Bit out of my line this but I’ve always been interested in the alleged tunnel between the Winter Gardens and the Tower.
I have always been a tunnel sceptic. The Winter Gardens are on raised ground so a tunnel between the Tower and the Winter Gardens would be difficult. I assumed people were mistaking the tunnel between the Palace and the Tower for a tunnel to the Winter Gardens. And as Colin Reed who has been on many archaeological explorations says: “There’s always a tunnel.”
So I would have bet good money that there was no tunnel between the Tower and the Winter Gardens.
Well I was wrong. Or technically I was right.
The mystery was solved in Great Yarmouth where I met Harry Luby. Harry worked as an apprentice carpet fitter in the Winter Gardens and he recalls in 1959 when he was 16 he used the tunnel… or two tunnels… to transport material from the Winter Gardens to the Tower. Things were moved on a battery powered three wheeler… a bit like a milk float. Yes two tunnels. So technically I was right there was not a tunnel from the Winter Gardens to the Tower. There was a tunnel from the Tower to Tower Street and another tunnel from Tower Street to the Winter Gardens. Tower Street, now a car park in keeping with Blackpool Corporation’s policy of changing all buildings of interest into car parks, was an intriguing area of Blackpool and included the wonderful Galleon and a forbidding Dickensian looking building that was an administrative area and warehouse for the Winter Gardens and the Tower. I recall looking at it and thinking I would not be surprised if Bob Cratchit came out the door. I don’t think it really was Victorian.
The corner of Tower Street and Adelaide Road
Harry recalls that these tunnels were nine foot wide and six foot tall and that the route from the Tower to Tower Street was more straightforward than the route from Tower Street to the Winter Gardens which may have had to contend with sewage and water pipes and a steep incline. There were actually two tunnels so that you could not go directly from the Tower to the Winter Gardens. The tunnels were on two different levels.
So problem solved. Isn’t it?
I would not be truthful if I did not say I enormously enjoyed Blackpool Illuminati Exposed. Which says that Blackpool’s tunnels form a pentangle. Hey Ho.
Many thanks to Harry Luby and the indefatigable staff at Blackpool Local and Family History Centre.