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Off the beaten track - What’s going on under Liverpool?

Novembre 2015
Cosa fare durante un giorno di pioggia a Liverpool? È  presto detto: esplorare i Williamson Tunnels, degli affascinanti labirinti sotterranei. E poi ovviamente siamo nella città dei Beatles: a Liverpool non vi annoierete di certo!

di Marsha Henderson © British Council

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The Williamson Tunnels. The two football clubs mentioned in the article are Liverpool and Everton.
The Williamson Tunnels. The two football clubs mentioned in the article are Liverpool and Everton.

Speaker: Rachel Roberts (Standard British accent)

Dark clouds appear over the River Mersey and a cold wind is blowing. A few drops are beginning to fall. We’re in the famous city of Liverpool and we’re going to spend this rainy day in the Williamson Tunnels.

AN INTERESTING LIFE STORY

Joseph Williamson was born into a poor family in 1769, but left home and went to work for a tobacco company at the age of 11. He began at the bottom and finally became head of the business.

AN UNSOLVED MYSTERY

Nobody knows why Williamson dug tunnels under most of Liverpool, but many think it was to create jobs. Perhaps half of Liverpool’s population worked for him. The Napoleonic Wars were over and men were coming home who had lost arms and legs. The industry of war had made enormous amounts of money, but now Liverpool was in a terrible financial situation.

THE KING OF EDGE HILL

I went on a guided tour starting close to where his empire began in Edge Hill. Here there were once fantastic houses and gardens: now there is only a single apple tree left. In the tunnels the steps leading from rooms below ground to those buildings, which no longer exist, seem particularly ghostly.

INCREDIBLE ENGINEERING       

We go into the Double Tunnel. It’s just been discovered that it’s actually a triple tunnel – but nobody knows why the three tunnels were built on top of each other. We also saw a church down there.
We finish the tour and decide we’ll have a coffee in the Williamson Tunnels Café Bar. I notice lots of flyers for bands and theatre groups that are coming to play there.

WHY LIVERPOOL?

Apart from the obvious attractions like the football clubs, or anything to do with The Beatles, Liverpool has a lot to offer. Princes Park and Croxteth Park were royal hunting grounds and the trees are 200 years old. Renshaw Street displays an unusual mix of architectural styles. The nightlife is exciting. If you want to experience a part of the British Isles with a character entirely different from London, you should definitely come to Liverpool.


FRIENDS OF WILLIAMSON’S TUNNELS

Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels is a charity dedicated to renovating (and promoting) the labyrinth. To find out more about the organization and about guided tours of the Tunnels, go to www.williamsontunnels.com. Donations are welcome: in this way you can help Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels preserve the Tunnels for future generations.  Liverpool has its own airport (Liverpool John Lennon Airport), but the city is also a two-and-a-half hour train journey from London’s Euston Station.


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