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Pauline

The tunnels of Bedlington.

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Years ago I heard about tunnels running under the Main Street. Does anyone know what these tunnels were used for. I have had some information on Bygone Bedlington. I'm intrigued as to what they were used for and who built them. 

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Have you used the 'Search' facility Pauline? That's where I got the info (from High Pitt Wilma & Mickey Potts postings) -  I posted on the Bedlington Remembered site.

Edited by Eggy1948

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probably a reference to old pitheads I'm sure when Dr. pit was at its peak there were tunnels leading in all directions,maybe try and see if you can get someone with knowledge of the old pit to give you a hand or maybe there are records somewhere,best of luck anyway Pauline

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There might be more Canny Lass but these are the postings I found :-

High_Pit_Wilma wrote on the topic 'Saint Cuthbert And Bedlington Church' in History Hollow :-

'Now,the older pupils,of which i have two Sisters who fell into that category,each got a lovely gilt embossed book,entitled....."The History of Northumberland".
An entry in that book stated that the old keep dated back to the reign of King John,who stayed at the keep,overnight,as he fled from the Barons,upon the return of His Brother King Richard,from the Crusades.
When Richard found out about his evil Brother's nasty deeds,he went after him like a dog at broth...so ti speak.
John fled from the old keep,down underground tunnels,which led from there to the site of the old original Post Office,beside Bache's ice-cream shop,in the market-place,then farther down to the river blyth,at the bottom left-hand side of Bedlington bank,where the cliffs overhang that part of the now riverside walk.
....onto a boat and away ti France.......but they catched him didn't they.'

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There is no mention of the publishers or the author of the book.

 

Mickypotts wrote :- 

What I think was the mechanics institute behind the Sun Inn was a private clubhouse for our gang, lots of old billiard tables and an entrance only we knew of, In the cellar was a tunnel of some kind that seemed to go under the Sun Inn and the road, it was stone lined and I cant remember anyone going to where it ended, anyone else out there that may know???

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Eileen wrote :- · 

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By the way Maggie, one of the stories my dad used to tell me about Hollymount Hall, was that there was a tunnel that came out at the church, wonder if it was true? And Brett wrote September 16, 2013 
I bet The Old Vicarage would make a lovely family home, nicely set back behind those large walls and large double gates.
I remember reading that 90 Front Street was owned by the Church at the same time and the land next door to Dennis Todd's, which is now overgrown, was all part and parcel. I do briefly remember a story that there would have been an underground escape tunnel dating way back which lead out across the road somewhere.

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Not used the search facility yet. Will have more time over the weekend.

These appear to be seperate from mine working tunnels. 

Thank you all for responding to my post. For some reason these fascinate me. 

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This can be a very interesting topic and maybe a money-spinner for Bedlington if tunnels exist. Two years ago I was invited to a rather unusual birthday party which started with a tour of the tunnels under Gothenburg. It was fantastic (the tour - the party afterwards wasn't bad either). There is so much history underground. It's hard to imagine it when walking around the streets above. Tunnels had all sorts of uses! Here, they've been opened up by enthusiasts working voluntarily and made available to the public by charitable trust. I'd gladly give up a few weeks of my time every year to open up the tunnels of Bedlington.

Edited by Canny lass
Would you believe it - I spelled a word incorrectly!

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28 minutes ago, Canny lass said:

This can be a very interesting topic and maybe a money-spinner for Bedlington if tunnels exist. Two years ago I was invited to a rather unusual birthday party which started with a tour of the tunnels under Gothenburg. It was fantastic (the tour - the party afterwards wasn't bad either). There is so much history underground. It's hard to imagine it when walking around the streets above. Tunnels had all sorts of uses! Here, they've been opened up by enthusiasts working voluntarily and made available to the public by charitable trust. I'd gladly give up a few weeks of my time every year to open up the tunnels of Bedlington.

And HPW could be a major (or should that be miner!) contributer. 

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I spoke with my cousin who is in her eighties. She said the tunnels exist and when she was young she was warned to keep away. She said where the council offices are now was the Old Hall and that a tunnel was under there. She thought they went back many years even when she was young. 

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A bit more information about the tunnels. I was at a family funeral today in Bedlington. Spoke to one of my other cousins. She remembered the tunnels. She went to Sunday school at the Methodist church and the Old Hall was next to it. She remembered the entrance to the tunnel and how it was overgrown then.  Even though told she must not go in them she and her friends did. Though not very far.  She was told they went back many years and mentioned religious reasons. She also said there was a book in the family about Bedlington.  

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My friend Nellie Scott lived in the old hall we used to go into the tunnels very eerie.   This is from Ina Breadin on the Sixtownships page on FB. 

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Hi Pauline!

Tunnels are very intriguing! one of the old Hall tunnel entrances was at the side,was very low,about 3ft high,if I remember correctly,and typical scrolled cathedral arched lintels..nicely carved out of sandstone,and weathered to hell,which, seeing as it was a few hundred years old,you would expect it to be.

If you walk down Bedlington bank,go into the picnic field [Attlee Park],then walk left and under the river bridge,going downstream,about 70 yards along,on the bank sides,you will see the entrances to tunnels on each side of the river,with nice stone arches.

Now a lot of years ago,flat-bottomed barges used to travel up the river carrying all-sorts of goods,cos the river was a lot deeper than it is now.

There was a set of differences between us lot as to the origin of the tunnels,and King John's stay overnight at the old hall.

It makes no difference ,cos none of us were there,and we only go off what we have been learn't by other people in life!

You wouldn't be the canny young lass who met my Wife and me down the Furnace Bank,one day,and who expressed an intense interest in tunnels........would you?

