood

Local folklore has it, that in their heyday the docks were connected to various buildings with tunnels under Fleetwood that were used to transport goods and animals to and fro.

There’s a similar story about tunnels under Blackpool too, but photos and documentary evidence are sparse. Tunnels is a subject which generates lots of discussion and speculation and it’s certainly an intriguing theory!

What do you know about Tunnels Under Fleetwood?

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Tunnels under Fleetwood

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Here are some pieces of information you’ve shared –

Karen Stringer was one of the Economic Development Officers at Wyre Council. She told us “I do remember someone here at Wyre (years ago) telling me that opposite the Euston and underground is an original Victorian toilet block which has been covered over but I don’t know if this is true. It would be under where the toilet block is now. I think there were some recycling bins too but when the tramway was revamped they may have gone. Maybe the Civic Society would know more. It was discussed when we were preparing the Fleetwood Masterplan in the late 1990s when we made a site visit to what we call the Lighthouse Quarter but we didn’t have time to investigate further. Perhaps it’s just an old wives’ tale or perhaps they just poured concrete into the cavity – it would be great if they were still there though.

Tunnels connecting Fleetwood Schools

Karen Lupton says: “There were tunnels connecting the schools on Beach Road and Poulton Road. Also some at the boating lake, the entrance is still there I think.”

Royal Ordinance Shelter

To which David Hamilton added: “I believe the boating lake tunnel you refer to might be the old Royal Ordinance shelter, which was filled in with concrete about 20 years back. However I know from personal experience (because I was there), that a vertical shaft was uncovered by myself and a friend at the back of the Mount where an opening collapsed. The Council came and filled that in too. I was there the whole time from discovery to its closure. I can pretty much remember exactly where it was, some 30 years later.”

Michael Dowsing expanded on the Ordinance Shelter information. He emailed to tell us: “My Grandma alway told me that her house was as good as “on top” of the Ordinance shelter (at Borrowdale Avenue). She said when they were building that part of the estate, they had to give up trying to get deep enough for the foundation, because of the reinforced concrete, so they just built on top of it.

“She also said that one of the tunnels went to the train station, but was only usable at low tide. That could explain why the ‘Bramley/Borrowdale’ back allies back onto each other, with a no-man’s-land/vegetable-plot/extra-garage-space thing going on (or it could just have been bad planning. Hehe)

Michael goes on to add: “As for confirmation, the staff at Norcross war pensions many moons ago, in the “MOD Liaison” section had to have a VERY good relationship, with each of the armed forces (medical file, central point for the civil servants, etc). If they still have that section at the DWP, they might have details (given that it’s waaaay past any secrecy issue).

Connecting the Docks

Ann Thomason also emailed to add confirmation to the story. She says: “They (the tunnels under Fleetwood) do exist. My husband, now 72 used to play in them. You can still see an entrance over the side of the North End quay where the Belfast boats moored. It was to land the cattle direct to the abbertoire on  Cop Lane – which is now the Asda supermarket car park.”

When we posted it on the Visit Fleetwood Facebook page in 2019, Brenda Bond added weight to this bit of the theory. She posted “Tunnels from the market to the railway (station) were used to transport cattle from the market which was on Adelaide street. My mum and dad told me about them and there are some from the Euston to the railway station too.

Where’s the evidence?

Richard Gillingham, local treasure and expert on local history adds: “Much investigation has been done but no evidence has been found of tunnels under Fleetwood. Dock Street, the location most frequently mentioned, would surely have collapsed under the huge weight of lorry tonnage in the past 40 years. There are also reports of complaints from residents relating to cattle being driven down Dock St. and the mess they left on the road surface.”

There’s one thing for sure, that any mention of tunnels – either in Fleetwood or Blackpool – gets everyone talking and speculating. Some are adamant that they have seen them and they do exist, others that they absolutely don’t. Maybe they will remain one of the long unsolved mysteries of the Fylde Coast!

You might also spot a little bit of hilarity thrown in for good measure. You might have come across a group of grown adults in Fleetwood (you know who you are!) who have an endless stream of jokes to throw back and forth. Their specialist subjects include tunnels, parched peas and Vimto!

Tunnels under Fleetwood at the North Euston

The North Euston Hotel is one of the buildings which is believed to be connected by these famous tunnels. When Visit Fleetwood had an opportunity to take a look in the cellars, it was of course an opportunity not to be missed….

In the cellar you can see the shape and structure of the original age old building. The stone supporting columns have been cleaned up, and the vaulted brick roof has been painted. But you can still imagine the scene which would have met the cellarman when the building was open for business back in 1841.

Cellar at the North Euston Hotel. Does it hide an entrance to tunnels under Fleetwood?
Cellar at the North Euston Hotel. Does it hide an entrance to tunnels under Fleetwood?

The meat hooks have also been left in place as a memory of the past. Or maybe they’re to hang people on when they haven’t worked hard enough!

Meat Hook in the Cellar at the North Euston Hotel. Does it hide an entrance to tunnels under Fleetwood?
Meat Hook in the Cellar at the North Euston Hotel.

The bit that interested us lies behind a locked faceless door in a corner. It’s what the current owners think might be the last vestiges of a tunnel or secret staircase. The door opens to reveal this slightly eerie sight of a small stone arch and the bottom of a short staircase. The few steps lead to a bricked up passageway – and to who knows where beyond?

Secret passage in the Cellar at the North Euston Hotel. Does it hide an entrance to tunnels under Fleetwood?
Secret passage in the Cellar at the North Euston Hotel. Does it hide an entrance to tunnels under Fleetwood?

The current owners have looked for evidence of the tunnels, but in their time at the hotel no other evidence has been found. If indeed it’s a true story.

Stables and Tunnels

However, Andrew Blundell thinks differently. He sent us an email which says “I used to work in the hotel about 46 years ago and I remember stables under it. I ventured down the tunnel for quite a distance without a torch before I got a bit scared and came back.

“At the time the tunnel was rumoured to go to the camp on Shakespeare Road. If it did I never found a ramp which would have enabled the troops to get their horses down into the cellars. The pictures of the cellars you show is quite small. I suspect a new wall has been built to update the cellar to today’s hygiene standards for the beer.”

Do you have any stories handed down through your own family, or better still any photos? If you do please get in touch. Email jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk

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