(see also the "Frank Illingworth's Puzzle Tunnel" post)
Smuggling Tunnel entrances, Pegwell Bay
Pegwell Bay, and Pegwell Village were once a hive of smuggling activity. The chalk cliffs surrounding the bay made it easy for smugglers to dig tunnels from the beach up to the houses and pubs in the nearby village. The Belle Vue Tavern for one is known to have various tunnel entrances from it's cellars, although these have long been sealed up!
Three entrances to the 'Witches Kitchen', (also known as the catacombs), visible in the cliff face
Above: One of the entrances to the 'Witches Kitchen'
These catacomb like tunnels loop around and come back on themselves, with several other tunnels shooting off inland, but leading nowhere after a short distance, or ending in a pile of rubble. Often smugglers would include some fake tunnels that led to dead ends in an attempt to out wit the customs officials and coastguards. They would sometimes carve a symbol of a fish in the chalk walls, with its tail pointing in the direction of the real escape tunnel!
Above: 3 tunnel entrances in the cliff at Pegwell - 'Belle Vue tunnels"
(taken in 1991)
Now compare the same view today (2008), below:
It is amazing to see how the ground level has risen a good 6 feet in the 17 years since the earlier picture was taken. This is due mainly to cliff and soil erosion over the years, and the construction of new sea defences
Above: Entrance to the 'Gunpowder Cave', Pegwell Bay
The Belle Vue tunnel
Above: Old stairs leading up through the cliff
Above: Old tunnel leading to the steps shown in the picture above
Smuggler's Wells - Pegwell Bay
Well shaft taken from below (looking up). This was taken in the "BelleVue stairs" tunnel. Note the smoother construction than the well below
Well shaft taken from inside the 'puzzle tunnel' (looking up), rougher construction
"The Pegwell Cave" - c.1828
An old etching of an even older tunnel that was cut through the chalk cliff from the village down to the beach - it was likely used by shrimpers and smugglers alike over the years, giving easy access to the bay.
It was filled in many years ago, although part of this tunnel can still be seen leading from the rear of a sea cave, but is blocked after a very short distance by chalk and rubble