Last week, we travelled to Liverpool in Merseyside in search of the places found within the pages of
The Finding of Martha Lost. We visited Lime Street Railway Station and the surrounding areas of the city centre. If you want to read part one, follow the links above.
If you read the book, you will find that the author, Caroline Wallace, includes secret tunnels in the storyline. Although there are tunnels underneath Liverpool, they aren't under the station itself - a fact that Wallace admits to in 'A note to the reader' at the back of the book.
They are actually in an area known as Edge Hill, not far from the city centre. So that's where we ended up - down within the deep, dark tunnels of Liverpool. The tunnels were commissioned by a man named Joseph Williamson and are known, not unexpectedly, as the Williamson Tunnels.
Joseph Williamson was a wealthy, if eccentric, tobacco merchant of Liverpool and he employed local men to build a large underground system of tunnels and passageways. The reason he did so is unknown. After his death, the tunnels were filled in, becoming almost a land-fill site.
Years later, these tunnels were uncovered.
Now, there is a unique resoration going on in Edgehill, restoring the tunnels to their former glory. It's a long process. Hard hats at the ready, we went to take a look at how they are doing so far.
Guided tours are put on throughout the day. these give informative talks about Williamson, the man, and the labyrinth of tunnels he commissioned. As he was known as 'The Mole of Edge Hill', there are numerous toy moles spread in his honour throughout the tunnels. Great if you have smaller children - it keeps their interest if wandering around underground seems a tad boring or scary.
Excavators have found many many piece of pottery and glassware as well.
The Williamson tunnels are a fascinating insight into eccentricity but also marvellous workmanship.
Prices to enter the tunnels are reasonable. The Heritage Centre is a registered charity and accepts donations to further the work of the excavation and restoration.
We found the experience fascinating. If you're in Liverpool, we would recommend you take a look.
If you are wondering what it might have been like to live in tunnels like these, why not read the book, The Finding of Martha Lost? One of the characters made their home underground.
Liverpool is such a fascinating city, with lots of history and culture. We didn't have time to have a really good look around, but will be going back soon as it's such a great place. Here are some suggestions for you if you decide to go too:
(with an observation tower!)