Local folklore has it, with regular discussion online, that in their heyday the docks at Fleetwood were connected to various buildings with tunnels that were used to transport goods and animals to and fro.
There’s a similar story about tunnels under Blackpool too, but photos and documentary evidence are sparse – which generates the discussion and speculation – it’s certainly an intriguing theory!
The North Euston Hotel is one of the buildings which is believed to be connected by these famous tunnels, so when I had an opportunity to take a look at the new gym which they’ve created in the cellars, it was of course also a chance to go hunting for the said tunnels….
In the refurbishment of the space you can see the shape and structure of the age old building – it’s clear for all to see against the new floor and modern machinery designed to turn us all into trimmed and fit athletes.
The stone supporting columns have been cleaned up, and the vaulted brick roof has been painted – but you can still imagine the scene that would have met the cellarman when the building was completed and opened for business in 1841 – and the meat hooks have also been left in place as a memory of the past. Or maybe they’re to hang people on when they haven’t worked out hard enough (just kidding!!)
The bit that I was interested in lies behind a locked faceless door in a corner – it’s what the current owners think might be the last vestiges of a tunnel or secret staircase.
The door opens to reveal this slightly eerie sight of a small stone arch and the bottom of a short staircase… which leads to a bricked up wall and to who knows where beyond?
Vicky Spearman, one of the family who now have custodianship of this magnificent building, tells us that they have looked for evidence of the tunnels, but in their time at the hotel no other evidence has been found, if indeed it is a true story.
Do you have any stories handed down through your own family, or better still any photos? If you do please get in touch!
Karen Stringer, Economic Development Officer at Wyre Council writes “I do remember someone here at Wyre (years ago!) telling me that opposite the Euston and underground is an original Victorian toilet block which has been covered over but I don’t know if this is true. It would be under where the toilet block is now – I think there were some recycling bins too but when the tramway was revamped they may have gone. Maybe the Civic Society would know more. It was discussed when we were preparing the Fleetwood Masterplan in the late 1990s when we made a site visit to what we call the Lighthouse Quarter but we didn’t have time to investigate further. Perhaps it’s just an old wives’ tale or perhaps they just poured concrete into the cavity – it would be great if they were still there though!
After posting this article on Facebook, a couple more comments came in.
Karen Lupton says: “There were tunnels connecting the schools on Beach Road and Poulton Road. Also some at the boating lake, the entrance is still there I think.”
To which David Hamilton added: “I believe the boating lake tunnel you refer to might be the old Royal Ordinance shelter, which was filled in with concrete about 20 years back.
“However I know from personal experience (because I was there), that a vertical shaft was uncovered by myself and a friend at the back of the Mount where an opening collapsed. The Council came and filled that in too. I was there the whole time from discovery to its closure. I can pretty much remember exactly where it was, some 30 years later.”
Richard Gillingham, local treasure and expert on local history adds: “Much investigation has been done. No evidence has been found. Dock Street, the location most frequently mentioned, would surely have collapsed under the huge weight of lorry tonnage in the past 40 years.
“There are also reports of complaints from residents relating to cattle being driven down Dock St. and the mess they left on the road surface.”
There’s one thing for sure, that any mention of tunnels – either in Fleetwood or Blackpool – gets everyone talking and speculating! Some are adamant that they have seen them and tey do exist, others that they absolutely don’t. Maybe they will remain one of the Fylde Coast’s long unsolved mysteries!
You might also spot a little bit of hilarity thrown in for good measure with a group of grown adults in Fleetwood (you know who you are!) who have an endless stream of jokes to throw back and forth, which include tunnels, parched peas and Vimto!
Doorway and blocked staircase in the North Euston Hotel cellar
Original meat hooks left in the cellar walls at the North Euston Hotel cellar