We met at a later date,same place,and this nice lass and her partner/Husband/Friend?....had been exploring the tunnel entrance......not you?...!!!!

Gud luk wi ya search Pauline,hope ye find things oot,and let us aal knaa!![aa like ti think smugglers used the tunnels ti get the bootleg whisky and tabs up ti thi Vicarage for the monks!!]

Vic,that's the best pun aav cum across for yonks!!

Gie the Boss me luv and hope ya aal keeping weel!

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A forgot,when a was a kid,living in Hollymount Square,in the 1950's,a used ti play in Hollymount Hall,after it was vacated.

For a lang time,the aad-fashioned wood shutters used ti bang open and shut wi thi wind,and on nights in the winter,when the moon was full,and lighting my bedroom up,my older Brother used ti scare thi hell oot o' me by taaking aboot Ghouls,and Vampires,and aal sorts of ghostly stuff!

But in daylight it was a fascinating playgrund,wi loads of rooms,passages,and cellars below grund,where the aader lads sed that the owners would keep people doon there chained up and starved like skeletons!!.....they were in fact,the obligatory rich mans wine cellars!

Noo we nivvor saw any tunnels in there,but they cud hev been bricked up by sum soor-fyessed bugga who didn't waant kids..."getting hurt".....![it was the favourite

sentence used by aad-timers if they saw ye climbing a tree owa thi park or shinnin up a lamp-post!!...yi knaa....laddie's stuff!]

 

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Hi HPW. Thank you for that information. I just find it all intriguing.  My thoughts were they were for moving either goods or people around the area without others seeing what was going on.  That people could meet up secretly perhaps. Who knows. 

I will have to come over and have a walk down to Attlee Park. Loved going to the Picnic down there when much younger. 

Sorry Im not the canny young lass you met.  

Not sure I will find out much more. I hope so. 

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Have read elsewhere of a tunnel being under Hollymount Hall. On my post on the Bedlington Remembered site. 

Edited by Pauline

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Hi Pauline,hope you keep your quest going,and find some more interesting info on the tunnels,aam fascinated also,but owa bliddy stiff and owld noo ti be scratching aroond like a used ti,when a was doon thi pits!

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Think I might be at end of my quest now I know where they ended. Will get over and see if I can get any photos. Confirmed again that they exist from yet another relative. She used to teach in Bedlington. They had been talking about them at the WI. We will never know what they were used for. My personal theory is smuggling, moving around town for secret meetings. Speculation on my part. 

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Doesn't seem any other reason to mine these tunnels in what would have been torturous conditions,with very poor ventilation,and I am very experienced on that issue,thinking about what it was like in some of the pits I worked in.These miners would most likely have been the Monks,who were among the first to mine coal for the

fires of their monasteries...they didn't know when they were tired!! They would natch away all day with a crude pick,straight off the solid,no explosives...for a pail or two of coal!!

But remember,these tunnels are not in coal seams,they are what is correctly termed as "Cross-measure Drifts",meaning they are driven at an angle,either incline

or anti-cline,through differing types of strata,so they would originally encounter pretty soft clay,then progressively hard sandstone,shale,maybe thin coal seams,more sandstone,more shale,["Blue" to us miners],and so on.

Roof water would also have been a problem in places,especially as they got down to the river level,you just need to walk down there and see all the springs oozing out of the exposed strata on the riverbank sides.

We had it rough in the pits,but I wouldn't have liked to have been on those tunneling projects!

There were about 40 bell-pits mined by the Monks of old,at Nedderton Village,on both sides of the mound after you pass through the main village street,where the "new" estates were built upon.

There were a lot of old workings in the seams,very shallow,about 20 feet down,where Bower Grange is built,where primitive picks and shovels and other bits of gear were found,left abandoned by the Monks of old,so that's how I base my assumptions as to who might have dug these tunnels out.

There's no doubt in my mind that secrecy was a prime factor!

Also,nothing comes free,so where did the funding for these long term projects  come from?,somebody had to pay for materials,ventilation was most likely to have been provided like old-fashioned coal-mining,that is.....erecting a centre hanging "Brattice cloth",all the way,with a fire at the entrance,drawing air out of one section,which in turn,pulled fresh air [ excruciatingly poor!!!],down the other side of the brattice......can you picture it?[this is how we had to clear any quantities of Methane or Blackdamp,even in relatively modern times,until an auxiliary fan could be brought in.]

Aye,methinks the only people with real money were the religious fraternity,Bishop of Durham owned Northumberland,did he not?,please correct me if I am wrong on any points here!!!!

Er!!,upon proof-reading,it looks like I am saying we used the fire system in more modern times!!!,definitely not!,it was the brattice cloth we used to use,and when it was wet,you couldn't lift the sod![and it stunk wi mould!]

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",Bishop of Durham owned Northumberland,did he not?"

Always great to read all this stuff! I'm not sure the Bishops owned Northumberland but as we all know Bedlingtonshire was, until relatively recently, an exclave of Durham. I find the idea of 'secret' tunnels intriguing. HPW, for my information, where was Hollymount Hall? I should know, as I used to live on Hollymount Terrace!

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1 hour ago, mercuryg said:

HPW, for my information, where was Hollymount Hall? I should know, as I used to live on Hollymount Terrace!

mercuryg - Hollymount Hall, owned by the co-op in the 1950s - Ovalteeny used to live in it in the 50s

 

Hollymount Hall.jpg

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Thank you! That would have been at the end of the terrace, where there are some bungalows now. I note that Cornwell Crescent is misnamed, too!

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