Under Liverpool's Edge Hill is a mysterious underground kingdom of winding tunnels built in the 1820's and 1830's. This 40 minute guided tour takes you through a reopened section of this unique labyrinth of tunnels where you can learn about Williamson's motives for their construction and the lives of hundreds of workers employed by one of Liverpool's most eccentric characters. Moreover, the attraction is ever changing, due to its ongoing excavation of the tunnel network.
They have a website where they detail some special events during Halloween and Christmas too which I would recommend to anyone, especially younger people. Opening times do vary throughout the year and ticket prices only cost £4 for an adult and £2.50 for a child.
The Williamson Tunnels are not only a winding subterranean labyrinth that stretch underneath a vast expanse of the city but it is also a host to many gigs and events.
There are tours which can take you around this network of tunnels created by an eccentric Liverpool merchant in the early part of the 1800s. It seems strange to recommend tunnels as a worthy expedition but it does feel like another world down there in this underground city.
As for gigs, it's more of an experience and a novel place for a night out but don't expect great acoustics suitable for live performance but as for DJs and club events it's a perfect venue for more alternative events.
Hooray for nutters! What state of tedium would the world be in if we didn't have the outer fringes of the lunacy spectrum brightening the place up with their unique brand of madness? Joseph Williamson was such a man. A 19th-century businessmen, he employed scores of craftsmen and, at great cost to his own fortune, put them to work carving out a vast subterranean system of tunnels, for no real reason.
When I visited, the tour guide put great emphasis on the theory that the construction work was solely philanthropic, keeping men employed on a project for the sake of it. However, if that's true, why tunnels? Why not build hospitals or something? I actually prefer the idea that Williamson was just round the bend. As I said, it makes the world seem more extraordinary.
Two things disappointed me about the tour. Firstly, there was no Minotaur. Secondly, you are only taken around a small portion of it. I got all excited when the guide showed us a map of the possible extent of the labyrinthine tunnel system (I say 'possible' because the true size has never been determined). My intrigue was kicked asunder when he pointed out where we'd actually be venturing, little more than a short horseshoe-shape, a fraction of the mighty potential.
This is quibbling though. The tunnels are everything you want from a day out- fascinating, funny, inspiring and just a little bit eerie. It's not hard to see how Joseph's nickname altered after his death from the 'King of Edge Hill' to the less awesome but more truthful 'Mole of Edge Hill'. Still, a man who hired strangers to scoop out his own private burrow from beneath his house? You can't help but want to honour such a magnificent bastard.
So you come to Liverpool as a tourist. You go to the Albert Dock, the Beatles Museum, the Cavern, St Georges Hall etc etc etc. The problem is, a lot of people haven't even heard of the Williamson Tunnels, and this place screams history and heritage from beneath the bowels of the city!
These tunnels were built over a series of years in the middle of the 1800's by a team of construction workers working under the eccentric character Joesph Williamson. He had made all his money through the bustling tobacco industry, and had decided to employ hundreds of workers to build a labyrinth beneath the city in order to extent his empire.
The reasons for the building of these tunnels are shrouded in speculation, as Williamson himself never gave a clear motive for his actions. It is thought that they may have been built as part of a religious sect!
They're great fun to look around and have only been open to the public since 1995. In the last two years, a local promotions company known as Harvest Sun have started to give high profile bands such as Midlake gigs in the tunnels. Although I haven't made it to one of these gigs, I've heard it's a fantastic venue and that the atmosphere is amazing!
This is one of those places that shouldn't really exist. Why on earth would anyone want to pay people to dig tunnels under a city like Liverpool? It all seems intriguingly surreal
...and yet, surreally intriguing. Apparently they've only excavated about 10% of the tunnels the guy dug; and only about 10% of the tunnels they've excavated are open to the public. This means that the maze of tunnels under the city must be huge...
The tour I went on (admittedly 5 years ago now) was fascinating. They showed us some of the artefacts they'd dug up from their excavations, and these gave us a real insight into life in bygone times. The tour guide had a real passion for the place and his enthusiasm was infectious.
