Williamson Tunnels

Me standing in the Williamson Tunnels.

With the last couple of quid, from our BT “windfall”, I head to Liverpool for the day, to see the famous Williamson Tunnels.

The Liverpool “loop” train wasn’t running, so it was a half hour walk across town. The thing that amazed me, was that as the train came to a stop at James Street station, loads of people were complaining about having to walk. I wondered how many of those people pay £45 per month in Gym membership !.

Considering my skint status, I consider it safe to wander into Cotswalds outdoor shop. Right in the middle of the high street, its one of the biggest outdoor shops I’ve ever been in, and contains some pretty cool stuff (luckily I had no spare cash, so didn’t blow £50 on something I probably wont use, but which looks nice.

As I wander further, I see some break-dancers performing. They have a 6 foot x 6 foot piece of lino taped to the floor and are performing all sorts of acrobatic things, as they used too in Manchester when I was a teenager.

One thing which has changed, is the contribution. In my day, a small plastic cereal bowl was placed out for people to put coins into, if they were suitably entertained. These guys had a washing up bowl. Inflation must have hit hard :).

Our tour guide shows us a map of the tunnels, reconed to be 1.6 miles long.

I arrive at the Williamson tunnels and pay my entrance fee (about £4, but it promises to be pretty interesting). A tour has just started, and instead of making me wait for an hour, they put me on the one that is already running. There are a man an woman on the tour with me, and our guide (pictured above). We all have to wear hard hats.

First off, our guide tells us something about the history of the tunnels. He was obviously fascinated by the tunnels and spoke with a great deal of empathy for their creator.

Its mentioned that at one point, James Stevenson (digging the railway line tunnel that would link Liverpool and Manchester and create the first industrialised Railway) dug a hole in his tunnel, that “punctured” into the Williamson tunnel bellow.

Some of the bottles and artifacts found while clearing rubbish from the tunnels.

There was an explanation about why the tunnels were created. Its pretty well accepted that they were designed as a job creation scheme, after the Napoleonic war. Although the people that worked on them, started out as Nave’s they soon acquired skills, which would benefit Liverpool massively, once development of the City began (at the time, Liverpool was a City of 8,000 people (today it has 800, 000) of which 350 worked on the tunnels.

After Williamson died, people made money by collecting rubbish (people paid to have Rubbish taken away at the time, there was no local council as there is now) and throwing it into the tunnels. Work still continues to clear them out, but as you can see from the picture above, a lot of the “rubbish” tells a fascinating historical story.

I did enjoy seeing the tunnels, but to be honest, I thought they would be a lot bigger and deeper. Still, I only know that, because I’ve actually been.

The outside of the Victoria gallery and Museum.

I wander back towards town. I pass the Victoria gallery and Museum. It was opened to the general public in 2008, but before this, it was the first building to coin the phrase Red Brick University. Its free to visit, so I decide to pop in.

They have a cafe, that serves fresh soup and fare trade coffee. I decide to eat my sandwiches on the walk back to the station. There is a really interesting Museum on the 3rd floor. It has Egyptian artifacts, animal skeletons (did you know, that a rattle snake actually has bones !) and a 3 foot wide dinosaur footprint.

My favourite artifact was reconstructed dental operating theatre, complete with foot powered drill and reclining dentist chair (you could see the “wear” marks on the chair, from people who had gripped it under duress.

The building has an interesting Museum and Art Gallery, but I loved this ornate coridore.

On the 2nd floor, was a small art gallery. The pictures and sculptures in the different rooms, were nice, but if you know me, you know that art isn’t really my thing, and I’m unlikely to use phrases like “I love the drama and aggression in this painting” or any sort of rubbish like that. They were just nice pictures.

I loved this corridor in the building. It just captured the whole Victorian thing for me.

As I wander back to the station, I contemplate the BT project. Ive managed to “do” 7 different half day adventures, for £36. Im going to carry on budget adventuring whenever I can, and continue to blog it. For now, I think Ive achieved my goal.

Have you got any thoughts or comments on the BT Adventures. Why not post them bellow.

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