Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Miscellaneous tunnels and other stuff

Granville Caves (a.k.a. Wellington Caves)

Similar to those on the Westcliff, (see St. Augustine's caves post) the Granville caves (beneath Wellington Crescent) could comfortably accommodate many hundreds of people during an air raid. The existing victorian Granville and St. Augustines cave systems were upgraded during the second world war, along with the old Railway tunnel (see railway tunnel post) at a cost of £9,000 to provide extra shelter in addition to the air raid tunnel network.

Entrances into this system are rumoured to be from within the cellars of the Granville Hotel, the Pavilion in Winterstoke Gardens, and beneath the bandstand in Wellington Crescent. So far I have been unable to locate any pictures of this system.

Here you can see the Granville Caves system marked on the Air Raid tunnel plan of 1938 as 'Existing Caves'.

A recent seismic survey of the East Cliff that was taken to test it's integrity (after cracks appeared in the cliff wall) have revealed a 'large void', about the size if 4 large houses. This is thought to be the caves. Next to it was shown another large underground room, which was an underground ammunition store for the two great big guns that used to be stationed at Wellington Crescent during WW2.

Here is the full map of the Ramsgate air raid tunnel system, including both the St. Augustines and Granville Caves systems, as well as the pre-1939 tunnel system from Southwood Road sports ground through to the Refuse Destructor.

(See separate air raid tunnel posts for more information)


A Margate smugglers tunnel

Slightly further afield from Ramsgate, here is an interesting report from a local paper from 1991 about the discovery of a smuggling tunnel in Margate:

"Did you know that a Margate pub landlord in the 19th century was a notorious body-snatcher?

Or that when customers learned of his other, grisly, occupation, they deserted in droves and he had to sell the pub at a loss?

The president of Margate Civic Society, local historian Mr. Alan Kay, reveals in the society's newsletter that the tale surfaced as a result of a conversation about smuggler's tunnels with a Margate builder.

The builder said that when his men were constructing the Quarterdeck Youth Club in Zion Place, they came across a bricked-up tunnel in the cellar they were filling in.

Mr. Kay was able to tell him that it was the site of the 18th Century Prospect Tavern and Tea Rooms, which later became the Crown and Anchor Tavern.

The Inn was a meeting place for smugglers and in 1829 six men constructed a tunnel from the cellars to 50ft. up in the cliff face to the west of the Clifton Baths - now the site of the Lido.

Later the cave was known as Watson's Hole, after a local smuggler.

While the tunnel was being excavated, they had difficulty in keeping lamps and candles alight and had to make small boreholes to the surface every six feet, for air.

A large auger was made by the black-smith at Manston for the tunnelling and chalk brought up was buried during the night and spread on the road then being built on Cliff Terrace.

The tavern changed it's name to the Crown and Anchor when the body-snatcher, Ben Crouch, took over. He refurbished the building with proceeds from his expeditions as "camp follower" in the Pensinsular campaign, Mr. Kay says.

This 1920 postcard of Zion Place shows the Randolph Hotel - formerly body-snatcher Ben Crouch's Crown and Anchor. It is the tallest building in the street, to the right of the flag, and is now the site of the Quarterdeck youth centre.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey it matt again,

under the band stand there is a big black door down some stairs. i believe this is an entrance.

there is also an entrance in the cliff under the granville on the slopped road going down the cliff.

also a room under that looks like another entrance. i have been in two. like very large rooms made from brick and chalk like the train tunnel. you are right in saying they could fit loads of people down there

3:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The door under the Granville is a fire escape.

8:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have been in the san clu basement no signs of blocked up tunnels to my knowledge will look better next time

6:59 pm  
Blogger trev said...

When working in Hades night club on the Lido complex I was shown a very large cave which was filled with crystal clear water which looked like a inland harbour.

1:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the basement of the closed down pub in Bath road (I think) there is a tunnel, not sure where it leads too but it could meet up with this one.

4:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

l have a vivid memory of la belle alliance square,in my childhood,1950s there was a rose garden in the middle l am sure there was an air raid shelter in the right hand corner,but no seems to remember it.or mention it in the mps of shelters,please can you clear this up,it drives me mad.

12:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mum,82,remembers seeing the bouncing bomb tested across Epple Bay, and a lot of staff cars parked in Epple Road

5:46 pm  
Blogger Alf Clarke said...

What did they do with the waste chalk there must have been a lot anybody know thanks Alf

8:38 pm  

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