All in all, if you're in Liverpool you really should visit the tunnels, if only so you can spend the rest of the day asking Why?!.
Who would have thought spending some time in bizarre tunnels under Liverpool would be so much fun?
There is a small area with some displays telling you about the history of the tunnels and a range of the items that have been found when emptying them out. You then get a very informative guided tour from one of the volunteers which is fasinating.
There are a few reasons put forward as to why the bloke made the tunnels, which just adds to the mystery and the interest!
I'll be going back again in a few years time to see what extra the hard-workin volunteers have managed to unearth. It's well worth a visit if you are in the area. My fridge is now the proud wearer of a Williamson Tunnels fridge magnet!
A 40 minute guided tour of the tunnels is pretty cool. The winding tunnels were created by Joseph Williamson in the early 19th century as is an underground world under Liverpool's Edge Hill. The guided tour takes you through a section of the network of tunnels. The tunnels are fascinating. Bands get to play down in the underground. A few upcoming events include the Big Freeze on 5th and 6th June.
A fantastic arrange of Tunnels under the centre of Liverpool. The group also give talks and slide shows to local societies. Fascinating stuff.
A great place to visit if you are interested in what lies beneath the city. Situated near the University of Liverpool, the section of tunnels open to the public is fascinating, if a little short. However, great staff will help you to have an interesting visit with stories of the history and conservation of the tunnels.
I have been to visit the Williamson Tunnels twice over the last couple of years. Although when I first heard about them i thought why ? am i going.
The tunnels have been magnificently constructed and have been well looked after.The people who work there are all voulunteer
This tour is recommended to everyone as it is a great day out for all.
During the 1800s, there were many people living in Liverpool who were very poor and had a low standard of living. Joseph Williamson wanted these people of Liverpool to have a better way of life and earn honest wages, however, he did not want to just give money to them.
When Joseph Williamson bought an area of land in Edge Hill, he employed the working class and war veterans from Liverpool to dig tunnels connected to each other underneath the city. From then on Williamson was known as 'The Mole of Edge Hill'. There was no real reason for these tunnels to be built; in fact today no one really knows why. One suggestion is that he was using the tunnels to enter some of the wealthy properties in Edge Hill where he was having affairs with the ladies of the house or the maids as his wife knew nothing of the tunnels until after his death!
Joseph Williamson himself was not always rich and had to work hard to earn his living. When he was young he moved to Liverpool seeking work and was employed by Richard Tate, a tobacco merchant, who died in 1787. After Tate's death the business passed to his son Thomas. Joseph Williamson gradually worked his way up through the company and married Richard Tate's daughter, Elizabeth. Joseph Williamson later went on to buy the expanding tobacco company from Thomas Tate and the business continued to do well and earning him his fortune.
An absolutely fascinating place to visit and y doing so any contribution that you make will help in the ongoing works that are much needed
The background: during the early 1800s, philanthropist Joseph Williamson kept in employ the gangs of workmen he'd engaged to build terraces to the rear of Mason St, and set them to work digging out a series of tunnels, chambers and labyrinths spreading out under Liverpool. Although only the facade of his own home now remains at street level (Mason St) the FOWT have developed the tunnels themselves into a first-rate tourist attraction - entered by way of a newly-built visitor centre (the Old Stableyard; Smithdown Lane) as a base for conducting tours of the much-photographed 'double tunnel' and south tunnel, as well as other accessible parts of the still mostly unexplored complex of excavations. There's a gift shop, an interpretational display, and a cafe bar - perfect to muse on the strange motivations of the human psyche - located under one of Williamson's original arches. Children are more than welcome - the entire site has been assessed for health and safety reasons, and meets every requirement. The last time I visited (Nov 2008) the entrance fee was £4 (concessions available), with general opening hours being 10-5pm (Mon-Sun). Full training is offered to anyone so entranced by their visit to the tunnels that they may want to work as a volunteer guide. This is a unique experience, and still largely unknown to most visitors to Liverpool. Amazing.
excellent day for the whole family , you get to learn about the history of the tunnels in liverpool , freindly staff , cafe area and free parking . min fee to enter but extremely interesting
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