Recently I’ve read about or been told about a few different tunnels under the streets of York. Two of which definitely existed and perhaps still do, while a couple are more mysterious. Perhaps readers will know more. Comments welcome below.
Known tunnel 1: sorting office
This is the fairly new cycle/pedestrian entrance to the railway station, looking away from the station. Scarborough Bridge is behind the trees, the station platforms are to the left and Leeman Road sorting office is that pale building to the right.
Somewhere under here there was, and perhaps still is, a tunnel connecting the sorting office with the railway station platforms. You used to be able to see the entrance to it beneath one of the platforms, apparently, though I don’t know if it’s still visible, or indeed still in use. My dad remembers it, so does a friend.
Known tunnel 2: Rowntree’s
Not much mystery there then. I thought I had an alluring mystery tunnel to tell you about when I read a document on the proposed (now implemented) Conservation Area on Haxby Road, around the Rowntree’s buildings. It said that the dining block was ‘possibly connected by subways under the highway’. The ‘possibly’ made it sound intriguing.
… No mystery here actually. There was definitely a tunnel, between the main factory building and the dining block. Stephen remembers it, and a later planning document refers to it. I expect it’s been sealed long ago, particularly as the other end is now a Nuffield Hospital, and they won’t want urban explorers popping up in their basement.
Mystery 1: a tunnel under Blossom Street?
Audrey lived on Blossom St in the 1930s, and remembers the Forsselius garage (now a Premier Inn) being built (it opened in 1938). Audrey mentioned a rather more mysterious rumoured underground passageway:
‘When the new Forsselius garage was built at no 20, the old one that had been based in the old Horsley Gunsmith site was knocked down. I had lived there before that as dad worked at Forsselius. I was told as a child that during the excavations for the garage a passageway underground was found leading towards the Bar Convent. I believe it was collapsed in part. But it was thought it might be an old escape route from the days after the suppression. Now it seems to have not been put in recent records, but I remember my parents talking of it. It would I think have been under the road from the Convent and going under the no 20 site. No doubt during the digging and may have been covered quickly to avoid work being stopped!!! I do remember it well though it was quite a family topic of conversation when dad came home.’
It would be nice to know if anyone else has heard the same story, or has any further information.
Mystery tunnel/tube 2: station to former railway offices
Over Christmas I was discussing with my dad the development of West Offices, where he used to work, and the former railway headquarters building opposite, now the Cedar Court Grand. He recalled that there was some kind of underground communication between the railway headquarters and York station. Not a person-sized passage, more of a pneumatic tube type affair, as some old department stores had, delivering cash or documents.
Again, if anyone else has heard this, or knows more, please share.
And others …
There are of course many other rumoured underground tunnels and secret passageways. I’ve just asked my partner if he knows of any. Yes, from 56 Stonegate, where he worked years ago. Its cellars had a bricked-up part which, rumour had it, covered the entrance to a tunnel leading to the Minster …